Creative Operations to Simplify Your Processes & Improve Outcomes

It is more pertinent to tame the chaos than ever before! Why you may ask? Picture the following… Your creative team is constantly producing, and at times it’s nearly impossible to keep up with the demand for their output. In fact, it can feel a lot like you’re on a never-ending hamster wheel of asset production. There’s no time to stop, take a step back, and evaluate whether your team’s efforts are achieving your stakeholders’ desired outcomes.

That’s a problem – because of course you want to create work that moves the needle and gives stakeholders the ROI they’re looking for. You know your team can add more value by understanding the goals and aims of the pieces they produce. And you deeply wish to empower them to create content that will drive results.

But how in the world do you find time to focus on outcomes when your team’s workload is always increasing? Here are three tangible steps you can take to empower your teams to focus on what really matters: adding strategic value by producing outcomes that matter.

Step 1: Streamline Creative Workflows to Improve Efficiency

Taming the chaos of the creative process may not be your endgame, but it is a crucial starting point. According to the 2021 Creative Management Report which polled more than 400 creative and marketing professionals – the top three challenges creative teams currently face is the speed they need to work (73%), a lack of creative resources (61%), and the volume of work they’re expected to complete (59%).

Therefore, you need to work on solving these underlying challenges before you do anything else. Look at your current processes and decide if there are ways to work smarter rather than harder. Have you taken time to define and document the steps of your creative process? Do internal teams and stakeholders understand what’s involved in moving a project from concept to completion? Have you invested in the right automation tools and set up helpful project tiers to help your teams prioritize and manage their work?

Automated Workflows Save Time and Boost Productivity

A robust workflow management system that automates tasks and minimizes redundancies is essential to making your team as efficient as possible.

A great workflow tool will enable you to:

  • Launch new projects efficiently
  • Create dynamic request forms to capture the details for each project
  • Set deadlines that trigger automatic notifications and reminders, so projects stay on track
  • Access everything related to a creative project in one place
  • Collaborate in an agile way as a team
  • View at-a-glance dashboards showing where each project is in the stages of production
  • Deliver and ask for clear, actionable feedback
  • Simplify the review and approval process

Doing all this work manually for every new project is a huge drain on your creative team’s time and energy. If you haven’t automated your processes and workflows, investing in automation technology is a key first step toward improving your team’s efficiency and ROI.

Project Tiers Help Your Team Prioritize

Creatives manage multiple requests from a variety of stakeholders – and everyone naturally wants their collateral to be at the top of the priority list. Project tiers have helped many organizations streamline and manage their work and serve as an excellent way to boost efficiency. Tiers can be used to organize work based on how extensive that work is, how many approvals are needed, or how complicated the piece is to produce.

For instance, a low-tier project may be one involving a quick update of an existing design. Perhaps it’s a digital ad that simply needs to be updated with a new call to action. This tier might give the assigned creative team member a limited amount of time to complete the project and require no approvals.

By contrast, a higher tier one may be used for brand-new projects requiring an entirely new creative design. It can be part of an overall campaign involving multiple team members. This project would require a longer production timeline and involve more people in the approval processes.

Using tiers and making improvements to your overall creative workflow will result in faster production of creative assets – a vital measure of your team’s efficiency.

Step 2: Measure the Effectiveness of Your Creative Outputs

Most creative teams measure success by reporting on the assets they produced, how many pieces they made, and how fast they created those items. As important as they are, these metrics measure efficiency, not effectiveness. And focusing solely on output is a quick way to burn your creative team out.

To produce output that drives outcomes, you’ll need to get a firm grasp on those metrics that measure the outcomes of your output. Salient metrics will, of course, vary based on the goals of each project. Therefore, effectiveness is level-two thinking – there’s no secret formula and outcomes are sometimes more nebulous than we’d like.

However, you’ll likely look at common data points such as:

  • Total views
  • Open rates
  • Click-through rates
  • Number of new leads
  • Number of downloads
  • Conversion rate
  • Results of A/B testing

Your colleagues in other departments might already be tracking these important metrics. But do they share results with you and your creative team? If not, how can creatives adjust their style or adapt their approach and strive for better results?

Complete the feedback loop and measure the effectiveness of your outputs.

Step 3: Empower Creatives to Add Strategic Value

After doing the important groundwork in steps one and two, take everything you’ve learned and transform the creative process into the collaborative, value-added experience it can be. This will elevate creatives from mere order takers to strategic partners who weigh in on what types of output will produce the best outcomes.

Say a stakeholder sends a request for a branded HTML email.

Let’s look at how this request plays out as you move from efficiency to strategic value.

  • In step 1, you tier that request and automate the workflow to get the finished asset back to the stakeholder as quickly as possible. If you complete the piece on time and on or under budget, you’ve achieved efficiency.
  • In step 2, you complete the steps needed for efficiency but go one step further. You learn that the purpose of the email is to promote an event. So, after it’s sent, you look at the metrics to see how the email performs. Does it increase the number of event registrations? If so, you’ve achieved efficiency and effectiveness.
  • In step 3, a change in basic assumptions occurs. Instead of taking the request at face value, you seek to communicate more effectively with the stakeholder about the event’s goals. Who is the audience? What are their ages and user patterns? What is the nature of the event itself? Let’s say you learn the event is geared to a younger audience. Your creative team recommends a social media campaign to supplement the email. You check likes and shares to tweak elements of the campaign so that event attendance soars. By doing so, you’ve added strategic value while still operating efficiently and effectively.

Efficient outputs drive good outcomes. But if your team knows what the desired outcomes are from the onset, they can modify the outputs they create to deliver the strategic benefit stakeholders want.

Tame the Chaos – Level Up Your Creative Teams’ Outcomes

No matter how efficient or effective your team is currently, you have the power to level up their performance and help them produce outputs that deliver ever-stronger outcomes.

Explore the Branding Series:

Employer Branding: What Do Great Brands Do Differently?
How to Build Brand Trust Through Social Media
Brand ROI: What Is It and How Can You Measure It?
Is Brand Consistency Important?
Cognitive Dissonance in Branding: What Is it and Why Does it Matter?
Brand Value: What Is It and How Can You Measure It?

Your crucial first step is to tame the chaos. Need help achieving the efficiency that will free you up to focus on outcomes and strategic value with the right brand management tools that will help you streamline your entire workflow and harmonize all brand collateral under a single, uniform platform. Feel free to reach out to us by scheduling a demo and learning how our creative solutions can boost the effectiveness of your creative projects. We look forward to speaking with you!