Marketers like to think of their craft as art and science in equal measure. But what happens when the process — the science — of marketing impedes the creative flow.

For many creative staff, the systems they have to endure make the process of delivering great experiences frustrating and expensive.

It is an issue examined in a new Aprimo ebook, called “Get Your Creative Groove Back”.

As the authors note, creatives love applying their talents to making art that resonates in powerful and unforgettable ways. “But when these teams spend weeks or months in the abyss of revisions,“ they write, “it’s not only frustrating, but emotionally draining. The teams eventually burn out. Their creative energy is tapped. It’s normal. It’s human.”

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There is a big opportunity cost from all of this inefficiency. Too much time is spent chasing people around the organisation, trying to understand what is happening. This reduces the time available for the more creative aspects of a marketer’s job.

It is important to recognise that the cause of this disruption is not only siloed team structures, but also teams relying on out-of-date, disparate, disconnected systems. While these may have been useful for earlier times, they are no longer sufficient in an era of a proliferation of channels, where the customer is in charge.

For marketers, these are familiar problems. Assets are often stored locally, then passed around via email — leading to problems with version control. File sharing often occurs via shared drives — or worse, unsecured repositories — leading to problems such as expired off-brand assets remaining in circulation long after they should have been retired. Likewise, creative reviews may take longer, or be missed entirely, exposing the organisation to compliance problems — or delivering a poorer customer experience.

Where companies use an agency or multiple agencies to help with marketing and the management of their assets, a new layer of complexity, cost and potential for failure is added to the equation.

So how best to tame the chaos and let the creatives create?

By aligning marketing initiatives from a single entry point, brands can optimise results, increase efficiency, and eliminate redundancies. It is also easier to leverage existing efforts. For instance, marketers can use historical data from past projects to determine what has worked in the past, and improve marketing functions over time.

Meanwhile, a disciplined approach to marketing operations helps teams facilitate collaboration internally, as well as across the extended network of agencies and vendors.

And, by assigning task ownership by role and dependencies, marketers can ingrain accountability, automate notifications and reminders, store attachments and notes, and track results. Each of these in its way empowers the CMO, the heads of marketing teams, and contributors in the process to have the right information at their fingertips.

Think of it as removing the “Who, What, When, Where, Why, How” questions that consume so much of a project’s time.

This structured approach — utilising an operational platform for marketing — ensures that every participant (such as reviewers, contributors and agencies) in the campaign lifecycle knows their role and understands what they need to do to get the campaign executed and the assets distributed.

Marketers also get a searchable, analytical, web-based repository for all of their marketing deliverables — not just their digital campaigns — that works in the background. Having such a repository allows marketing leaders to free up their creatives to focus on designing meaningful and engaging customer experiences, rather than getting weighed down by the administration of a process.

As the authors of “Get Your Creative Groove Back” describe it, “It’s creativity without the crazy”.

About the authors

Sean Campbell is a solutions consultant for Aprimo. He has worked with leading brands in the US, Europe, and APAC, helping them to transform their marketing operations. Andrew Birmingham is the director of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit, of which Aprimo is a Corporate Member. Our members provide their insights and expertise for the benefit of the Which-50 community. Membership fees apply.

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