Commentary

Marketing + Creative = Success

According to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 B2B Content Marketing Survey, the number of marketers describing their organizations as effective at content marketing dropped to 30% (from 38% in the 2015 survey).

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Concurrently, as a discipline, content marketing is exploding. eMarketer reports that more than $118 billion is spent annually on the production and distribution of digital content. That number is projected to reach $300 billion by 2019. At the same time, competition is on the rise because the size and content consumption of the U.S. audience has plateaued.

To understand more about what it takes to produce content that’s effective in this increasingly crowded space, Visually surveyed marketers and creatives to see how they work together. The study revealed that the relationship between marketers and their creative teams isn’t always harmonious. At a high level, these were the biggest observations:

  • Better communication is needed. Both marketers and creatives have a rosier view of their own performance than their counterparts, especially with delivering final content that meets expectation or giving actionable feedback.
  • Creative teams are understaffed. One thing marketers and creatives agreed on was that creative teams don’t usually have the personnel they need. 58% of marketers with in-house teams turn to freelancers, agencies and online services to scale their efforts
  • Despite the fact that content helps marketers meet a lot of their objectives, it’s not always a smooth road getting from strategy to execution, says the report. Only 37% of marketers were extremely or very satisfied with the work they received from writers and designers. Almost 20% described themselves as unsatisfied.

Creatives were more optimistic in their self-assessment. For example, 43% of creatives viewed their work as extremely or very effective, while only 26% of marketers thought the creative work they received was as effective. An additional 9% didn’t know whether their work was effective or not—an early sign that communication may not be effective as it could be.

Satisfaction With The Content Produced By The Creative Team

Degree of Satisfaction

% of Respondents

Extremely satisfied

9%

Very satisfied

28%

Satisfied

44%

Not very satisfied

18%

Extremely unsatisfied

1%

Source: Visually, December 2015

And despite the low effectiveness ratings from marketers, 93% of marketers are proud of the work that they do.

Pride Of The Content You And Your Team Produce

Degree of Pride

% of Respondents

Extremely proud

13%

Very proud

41%

Proud

39%

Not very proud

6%

Not proud at all

1%

Source: Visually, December 2015

In the eyes of marketers, says the report, there was room for improvement across the board, but a few creative duties received especially low marks. When it came to staffing adequately, anticipating problems, or following a transparent process, less than 30% of marketers thought the creatives they work with did well. This assessment held true whether the creatives were part of in-house teams, agencies, or freelancers.

Creatives also received low ratings in three areas related to the briefing process. Less than 40% of marketers listed following the brief, asking questions that make the brief better, and communicating concerns as things their creative teams did well.

Marketers Respond To: Which Of The Following Does Your Creative Team Do Well (% of Marketers)

Discipline

% Who Say Creative Does Well

Consistency

53%

Responding to feedback

52%

Ask questions to get clarity

51%

Meeting deadlines

47%

Delivering final content that meets expectations

46%

Communicating concerns

38%

Following the brief

36%

Feedback that makes brief better

34%

Transparent process

29%

Anticipating problems

27%

Staffing adequately

24%

Source: Visually, December 2015

Creative teams saw the dynamics of their working relationship a little differently, says the report. While briefing came up as one of the easier parts of the process, they thought estimating the scope of work and agreeing on a timeline were two of the most difficult activities. Both of these activities flow directly from briefings and project kickoffs, so these results suggest briefs aren’t as detailed or thought out as they should be.

Creatives Responding To Which Of The Following Does The Marketing Team You Collaborate With Do Well?

Consideration

% Agreeing Marketing Does Well

Sticking to the brief

8%

Sticking to established processes

23%

Briefing projects clearly

23%

Staying within the initial scope

24%

Giving consistent feedback

28%

Giving timely feedback

29%

Setting realistic deadlines

32%

Sharing results

33%

Giving actionable feedback

36%

Reasonable timelines

38%

Responding to your concerns

40%

Communicating priorities

42%

Sharing credit with your team

43%

Actually using the content you produce

58%

Source: Visually, December 2015

The study found that creatives could do a better job of communicating earlier in the process and content marketers could do a better job of outlining their needs up front, says the report, but it’s also worth taking a moment to see how each group viewed its own performance in the face of these criticisms.

Both creatives and marketers tended to have a rosier view of their own work than their counterparts. But for creatives, the discrepancies were biggest when it came to delivering content that met expectations. Additional areas where creatives’ and marketers’ opinions had the biggest discrepancies are; 

Do Creatives Do The Following Well?

 

Creatives Who Say Yes

Marketers Who Say Yes

Disparity

Delivering final content that meets expectations

68%

46%

+22%

Anticipating problems

47%

27%

+20%

Asking questions to get clarity

68%

51%

+17%

Creating consistent content

69%

52%

+17%

Source: Visually, December 2015

When marketers’ self-assessment is compared with what creatives thought, a few new opportunities to improve the relationship emerge. While sharing more credit with creatives might help boost their overall positivity, marketers also overestimated their ability to give timely and actionable feedback, says the report. 

Do Marketers Do The Following Well?

 

Marketers Who Say Yes

Creatives Who Say Yes

Disparity

Giving actionable feedback

55%

36%

+19%

Sharing credit with creative

62%

44%

+18%

Giving timely feedback

46%

29%

+17%

Communicating priorities

57%

42%

+15%

Briefing projects clearly

38%

23%

+15%

Source: Visually, December 2015

One problem area that both marketers and creatives agreed on was the lack of adequate staffing. Only 24% of marketers felt the creative teams they work with were staffed adequately. While creatives generally tended to evaluate themselves more positively than the marketers they work with, this is one place where they didn’t: Just 16% of creatives felt that they did a good job of maintaining enough bandwidth to meet marketers’ demands.

A deeper look, says the report, found that 58% of the marketers who most frequently used an in-house creative team also relied on external contributions from freelancers, agencies, or online services. 16% of marketers used two or more types of these external resources.

In fact, says the report, 40% of marketers who have access to in-house creative teams, relied most frequently on external creative resources. However, there was less than 10% variance in satisfaction ratings between the highest and lowest performing types of creative teams.

The study found that creative teams that collaborated better with their marketing partners got more done and produced more successful content. And, the marketers who are most satisfied with their creative teams also think the creative process is easier.

In addition, these same marketers considered every single part of the creative process, from kickoff to final delivery, to be easier as well, says the report. A similar correlation is seen with looking at the marketers who consider their content most effective. Bottom line? Ease, effectiveness, and satisfaction go hand in hand.

Ease Of Collaboration With The Creative Teams Worked With

Collaboration

All Marketers

Marketers Who Are Very Satisfied

Very easy

24%

42%

Easy

38%

45%

Neither easy nor difficult

26%

9%

Hard

11%

5%

Very difficult

1%

0%

Source: Visually, December 2015

When you’re a marketer, the relationships you have with your creative team can ultimately dictate whether you’re successful, says the report. Amazing insights and a brilliant strategy won’t matter if the creative team can’t execute. Good communication means better campaigns, more bandwidth, and maybe most importantly, fewer fire drills, headaches, and frustration concludes the report.

For additional information from Visually, please visit here.

 

 

1 comment about "Marketing + Creative = Success".
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  1. William Hoelzel from JWB Associates, December 24, 2015 at 7:13 a.m.

    There must be awards for content marketing -- not simply the writing but the concept.  

    Could you give us a link to those awards, please?  For example, I recall a sponsored story on a survey about how many vacation days Americans left used each year and why people didn't use them -- sponsored by American Express Travel!  Brilliant!

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