542: 5 Ways to Drive Better Alignment Between Creative and Marketing w/ Alex Withers

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode we talk to Alex Withers, Chief Marketing Officer at inMotionNow.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/awithers/

A relationship with the right referral partner could be a game changer for any be to be company. So what if you could reverse engineer these relationships at a moment's notice, start a podcast, invite potential referral partners to be guests on your show and grow your referral network faster than ever? Learn more at sweet fish Mediacom. You're listening to the be to be growth show, a podcast dedicated to helping be to be executives achieve explosive growth. Whether you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. I'm James Carberry and I'm Jonathan Green. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to the be to be growth show. Today we are joined by Alex withers. Alex at the CMO At in motion now, Alex, welcome to the show. Good Morning. Is Great to be a gentleman. It's fantastic to have you on the show, Alex. I know that a little bit earlier you're having some some technical difficulties, trouble connecting to to the Internet. So I am glad that we have that. We've taken care of that. We're getting a chance to have you on the show. I am excited to talk about this idea that you can drive better alignment between creative and marketing and I want to get into that. But, Alex, before we do, maybe you can tell our listeners a little about what you and your team at in motion now are up to these days. Yeah, delighted to so. In motion now is a creative workflow software business for a cloud based software as a service products and platform, and our job is to better aligned marketing and creative teams with a seamless workflow. Now we're going to talk about and of the thought leaderships stuff around this morning around better aligning marketing and creative and but we spend our every day on creating and cloud based solutions. That about our marketers and creative teams to collaborate more efficiently, brief each other and project manage...

...and then review and approve each other's work and so that you can get content to market faster. And I, as a CMO, have the privilege of not only running a commercial business, but also I'm able to travel the country as a thought leader. There's a lot of fun being a market of a marketing software. This morning I'm in Mattel's headquarters in New York for the Exchange Design Forum, which is about forty top creative directors in the industry all talking about how to get better aligned with marketing and how to make creative have a stronger seat of the strategic table. So it's going to be a great deal here day here at Mattel and looking forward to talking with you this morning. That's fantastic. Well, and I do really appreciate then even more so you were carving a little time out of your schedule today to be with us here on the BB grow Shell. So, Alex, we are going to be talking about how to drive better alignment between creative and marketing, but maybe you just to sort of set the stage. Let's let's talk briefly about okay, what is what is the difference? What we're talking about creative versus marketing, you know, sort of what are those two worlds that we're talking about today? Yeah, so I've been a market of my whole career. I started out of Pepsi and in London and then moved into the media world and then more recently into the software world, but I've always had a marketing bent to my career. I would consider myself creative. None of my creative friends would consider me creative. Markets are marketers are at the business end of the creative process. Their job is to drive demand and drive revenue through marketing programs. The creatives obviously live at the creative end of that value chain. Their job is to ideate and come up with compelling messaging and and compelling campaigns and and creative assets that will feel those marketing programs. So they're very closely aligned and...

...in terms of their position in the go to market machine. But they are becoming increasingly strained. And you know, if you think about the relationship, how many white papers are written about the ongoing battle between marketing and sales. From a DNA perspective, marketers and creators are always being on the same team together, but that there is more friction than there's ever been between this once strong relationship, and that's why it's a fun topic to talk about today. Yeah, that's absolutely true. I mean that you have so many people talking about the alignment between sales and marketing and there is more and more overlap between those two positions. I mean, they are becoming increasingly aligned and no one is talking about this possible divide between creative and marketing. I mean it all, all, I would say. When you're thinking about the two, I would have naturally assumed well, you know, creative and marketing, they are just they are aligned. That's that's part of the same GIG, right there. So interesting to hear that you know there is an increasing divide. One of the points that we were going to make today, that you were going to make today, is that creatives and marketers are often speaking different languages. What does that mean? Well, so that the creative team has a different suite of tools. They see things differently. I'll tell you. The big theme at this this conference today and this creative leadership workshop and round table is all around design thinking and the power of strong design and creativity. And the whole notion of design thinking is very different to our alloy driven metrics, drive earned marketing, automation powered marketing programs and there's a very kind of purest artistic or artiste angle to to creative and there is much more of a business focus...

...in marketing. So just the literally the language used right, my marketing teams will use language like you know, Demand Generation Marketing, qualifying leads at Chern nurture programs all and very sort of metrics driven, funnel driven and language, whereas the design teams will use entirely different languages around design, think and messaging and color palettes and creative terminology, and it's just a very different world between the two. And it's kind of where art meets science and quite often art and science are like oil and water and they don't mix well. And so it there's definitely a disconnect that has to be bridged with sort of a healthy respect for one another, because one can't function without the other. Yeah, and talking about art versus science, boil and water. I mean that does kind of lead US nicely into the second point that you had made offline, that creativity is not a science, but that still needs to fit into a business this framework. I think we all have, you know, very creative friends that we can picture and they just, you know, they don't necessarily play by the same rules and and they are the know they're their main goal is to, you know, exercise their creative process, to realize their vision. But it has to when you're talking about the world of business, creativity in the world of business, you know, it has to function in that world. So kind of what does that look like? Alex? Yes, I mean we we often talk about the challenge of staying creative and a corporate world right and and creatives choose whether they want to be in house right that they want to be an inhouse team in a corporate environment and be creative,...

