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3 things you need to know to pivot between projects

Creative work can be extremely fun and rewarding, although not without its challenges. Pivoting between projects and industries is key to success, but time pressures and hard deadlines can make this an intense juggling exercise.

During a recent Adweek webinar, sponsored by OpenText™ Hightail™, I shared some ways to “Move from Project to Project and Industry to Industry Without Pulling Your Hair Out.”

The right skills

Every person on the project needs a clear brief – what needs to happen (deliverables), when (deadline), and why (call-to-action). Prior to any creative development, you always need to make sure there is agreement on concise, clear messaging, as well as the call-to-action. Keep track of resources and clearly communicate what’s available for each project, but don’t forget to take the time to reassess a project’s progress. Continuing down the wrong path can waste hours or even days.

The right people

Obviously, you need the right people on your team, but also you need to optimize their skillsets for each project. Personally, I look for flexibility and curiosity as key traits in my hires. During interviews, I’ll often ask candidates: “What is a role you have never had, but would like to have?” I find this uncovers both career curiosity and growth ambitions.

The right resources

It’s important to be realistic and transparent about how much budget and time a project will take, not outlining this clearly from the start can lead to disappointing results. According to a recent creative collaboration survey conducted by OpenText Hightail and Digiday, 82 percent of marketers say they have fewer resources than necessary to meet the demands of creative asset production. This means it’s critical to use the right tools – both for content creation and project collaboration. Tools like Hightail that can manage all content, feedback, and approvals in one place.

During the webinar, I was asked some great questions about implementing this mix of skills, people, and resources in the right way.

Who should be involved in the briefing?

My mantra is: “No brief, no business!” Briefing is a vital part of any project, but having too many people involved can make it go off the rails. Keep it to a small, critical team initially, including key individuals from production, strategy, and creative.

How can you stop excessive revisioning?

Do the research – and show the numbers. Can you put a dollar value to the time taken to do 400 revisions, for example? Do this on one project, and you have a baseline to work from for future projects.

We recently looked at how much time was spent copy-editing marketing emails and landing pages in order to decide if the multiple iterations were a good use of our resources. I’m all for being a perfectionist, but there comes a time when the data shows it becoming excessive and unproductive.

How can you ensure the right resources are being used?

All resources are finite – you have X projects and Y people. If X is too big, or Y is too small you’re not going to get the best work out of people. You’ll need to look at getting more resources, different resources, or fewer projects.

This is where the wider marketing organization needs to share responsibility. Instead of spamming your audience with multiple assets, take a more focused approach with fewer (arguably better) assets or a more specific audience – and dedicate more budget towards those, more personalized creative assets.

How do you change a process that doesn’t work, but no one wants to change?

You can’t just tell a team something isn’t working, and they need to change it. If you notice something is broken, you need to get buy-in to fix it. Asking your teams how a process can be improved is the first step to collaborative success. Make the case for the alternative, get people to buy into it, visually showcase how it could work better, and then move it up the ladder.

How do you get senior leadership on board?

Senior executives can be the worse about following processes as they have such little time. My advice is to find an executive sponsor, educate them on needs and challenges, showcase the improvements that should be made, and get them on board.

This approach also works with your team. They are the ones dealing with broken processes all day, every day, so encourage them to communicate in short, succinct, compelling, and clear ways. This will make your life easier when it comes to making the big changes with your senior management team.

The best way for senior execs to really understand is to see the data. The impact on budgets and ROI when things aren’t done well such as excessive revisioning leading to time/cost expenditure, staff attrition from burn out or frustration.

If you have the data to support why something needs to be changed, it’s very hard to argue that it doesn’t!

For more of the information I shared, please watch the webinar on demand.

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Layla Revis

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

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