The 3 Things You Need to Embrace the “Do More With Less” Mantra

Creative teams need the right skills, people and resources

Here’s something just about every marketer and every creative knows all too well: You are under greater pressure to deliver more content and creative assets than ever—all while having fewer resources.

Demands are high. Time is tight. Budgets are even tighter. Stress levels? You know all about those too.

New tactics and media seem to emerge every day, and you’ve got to pick and choose the right ones for your organization and for your clients. Creative output is no longer simply about delivering your own great executions, but also about finding ways to keep up with what your competitors are doing. There’s increasing pressure to innovate and gain first-mover advantage across these emerging channels.

As a result, just about every marketing and creative team has to pivot between projects and pivot between industries. It’s an intense juggling exercise, and it seems like someone is always challenging you to toss another ball in the air.

What’s the solution?  It all comes down to skills, teams and resources.

That may seem easier said than done. On a recent Adweek webinar we did—Move from Project to Project and Industry to Industry Without Pulling Your Hair Out—we broke down the solution into three key areas:

The right skills

What skills do you need on your teams?

Chances are you don’t even consider that, beyond the rudimentary “it’s a digital program so we need a digital designer” approach, but the skillsets of your team need to mirror the actual creative executions of your projects and you’ve got to build that out based on the scope outlined in your creative brief. In other words, if you can, it’s best not to build your team before you have your brief done or you might not have the right skills to get it all done effectively–because, frankly, you just don’t know what specific roles and responsibilities you need to account for.

Let’s consider one crucial role—the person who is in charge of making sure the project succeeds. In many organizations, that’s the project manager, and they guide the program by checking off lists, keeping track of dates and ensuring that budgets are met, but is that the right skillset for your execution? Or would you be better served by a creative producer, who can keep the so-called trains running on time, but is also better equipped to motivate your creative team and deliver a fully formed execution?

Again, turn to the brief to see what skillsets you need, so you don’t end up going down the wrong path and wasting precious time and resources.

The right people

People issues can make or break your team’s success. It’s not simply about bringing in the right skillsets. While that’s important, there are cultural and communication issues that are just as critical.

Look at how the members of your team can complement each other. Some people might be specialists—a great print designer who doesn’t get digital, for instance. Others might fall into the Swiss Army Knife category—lots of different skills, but not a master in any one specific area. Understanding the skills you need and what your final deliverable needs to be, you should be able to assemble an effective team.

A word of advice: When you’re tight on time and resources, it can be helpful to have people who are flexible and who can move between different tasks with little disruption—so that’s worth including as a key consideration when assembling your team.

Also, don’t rule out freelancers. In today’s free-agent economy, there are a lot of experienced contractors out there who can bring their expertise—and outside-in view—to your project. They are not just creative professionals—there are freelance producers, project specialists, and strategists out there who can seamlessly meld into your project team.

The right resources

For most creative organizations, resources are in short supply—OpenText Hightail’s recent creative collaboration survey found that 82 percent of marketers say they have fewer resources than necessary to meet the demands of creative asset production. That’s why having the right tools for both creating and managing your projects efficiently and effectively is more critical than ever.

Also, it is extremely important to be transparent with everyone involved about how much budget and time a project will take. Failing to outline this clearly from the start will only lead to disappointing results. Again, building out a clear creative brief and determining project scope will help with this. Be realistic as well—certainly, every group has taken on a project whose timeline seems unrealistically tight and that’s just a recipe for missing a deadline and disappointing a client.

One of the biggest time sucks for a creative group is the feedback and approval process. Teams get stuck in endless email strings, the context of comments and changes can get lost, and with so many versions floating around, it can be difficult to keep track of where a project stands. Implementing the right mix of digital asset management, project management and creative collaboration tools can go a long way in increasing your team’s efficiency. (And a tool like Hightail manages all content, feedback and approvals in one place).

Doing more with less isn’t a challenge that’s going to go away. It is really how business is being conducted now. But with the right skills, people and resources, you can set yourself up to conquer that reality.

As VP, Brand & Digital Services, Layla Revis leads brand creative, web and marketing technology services at OpenText. For almost 20 years, she has helped Fortune 500 consumer and technology companies—ranging from Donna Karan and Lincoln Motor Company to DeBeers Diamond Jewelers and Visa—craft creative campaigns and digital strategies.