On Episode 55, Alex Withers is back with an appeal to his fellow CMOs. There are five points, all drawn from the data in the In-House Creative Management Report, that Alex feels CMOs need to take to heart. Some very valuable info here, and some advice on shouting louder than your spend.

Episode Links

  • The 2019 In-House Creative Management Report — inMotionNow has partnered with InSource to conduct a survey of over 500 creative and marketing professionals across industries to gather insight into the leadership, collaboration and relationship between marketing and creative teams. The report combines key findings with best practices and take-away ideas from industry experts at VSP, Delta Vacations, Denver Broncos, Adobe, and many more!
  • inMotionNow — inMotionNow is the leading provider of workflow solutions for enterprise creative and marketing teams.
  • Episode 17: Why CMOs Should Listen to Creatives — On Episode 17, we find out why CMOs should listen to their creative teams. Alex Withers, CMO of InMotionNow, is our guest. And he believes that creatives have a lot to offer CMOs. We recorded this episode on March 7th, 2018, and packaged it up within a couple of hours because it was inspirational. You have to listen to it. Why should CMOs listen to creatives? Let’s ask Alex Withers.
  • Episode 54: In-House Creative Management — On Episode 54, we’re talking in-house creative management with InMotionNow CMO Alex Withers. Last year, in episode 17, we chatted with Alex about why CMOs should listen to creative. It was a powerful episode and I’ve wanted to have Alex back to chat again, and the release of the In-House Creative Management Report gave me a good reason to ring him up. We cover the background of the report, the key conclusions, how a closer creative and marketing relationship can benefit both sides, the always-fun creative brief, and how creatives can use data. Lots packed into this chat.

Cover image from Flickr, public domain.

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Read Full Transcript

Mark: Alex, we're back with part two of our chat about your 2019 in house creative management report. At the end of the report, you have an appeal to the CMO and you share some CMO marching orders. I thought it'd be fun to go through those orders.
Mark: The first one is give the creative team a seat at the strategic table. Can you explain that?
Alex: Yeah. Firstly, we know that creators want to have a seat at the strategic table. They don't want to just be order takers. If you want to increase sharer voice, if you want to shout larger than you'll spend in market, and we do a great job of that and I'm very proud of my team and the investment we make in marketing, which is substantial, but not as much as some of our competition. We shout louder than we spend. And that comes from creative efficiency and collaboration, and making sure the creative process is strategic. The CMO is in charge of, often, actually more often than not, the marketing and creative teams. So, this all rolls up to him or her and how they lead those teams, and how they join those teams.
Alex: So, giving the creative team a seat at the strategic table allows the creative team to produce their best work and have creativity that is in line with the business goals of the organization. It's not easy to be creative. It's easier to be creative but disconnected from the goals of an organization because your creative power is so much freer. We've got to find a way of creating the best work, the best cut through, the best engagement for the business goals of the organization as well as having campaigns that are award winning and create a sense of pride within the company.
Mark: Point number two, provide workflow automation like the rest of the marketing team.
Alex: I believe very passionately about this, full disclaimer, this is the area that there's obviously an agenda from our side, because we're the number one workflow tool for the marketing and creative world. Marketing and creative requires the same level of technology enabled creation, analytics, and efficiency that the rest of the organization has already seems obvious. And yet our business is growing 40% year over year because there's so much runway out there. There are so many things that don't have this yet. And it's amazing that when those teams do deploy a solution like In Motion, the benefits are fantastic and the creative teams are happy, and the morale is up, and the quality of the work goes up.
Mark: The next point seems to me like something that everybody should be doing, but it doesn't seem like it's as widespread as you would want, invest in training and development. What's the secret to that?
Alex: Well, I think this comes back to something we talked about in part one of our conversation around you can't just bolt on a creative team and expect it to work seamlessly with the rest of the organization. The CMOs understand how to invest in marketing training and development because it's a path they've been along. So, they know how to, why to send a marketing manager on a Pardot accelerator or to a serious decisions conference on go to market strategy. They don't understand as much the creative world and how to invest in creative training. So, don't put them in a corner and just make them order takers. Make them a true part of your team, and that involves investing in their careers just as much as you invest in the marketing career.
Mark: That brings us to number four, which is promote an equal partnership between creative and marketing, and maybe it starts with training and development.
Alex: I think it does. I think there are kind of multiple facets to leadership and how you inspire teams, train teams, and how you get the best from teams. And training and development is certainly one of them. Process is one of them. Having respectful service level agreements between the teams. And when those SLAs aren't met, having a very frank conversation with both sides to understand who missed the SLA. Was it the creative were late delivering on something? Was it that marketing didn't give creative enough time to do their job? Or the brief wasn't filled out properly? Or they didn't even fill out a brief?
Alex: It's a little bit like parenting a brother and a sister, and I've got three kids at home, that are squabbling. When you've got to go right in there and understand you can send them both to their rooms, but you've got to understand root cause, who is at fault in the SLA between brother and sister, and create a learning opportunity. It's the same thing in business as a leader. How are you gonna look at these two teams and understand that you can't favor one or the other? You have to embrace them both as unique value adds to the dynamic and respect between the two teams has to be mutual and equal.
Mark: The final point in your appeal to the CMO is improve business context and goals around creative assignments, and that may be connected to what you were just talking about.
Alex: Yeah. I think that it's easy for marketers to believe that the creative team are just so off in their own world of creativity and the Adobe, living in the Adobe creative cloud, so they're not going to understand the business goals, they're not data driven. How do you expect the creative team to have passion for the business versus just their own isolated creativity if you're not sharing business goals and you're not creating a unified mission for the business? And objectives and key results are not proliferated through the whole organization, everyone's not on the same page? So, it's very important.
Alex: If you look back at where marketing was, we were producing these cool ... It was the Mad Men world of 30 second spots. We'd sit in research facilities eating M&Ms with one way mirrors listening to people in qualitative research groups. We didn't have the data feedback mechanisms we have now. Creative has to become data driven and be bought in to the objectives of the organization. So, I would say the appeal to the CMO is don't shut your creative team out of those business conversations. Don't assume they're not interested. Give them a chance to understand business objectives. Give them a chance to understand analytic feedback from the market on how their assets performed. Then be better.
Mark: Outside of this stuff, Alex, any trends or developments you're anticipating for the rest of 2019?
Alex: Well, we know from the trend line of these reports that in house is gonna continue to grow. The economy is strong. Just by going to these big events like How Design Live and Adobe Max, we see the continued investment in the marketing and creative environment. I think we're gonna continue to see the demand for process efficiency. And what we've seen as a business, which is interesting without getting too much in the internal workings of our organization, larger enterprise organizations catching up to the fact that they need to invest in this, and I think that's an industry trend we're gonna see through 2019, 2020, is in house teams, small, medium and large, are gonna see that they have to create a better process with their marketing partners, and they have to appeal to the CMO to take marketing goals and invest in it in the same way you're investing in the rest of the organization.
Mark: Fascinating. It'll be fun to watch and I really appreciate your time here on Confessions of a Marketer, Alex.
Alex: Absolutely, Mark. It's always a pleasure to chat with you and look forward to the next one.