15 Things Creatives Need to Understand About Marketers
The relationship between creatives and marketers is a delicate dance. Both bring invaluable yet distinctly different skills to the table. When they understand each other and work together seamlessly, magic happens. But all too often, these two tribes speak different languages.
Creatives rightly prioritise artistry, inspiration, and vision. Marketers live in a world of data, analytics, and strategy. Frustration ensues when expectations aren't aligned.
But it doesn't have to be this way. With more mutual understanding, creatives and marketers can become dream teammates. This guide will explore the essential things creatives need to know about the mysterious marketing mind.
Marketers Speak a Different Language
Marketers toss around terms like “customer avatar”, “conversion funnel”, and “lifetime value.” Meanwhile, creatives are focused on “conception”, “art direction”, and “UX.” At first glance, we're talking about completely unrelated topics.
To work together effectively, creatives need to get familiar with some marketing lingo:
- Personas: Detailed profiles marketers create to represent customer segments. This helps guide messaging and content creation.
- Conversion: When a visitor takes a desired action like signing up, purchasing, etc. Marketers obsess over increasing conversion rates.
- Calls-to-Action (CTAs): Buttons or links that encourage visitors to convert. CTAs are a vital tool for marketers.
- Landing Pages: Web pages built specifically to convert visitors rather than inform them, focused entirely on getting users to take action.
Mastering a few basic marketing terms goes a long way. Creatives who try to learn this new vocabulary will gain significant credibility with their marketing teammates.
Marketers Rely Heavily on Data and Testing
Creatives tend to make decisions based on intuition, emotion, and experience. Marketers lean almost entirely on complex data and rigorous testing.
What resonates visually or seems inspiring to a creative may not achieve results in the marketplace. Marketers care most about what converts, what generates ROI, and what drives growth.
It can create tension when creatives dismiss data or resist testing new options. However, avoiding a “gut vs. data” standoff is easily achieved when creatives appreciate the marketer's mindset.
If creatives embrace testing and champion data-driven decisions, they become invaluable marketing partners. An openness to experimentation and analysis leads to better work all around.
Things Creatives Need to Understand About Marketers
Here are 15 key things creatives need to know about the mysterious marketing mind:
1 – Marketers Are Strategists, Not Just Tacticians
Many creatives assume marketers are all about tactics – executing one-off campaigns and promotions. However, savvy marketers spend much of their time in strategic mode.
They analyse customer data to spot trends and opportunities. They map comprehensive plans to launch products and engage audiences over months or years. The tactics come later.
Understand that marketers are big-picture thinkers who care deeply about positioning brands for long-term success. Work with them early in strategic planning, not just campaign execution.
2 – Metrics drive them…
While you focus on the creative process, marketers fixate on quantitative results. They'll press you for data on how your work will connect with customers and drive measurable outcomes.
3 – …But They Don't Completely Dictate Decisions
Just because marketers are metrics-focused doesn't mean they'll choose generic, bland, creative concepts. They know breakthrough work builds brands and drives results over time.
Marketers aim to balance metrics with memorable storytelling and experiences. Be ready to make a strong case for bold ideas tied to strategic objectives. Help them feel comfortable pushing boundaries.
4 – They're Always Juggling Multiple Priorities
Junior marketers may focus on specific campaigns or tactics. But marketing directors and VPs juggle a continually shifting set of priorities across teams, projects, and budgets.
One week, digital ads are the priority. The next is a press release for a partnership announcement. And all the while, they're debating next year's budget with the CFO.
When working with marketing leaders, understand they're pulled in many directions. Check in frequently to ensure you're aligned on priorities.
5 – They Speak a Different Language
Marketing has its dense lexicon spanning channel strategies, metrics, buyer journeys, funnels, and much more. Expect lots of jargon and acronyms when talking to marketers.
Be bold and ask what something means in plain English. Marketers who can translate concepts into understandable language have an advantage. Avoiding jargon also helps cross-functional teams collaborate.
6 – They're Always On
Today's marketing never sleeps. With websites, social media, mobile apps, and more to manage – it's 24/7/365. There's always an audience online somewhere to engage.
For creatives used to more contained projects and timelines, marketing's nonstop rhythm can be jarring. Understand that marketers are often stretched thin trying to feed the content beast.
7 – They Know Creativity Takes Time
Speaking of timelines, seasoned marketers understand that creative work can't be rushed. They account for adequate conception, revision, and approval cycles.
