Creative types can be hard to understand.
You know them: the graphic designers, the web developers, the video editors. They like to talk about fonts and wear ironic t-shirts and ponder the deeper meanings of Lost.
It’s often their free thinking and creativity that leads to the killer videos, presentations, websites that drive marketing campaigns, but their mysterious ways can often be perplexing to a more black-and-white, analytical marketing and sales crowd.
If marketing and sales want to get the best output possible for their campaigns and outreach efforts, it’s crucial that they know how to effectively work with creative teams.
After working on both sides of the equation, I’ve observed two methods that are guaranteed to produce subpar work. Use them at your own risk. And if you’d like some suggestions for a better way, keep reading.
Method 1: Tell your creative team exactly how to complete the project.
As a general rule, creative teams are usually pretty creative. They thrive on coming up with original solutions to problems. They get excited about generating new ideas. Even if the project is not particularly cutting-edge or thrilling, it can be a fun challenge to the creative team to make it as engaging as possible.
So when you tell them exactly how you want a project to look and feel — from the colors, to the layout, to the script, etc. — you take away every bit of excitement and intrigue from the project. And when you take away that spark of excitement, you’re no longer getting the team’s best work.
They’re going to churn out something to your specifications as quickly as possible. They’re going to check your project off the to-do list as fast as they can, and move on to the next project that they are excited about.
Maybe you’re thinking this sounds good. You get your project exactly the way you want it. But the problem is, you’re likely missing out on something that could have been infinitely better, had the creative team been given the freedom to use their creativity, talent and skills.
Method 2: Provide absolutely no guidelines for how you want the project to be completed.
“You’re the creative team, you know what to do.”
“Just make it look good.”
These trusting yet vague instructions from well-meaning sales and marketing professionals have cost many creative teams countless wasted hours of work and worry.
While creative teams don’t want to be told exactly how to complete a project, they do want to know what your expectations for the project are and what you have in mind.
Nothing is more agonizing than working on a project with no idea if your “customer” is going to like it. This fear can lead your creative team to do multiple drafts of several diverse concepts, spreading their efforts thin rather than honing their best ideas.
This fear can lead your creative team to play it safe. To stick to their tried-and-true methods rather than take the risks that could result in an amazing campaign.
How To Do It Better
There are plenty of other ways to get crappy work from your creative team. But let’s not focus on the negative. Here are some tips for working together in creative harmony.
Have an idea of what you want and provide examples.
Before you meet with the creative team, take time to think about what you want the end product to accomplish. Show the creative team something similar to what you have in mind. That doesn’t mean they’ll copy it — it gives them a basic framework to work with and shows them where your expectations are.
Give all the information you have.
The more insight and information the creative team has, the more they can use to deliver an exceptional final product. When you meet with the creative team, focus on what you know about the opportunity and your goals, not design details like colors and fonts.
Be open minded.
Show examples of what you like, but be open to something different that might be even better.
Trust the creative team’s judgement.
The creative team made decisions to use copy, colors, layouts, timing, etc. for a reason. If you have rational for why a design choice won’t work, let them know. If it’s just personal preference, trust the creative team’s decisions.
The Bottom Line
Whether you work for the same company or you’ve hired an outside creative team, marketing, sales and creative teams have to view each other as partners in the creative process with distinct competencies.
Taking a little bit of time to understand the creative team and how they work can do wonders for your sales and marketing process and can guarantee you get top-notch work from your creative team.
What are your suggestions for working with creative teams? Let us know in the comments.