Having an in-house creative services team has been viewed as a luxury to mid-market companies, or a burden to the enterprise. “Our agency does that…” Right, and you pay for it in money and time. The traditional procedure is to hire an outside agency, or contractor (usually Web first, print second) to handle your creative projects for you. But this model presents a number of challenges.
A Real Need for Real-Time
An in-house team provides you with immediate access, flexibility and an ability to react and optimize in real-time. Even minor changes to a Web site like a banner, a page update or a new offer take several days; as you contact your agency, pay out the wazoo and then wait for them to make the change. Take that time and cost, multiply it over a year, and you’ll end up with a number that you won’t like. You probably would have paid for 2 or 3 in-house people that would have actually gotten the work done on time with less supervision.
Instead of viewing creative resources as a cost-center, there are a number of reasons to change your view to see it as a profit-center, with a potentially high return on investment-if running correctly.
So how do you align your in-house resources to support your direct marketing initiatives? There are a few key areas that will optimize your creative team to become a valuable resource in your marketing programs.
1. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
- Headcount: Invest your headcount by supporting programs that have a tangible impact on your business. It is essential to have someone-in the marketing team-that is managing your Web site. Probably a couple actually.
- Budgets: There are a couple of ways to manage your money. Either to outsource everything to contractors and agencies, do it all in-house, or both. Print is much easier to outsource than Web, though banner production can be shipped out.
2. A Little Help for Your Friends
- Make sure your objectives are aligned with the objectives of the demand team. Objectives should be something like: supporting campaigns and programs, support brand and awareness and general services.
- Teach each member of your creative team demand principles. Guide their solutions to business and creative problems toward improving response either through copy, creative or a combination of the two.
3. Don’t Go Following the White Rabbit
- Focus efforts on demand creative. Prioritize demand-creation projects (offers, landing pages, banners, etc.) over projects that yield lesser tangible results (like t-shirts, or mudflaps for your boss’s truck).
- Avoid distractions. Its easy to get caught up on details, or pining over perfection, rather that getting solutions to market.
4. Nothing Wrong with Cookie Cutters
- Templates are your friends. Banner, headers, guides, whitepapers, product overviews, landing page mark-up and even some email can be outsourced. Original concepts should be home-grown, but all production should be outsourced to allow your designers to move on to the next project.