However, they also can't afford extended production times that hold up campaigns. Explain your process so they can plan accordingly. If you need more time, make the case early on.
8 – Collaboration is Second Nature
Marketing teams thrive on collaboration. They're used to working cross-functionally with creatives, sales, product teams, PR, and more.
Collaboration maximises reach and alignment. But it also takes time, patience, and compromise. Be ready to explain your perspective and ideas to multiple stakeholders. Learn to receive feedback diplomatically.
9 – They Avoid Tunnel Vision
The marketing landscape evolves at warp speed. What works today becomes obsolete tomorrow. Savvy marketers stay on top of trends and keep an open mind.
While creatives dig into crafting campaigns, marketers also explore the next big thing. Try to learn about emerging tech, platforms, and strategies from them.
10 – They Speak Customer
At their core, marketers are obsessed with customers – their needs, motivations, and desires. They become quasi-anthropologists studying target demographics and psychographics.
Marketers constantly ask, “How will customers react?” and “What do customers want?” Catering creative work to customer needs is critical. Talk to marketers early on to absorb their customer insights.
11 – They Avoid Silos
Too often, creative and marketing teams operate in silos. But marketers know this limits success. They aim to build bridges across functions.
Be willing to interact directly with sales, product, and other teams. Participate in cross-functional meetings when possible. Break down silos by sharing insights into the creative process.
12 – They Never Stop Testing
Many creatives treat their work like fine art. Perfect as is. However, savvy marketers test concepts, offers, and assets continually. They're always looking for improvement.
Don't be offended if marketing wants to test multiple headlines, images, or calls to action. The data helps optimise engagement and conversion.
13 – They Focus on Cost Efficiency
Marketing budgets are not what they used to be. Teams are pressured to maximise results on tight resources. Marketers obsess over maximising campaigns' cost efficiency.
Be ready to discuss options at different budget levels. Explain if aspects of your work directly impact costs. Offer cost-effective alternatives if possible.
14 – They Thrive on Partnership
Marketers don't hand off campaigns and expect finished products. They see creative collaboration as a partnership rooted in trust and teamwork.
Keep communication open throughout conception and creation. Be receptive to feedback. Share progress frequently to avoid surprises. Treat marketing as collaborators, not just clients.
15 – They Want Your Creative Instincts
No doubt, marketers rely heavily on data. But they also long for partners who bring creative intuition and inspiration.
Don't hold back your wildest ideas and instincts. Push marketing beyond their comfort zone. Offer an outside perspective they don't get in metrics.
Takeaways for Creatives on Working with Marketers
The gulf between creatives and marketers is not nearly as vast as it may seem. With the proper understanding and alignment, these two tribes can accomplish incredible things together.
Key Takeaways for Creatives
- Learn basic marketing terminology to improve communication
- Embrace data and testing as tools to drive better creative
- Support marketers in delivering concrete business results
- Advocate for adequate time for creative development
- Speak up when data paralysis sets in
We all want the same thing: To do work we're proud of that delivers tangible results. When creatives grasp the marketer's reality, they become more effective partners.
And marketers must remember that creativity and inspiration are not the enemy. They are essential ingredients even in the most data-driven marketing efforts.
Creativity and marketers can do their best work with mutual understanding and respect. And when this dream team comes together, magic happens.
Frequently Asked Questions About Creatives Working with Marketers
Here are some common questions creatives have about collaborating with marketing teammates:
How much marketing knowledge do I need as a creative?
You don't need to become a data whiz, but learning a few basic terms goes a long way. Focus on the marketing concepts covered in this article. Just understanding campaign goals and target metrics can make you a better partner.
How can I convince marketers to take creative risks?
Lean on data and testing. If a risky idea tests well in small samples, use those results to build your case. Marketers are swayed most by numbers.
What do I do if a marketing decision fails?
Express your concerns, but focus the conversation on potential business impact. Speculate on how certain choices may decrease conversion rates, revenue, etc. Those risks will get a marketer's attention.
How much should I rely on my creative intuition vs. research and data?
It's a balancing act. Data should inform but not dictate creative direction. Flag when additional testing may be overkill. But also recognise that research provides valuable guidance.
What if my ideas keep getting shot down by marketers?
Ask for a clear explanation of their reasoning and the metrics they prioritise. Listen earnestly. Then, reframe your pitch to address their concerns or find data to support your case. Getting on the same page is critical.
Collaboration comes far more naturally when creatives genuinely try to understand the marketer's world. Bridging this typical divide requires consistent communication, mutual learning, and developing shared goals.