Maximizing the Output of Your Creative Team
Getting the most out of your outsourced or in-house creative staff can make a big difference towards a successful product launch or marketing initiative. In my 19 years as a outsourced creative designer, I’ve picked up the pieces of partially failed projects numerous times. Creative talent seems to have a reputation for being unpredictable and difficult to manage.
The #1 Potential Barrier To Success
It can be long or short, but don’t skip the creative brief. Explain the background and needs of your project with a simply worded creative brief. Include research if you have it, or explain what research you expect the creative team to do. If your creative brief will be verbal, then alert your team that they may want to record the conversation. Some simple points to cover before the project starts:
- Company background, audiences, the near-term goals of the business, and the competitive landscape
- Why this project is important to the business, and what would happen if the project is not completed in a timely manner
- What the end user should feel and do if the project is completed in an ideal way
Communication Styles – What’s Yours?
Once you’ve hired a creative, let them know how you prefer to communicate. Whether by text, email, phone, in person or skype, choose what works for you, and let them know your preferences.
Welcome Them To The Team
Working side by side with a large team can be an exciting change of pace for creative folks, especially for outsourced creative talent who may be used to working without daily supervision. Introducing new creatives to key people in your organization can help foster a sense of teamwork that can pay off in the long run if their motivational fuel runs low.
Connect On Social Networks
Personal recommendations on LinkedIn are one of the best ways to show appreciation to members of your creative team. But everyone knows that you can’t recommend someone without first looking them up and requesting to connect. Once you are comfortable that you have made the right choice in hiring, connect personally with your creatives on LinkedIn and other social networks to provide an added incentive to perform professionally and to do great work.
High Energy Helps
New ideas flow best when energy levels are high. If you or team members are losing focus during a long meeting, consider splitting up your meetings or calls so you don’t try to cover too much in a single session.
A Change of Scenery
Have you been holding meetings in the same conference room or meeting space for a while? To stimulate their creative juices, introduce your creative team to new environments by holding meetings occasionally at a satellite office, a different conference room, or by touring a new company installation or construction groundbreaking.
If Things Get Off Track
Resolving problems such as a missed deadline, or receiving creative work that just doesn’t work, can be uncomfortable to say the least. If a milestone is missed send a timely reminder and request a follow up. And if the creative solutions are off target or just plain ugly, then give your team a chance to resolve it by providing you with new or revised ideas. Let them know that you are focused on the end result, and want to avoid similar problems on future projects. And if they have concerns along the way, encourage them to take them to the top before any hard feelings develop.
Discuss Budgets at the Beginning, Middle and End
Great creatives are not often great accountants, and tend to want to focus on innovative ideas instead of the intricacies of complex project budgets. Both managers and creatives should have a clear understanding of what the effort will cost, right up front and in writing. Budget ranges, project phases, hourly costs, or inclusive fixed fee arrangements are all fine, as long as both managers and creative staff are on the same page and keep the budget discussions open as the project progresses. If budgets are tight consider providing some examples of the quality level that is expected, so that your creative team doesn’t try to invent everything from scratch. If you take the time to explain how important the budget is to your project, you can tap their creativity in coming up with innovative ways to change things around to be more cost effective while still meeting your goal.