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How to Bridge the Gap Between Creative Ambitions and the Bottom Line

looking through a glass wall into a conference room where coworkers casually discuss business

Whether you’re the CMO of a Fortune 500 company or a small business owner, the following statement will likely ring true: Creative ambitions for marketing don’t always align with the realities of business.

Overcoming the gap between innovation and the bottom line is increasingly important given the astounding number of marketing images seen by your customers — in a given day, the average consumer can be bombarded with thousands of brand images and messages.

The reality is messages get lost all the time in a sea of social media posts, banner ads, and broadcast emails. Your brand must bring its A game to get noticed. All. The. Time.

The roadblocks that brands face every day are unending. From the Adobe Stock report “State of Creativity: How a Global Pandemic and Cultural Movements Are Impacting the Industry,” a clear majority of creative teams agree: 

  • I am being asked to develop more content in less time. (77%)
  • My team’s workflow could be more efficient. (80%)

For many creators, it is getting harder to navigate rapidly evolving trends in visual culture and topics. Which begs the question: Is it time to start (or continue) that discussion around outsourcing your creative needs. Here are a few reasons why and how it would make a lot of sense if you did.

The well-known secret to working smarter, not harder

You need to figure out how to stand out from the crowd. The good news is the same technological innovations that have flooded society with marketing messaging have also revolutionized human capital.

Once upon a time, you had to put all your marketing eggs in one basket — whether that was a jack-of-all-trades who possessed broad skills but lacked technical depth or an in-house creative team (read: expensive). In today’s working world, where the “gig” economy is increasingly popular and more and more creatives prefer the flexibility of consulting and agencies, gaining access to top talent has become much easier.

Rather than seeking out additional personnel with broad (not deep) knowledge, and taking on the costs of additional full-time overhead, some companies seek partnerships with organizations that help find the right staffing solutions for their marketing needs.

  • Shared services model: a team works onsite at the company
  • Agency model: access to a global network of talented creatives through a single point of contact

Think about it: you might not need a graphic designer 52 weeks a year. The right marketing partner, however, can connect you with the right designer on an as-needed project basis and manage that professional so your only responsibility is ensuring the branding is right and executed efficiently.

In some specific use cases relying on consultant talent can deliver better ROI for your marketing dollars. (We have quite a few examples to share if you’re interested.)

Finding the right audience

Even the most compelling message is ineffective if it doesn’t reach the right audience. According to the Dentsu report “Leading in Uncertain Times,” new normals and evolving consumers have CMOs perplexed. A finding from the report shows “Understanding what consumer behavior is temporary vs. permanent” as the top challenge CMOs expect to face.

To resonate with your audience, an effective digital experience is essential. However, that’s not possible without a strong foundation in data and analytics. This foundation will better ensure that your content is being harnessed and distributed as effectively as possible.

The problem is, with so much data out there, the starting block can also be a stumbling block. Not only do you need to find the right audience data, it also needs to be integrated into the most effective martech for your brand. 

To optimize your martech infrastructure, lean on a capable partner with a proven track record in deploying effective martech stacks. This kind of external expert support will lead you to what works and what doesn’t when it comes to utilizing the tools and tech that best match your needs and goals.

Meeting modern design challenges

It’s not a shock to learn that consumers prefer beautifully designed content. I remember a stat from a few years back from another Adobe report (“The State of Content”) that emphasized a key reason consumers switch devices or give up on content altogether is due to unattractive content.

According to that past research: “With only 15 minutes to consume content, 66% [of consumers] would prefer to view something beautifully designed vs. simple and plain.”

Whether it’s the billboards we see on our daily commute or the smartphone that never leaves our side, we’re used to beauty in design. Anything less looks unprofessional to an increasingly sophisticated customer base. This is a problem for business owners.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I have the time or budget to hire and employ a full-time graphic designer?
  • Am I willing to devote resources to managing multiple contractors?
  • I know good design can increase your sales, reduce customer service calls, and even cut costs, but is the ROI enough to manage the process myself?

The answer is probably a collective “no.” In today’s world, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to design, whether it’s digital, print, or packaging. Your message needs to resonate as well on a smartphone and tablet as it does on a laptop; your packaging must stand up to governmental regulation as well as the demands of the supply chain.

You’re not likely to find a single graphic designer who possesses all of these skills and fully understands the design parameters of your industry and the production capabilities. 

Gaining access to a global talent pool of professionals and experts — from the fields of design, marketing, technology, analysis, data science, and business — can propel your company forward in its pursuit to realize its vision.

Analyzing your success

With so many marketing touchpoints, it’s a challenge to determine where the decision to buy occurs in the customer journey. Much like in recent years, brand marketers continue to not only prioritize data and audience management — they’re focused on analytics.

Results from the Ascend2 report "Using Marketing Data to Make Better Decisions" revealed data-driven personalization and customer journey mapping are two “data-driven trends that will be most critical” to their decision-making process.

You might have several piecemeal statistics — an open rate here, past purchase behavior there, social shares over there — but how do they all fit together? And are those really the KPIs that will help you determine which next step is the best next step and whether your marketing dollars are truly delivering?

A data-driven and consultative marketing partner can help you analyze this data using ad hoc and prepackaged business intelligence dashboards.

WHITE PAPER: 10 Reasons for Outsourcing Your Content and Creative Services 

The bottom line: Organizations need  — whether you want to admit it or not — a personnel solution that delivers for both their business and their creative vision. Marrying the two comes down to  hiring the right people (whether that’s an internal resource or a partner leveraging a network of resources).

It’s a tough topic — and one worth talking about.


 
Andrew Johnson is Vice President of Operations, Global Brand Solutions at RRD. If you’re looking to tell meaningful stories with new resources, learn more about our global creative services studio from GO Creative™.