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How to Work with Your Creative Team


Creative marketers from David Ogilvy to Leo Burnett have expressed the thought that the most important ingredient of a great marketing campaign is a great client. But how can you be a great client? Here are some tips to help you work more effectively with your marketing team.


Learn their language. Here are definitions of three important terms to help you.

  1. “Creative Team.” Creative concepts are developed using words and images created by at least two people – a writer and a designer/art director. Each of these partners is an equal contributor to the overall thinking on a project but has a particular expertise in either art or copy.  Today a creative team may also include a tech person to help with the digital production of a campaign. As you can see, creativity is almost always engaged in as a team sport because two, or more, heads really are better than one.
  2. “Brand.” A brand isn’t just a tagline and a logo. These are the symbols of your brand, short hand references that identify it. But when marketers refer to developing a brand they are talking about the whole concept of your company – its products, its culture, its history, its goals. In short, your brand is your company’s personality as well as its reason for being. This personality determines how your advertising and marketing materials will look and sound including which words are used in your copy content, the images and colors used to illustrate your products and services and where you place your advertising. 

              3. “Unique Selling Proposition” or “USP.” 

This is the special promise that distinguishes you from the competition in the eyes of your customer. Sometimes this promise is expressed in a tagline, sometimes not.  But it is always the primary reason customers should choose you over your industry competitors. 


Conversations to have with your marketing team.

Share details about your company’s history and goals

What’s your company’s history – how, why, where and when did it start? 

What are your future goals?

Who is your competition? 

Where do you stand in the marketplace compared to them? 

What is your reputation in the industry?

What’s your relationship with your current customers, vendors, employees and other stakeholders? 

Do you have any problems with these groups you want to address with your marketing?

Where do your customers get their information most frequently?


What you want your marketing to do?

Do you want to introduce a new product, reposition your company for a new generation, attract a more diverse audience, put your company’s name on everyone’s lips and forever in their hearts and minds or just get more bodies in the door as soon as possible? 


Who is your preferred market?

Almost all businesses earn 80% of their profits from 20% of their customers. That 20% should be your preferred customers or preferred marketing target. Who are they? 


Teenagers? Young marrieds? Busy professionals? Executives who have at least a million dollars to invest? Retired seniors living on social security and little else? Where do they live, what motivates them to buy your product? What else do they care about? 


You should also know how many of them visit your Facebook page, read your blog, watch YouTube, listen to the radio, watch certain programs on TV, etc. And you should be prepared to share that knowledge with your creative team before we start working on developing creative for you. 


What’s your marketing budget?

The general rule of thumb is – businesses making less than $5 million a year should spend an amount equal to 7% to 8% of their annual revenue. But companies may be unprepared to put this amount aside upfront.  To find out what you’re spending now – look at your tax returns from last year. Anything that is related to communicating about your business and connecting with customers should be considered part of your marketing budget. Business cards, photos (stock and original), Facebook ads, print ads, YouTube video production and posting, social media posts, robocalls, paying for leads, press releases, signage, promotional giveaways, etc.   Total all these expenses and use that amount as a base line. 


Ask your team to prepare a marketing plan based on this budget.

They should be able to give you an idea of where they’ll be spending your money and what they plan to achieve by these expenses. This information should be concrete and involve NUMBERS! How many dollars do they anticipate spending to reach how many people in your targeted market?


What media will they be using?

The basic rules of marketing may be the same, but the media has changed. Today, a store front may be a brick and mortar building on an urban street or a website whose owner lives in the middle of corn field in Iowa.  Radio is still a mass media option but it can deliver a more targeted audience than ever before. The same is true for TV spots and magazine ads. Ads and websites have to be designed for cell phones as well as desk tops. The post office can produce as well as deliver highly targeted postcard campaigns. YouTube and a cell phone enable you to produce and run commercials at no cost 24 hours a day. Social media is like word of mouth on steroids and should always be part of your marketing mix.


Establish a timeline that allows you and the marketing team to track who will be doing what when.

Build in milestones for both groups and set meeting times to work together and compare notes. Include budget as well as the timeline in the discussions to place during these meetings.


Choose a point person for the project and ask the agency to do the same. These folks will be the go to person on the project from start to finish. They will handle any problems with scheduling, production, shipping material etc.


Good luck with your projects! And remember – when in doubt ask questions, listen to the answers and treat everyone as the partners they should be.


Wendy Lalli



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