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Just Listen!!! Collaboration Pointers for Marketers and Creatives

David Bosley

Communicating efficiently and effectively with others is often a learned skill, and one that individuals work on for much of their lives. Marketers are generally creative folks, but it can be difficult to fully translate their strategies into an actionable design that creatives can use to deliver a finished product. If you’re finding your teams stuck in endless rounds of revisions and feeling a great deal of frustration, these tips will help open the lines of communication to deliver amazing results. 

Help Me, Help You

The days of a formal creative brief that lays out exactly what should be designed may be numbered — or are they? Text that may show up on a traditional creative brief could include statements such as: 

  • “Think outside the box, but keep the brand intact”.
  • “We want the campaign design to bring in lots of new Millennials to our brand”. 
  • “Be sure to differentiate the design to speak to all audience segments”.

Not only are these statements patently unhelpful, they almost guarantee that creative types will be scratching their heads and wondering where to begin. However, a creative brief that defines the basic bones of the campaign can be helpful, including such items as:

  • Timelines and deadlines
  • Products or services being promoted
  • Target audience segments
  • Budget
  • Responsibilities
  • Desired outcomes
  • Action plan
  • Platforms (Facebook, print, web)

Putting these more concrete needs into a true “brief” and then having a creative cross-team conversation may help your teams find alignment much more quickly. 

Collaboration for the Win

Whoever said that two heads are better than one was definitely talking about the collaboration between marketing and design. Infusing a marketer’s data-driven insights and knowledge of the customer with a designer’s creative and highly-engaging mind, you’re sure to come up with a stellar campaign — as long as the two teams are truly creating a shared vision of success. Successful marketers take the time to fully expand on their vision, such as including audience segments and the content that will go into a campaign before passing it along to the design team. Sketches or other projects that are similar will help designers get to the visual look marketers are going for more quickly, too. These visual references are the start of a shared vision for the final campaign that will keep both teams focused on the end results. 

Telling the Story

Marketers or creatives alone cannot tell the story — it takes both teams to craft a compelling reason for prospects to make a purchase. Telling the story requires creatives to weave the narrative throughout the visuals and text, even down to the way content is presented on a website or drafted into a print piece. Where content is placed can be as important as what is being said. When marketers take the time to bring designers alongside them with the strategy, designers are more likely to be able to deliver a cohesive piece that fulfills all the business needs as well as being a design masterpiece. 

Cross-Functional Knowledge

It’s not reasonable to suggest that designers learn marketing strategy and marketers take a design course, but it doesn’t hurt to involve teams in shared strategy meetings whenever possible. This cross-functional knowledge sharing provides teams with a deeper understanding of the goals of the overall project and how it relates to their work on the campaign. Anticipating the needs and planning for additional rounds of revisions will help keep communication flowing and reducing the chance that one team will shut down and go into protective mode.

Setting the scene for strong collaboration begins at project inception, when both teams come together to agree upon critical items such as deadlines, revisions and deliverables. While these can change throughout the course of the project, all changes should be mutually agreed-upon and clearly communicated in order to ensure the projects stay on schedule and within budget. These tips are not just applicable for internal teams. They are also useful when you’re working with creative agencies or your digital marketing firm.