Creatives Count -- And They're Taking On New Tasks, Survey Finds

Here’s some advice for those who reside in the C suite: Be kind to that overworked party who writes your email copy. Invite them out for dinner when you see them working until 9 p.m. 

That’s one conclusion to be drawn from In-House Creative Management 2020, a study by InSource with Inmotionnow.

The survey shows that 72% of in-house creatives do 75% of a firm’s creative work, and that 66% are taking on new responsibilities outside of traditional creative roles -- everything from driving the company culture to analytics and the customer experience. Indeed, 47% of creatives spend a full day a week on administrative tasks.

What’s more, 89% at all levels agree that creative work is important for driving business objectives. 

Those goals include:

Brand recognition — 56%

Engagement metrics (opens, clicks, form fills, etc.).

ROI based on revenue tied to the work — 31%

Lead generation — 31% 

Please note that three of the four areas are those in which email writers are specialists. Of course, 43% say the business impact is not clearly defined for the creative team.

Fledgling direct mail copywriters were taught that literary merit had no bearing on their work: It was the numbers that counted.

Duke Habernickel, late founder of Haband (a seller of inexpensive pants) famously wrote DR ads filled with grammatical errors and misspellings. And they pulled and pulled. 

Design is similar: It’s not the beauty of the ad that counts but eye flow and whether it moves the reader to purchase. Sometimes ugly sells. 

Creative teams remain beleaguered. Among their challenges: 

  • Speed at which creative teams are expected to work — 77%
  • Volume of demand for creative work — 72%
  • Being seen as a strategic contributor to meeting operational goals — 63%
  • Increasing variety of marketing channels that need creative — 55% 
  • Communicating with clients and meeting expectations — 32% 
  • New technologies that change the way teams work — 31%
  • Retaining and supporting creative staff — 29% 

It’s a tough life: only 17% of creatives often get quantitative feedback on creative content performance: 55% rarely or never do. The remainder get at least some comment on performance.

On the positive side, The survey shows that the creative process has been streamlined:

  • 83% of projects are approved within 5 rounds of review, up from 77% in 2019.
  • 78% of projects are approved within a week, up from 65% in last year.

What’s more, 87% of creatives say they are getting the same or more credit for organizational results than they did a year ago. 

Learn what you can from this. But someone should also do a survey on the relationships between writers, art directors and production teams (including those who actually get out the email campaign). 

In his book, Up the Agency, author Peter Mayle wrote that when agency creatives finally do their work after weeks of waiting for inspiration, “a satisfying change in relationships takes place. Instead of being hounded for work by every busybody in the agency, it is now the turn of the writer and art director to do the hounding.”

What remains to be done are “mechanical tasks, nothing compared to the sweat and genius that have gone into the act of creation. Relaxed and triumphant, the writer and art director head for the local watering hole for a quiet celebration while their colleagues work on into the night.”

(Too bad that less half of those surveyed by InSource agree that their team has robust reporting on creative production).  

And perhaps the language should be changed. I seem to recall the master copywriter and author Denny Hatch saying he does not want to be called a creative.

Surveyed over 600 people who work in creative and marketing roles. Among them, over 70% hold creative position, and 42% managerial titles. And 60% have had an in-house team for 10 years or longer.


Next story loading loading..