...or are they going to be more on the agency side? If you're joining the corporate world and you've got to figure out how to create an environment of ideation and creativity that lives within a corporate process, and if you can create and processes that make your life easier as a creative, that remove some of the administer via of the corporate world and start to automate it, that's how you're able to stay creative and yet still meet the service level agreements you have with your corporate partners like marketing and sales. So it's very important to have a streamline process that has clear service level agreements and clear expectations and then go away and by by yourself that that bandwidth and that ideation time to be the best you can be. Knowing that you are you know exactly what to do in terms of managing the brief, managing the project and and getting the approvals to get stuff out the door. And so, Alex, just I'm you know, I'm trying to conceptualize what that kind of would look like in practice and I don't want to put you on the spot, but I mean you have kind of an example of some sort of situation, something that that would look like in real life. Yeah, I mean it's a great example. Would Be, you know, the creative team is receiving briefs constantly from their internal stakeholders and often a creative team isn't just sort of partnering with the Marketing Group, they're also partnering with the Executive Office. The see. How often does the CEOS suddenly needs something and that doesn't come straight from through the marketing team? How often do sales go around the process and ask for something directly and it could be from the water cooler? Right, seemo's just chatting with a creative director. Hey, would you mind putting this fly together for me, because we're doing a charity event tonight and very important events, but that...

...doesn't follow a process and now that can unravel all of the deadlines and Transparency Around other deliverables within the building and whereas if you can create a known repeatable, scalable production process in how things are briefed, making sure that briefs are always sent through the system and approved in the right way, the projects are transparently managed and resources allocated, and that reviews and approvals don't happen over the water cooler, they happen in an accountable review environment. Now you've got an accountable, auditable creative process and how the creative team can partner with the organization, and that then gives the organization easier ability to brief the team. It gives the organization more transparency even to what stage of their projects at. They don't have to constantly chase the creatives going, where are you with my email campaign? So having that, that connection and process between the internal stakeholder and the creative team is really important and hopefully that gives you some might just some some simple examples of how that ugly head rise itself when when things are very ad hoc and on the fly without a process. Yeah, absolutely, and and they think there's some overlap even even here with another point that you're going to be making on the show today is that sometimes, you know, when you have these additional projects are heaped on, especially by people, executives. Maybe outside of marketing. Marketing doesn't always see or appreciate how much work is piled on creative. So what do both sides need to do then to keep that alignment, to keep, you know, to that marketing, as aware and creative, doesn't feel overwhelmed? Yeah, I mean it's a really important...

...point. It's I think maybe it might help to take a quick step back and look at the industry challenge that's fueling this, this this problem. Right, in the last ten years in the marketing and sales motion or the good market machine, you've had a data revolution. Right. You've got more data, which is allowing more personalized targeting and more campaigns. The marketing and sales team have got CRM systems, they've got sales automation with products like sales force. You've got marketing automation with products like Pardo and Marquetto and ela quo and hub spot, and then you've got channel proliferation. You know, back in the day when I was at the Financial Times, our communications program would be radio ADS, TV spots and outdoor posters right, and Printin adds. Now it's all these social channels, digital retargeting, Google ad words, being constant change, AV testing. All of those things combined has created this what I referred to as kind of this Bethree Challenge, which is volume, velocity and variety of content. When you've got that kind of V three pressure on the creative team, it means that they are overwhelmed and, by the way, they're not getting more resources. Right, and creative teams the I remember when I was working with one of my ctos in a previous life. Easy to say to me, you know you can, you've got budget time and scope. In the marketing dynamic it's budget time and resources. Well, great of teams aren't getting given more budget. They certainly are being asked to producings more quickly, not slow more slowly, and they're not getting more head count. So if all three are not moving, you've got to change the paradigm. Right, you got to shift things and and so that alignment, that efficiency that has to be gained between marketing and creative is really important. Otherwise we can't meet the challenge of this new agile, fast paced go to market machine...

...without hyper efficiency, because we're not getting given more yeah, and not only that, but sort of an I'm skipping around a little bit on some of the points that you're going to make, but that that that feels like it's also part of this idea that it's not uncommon for the approval of a project to you even take longer than the project itself. Yeah, that's right. I mean, you know, how often do you create a piece of work as a creative team and then it gets email to somebody, they give feedback, then it gets emailed to somebody else? Do you email them simultaneously and do you a email them in order? Does the second person see the first person's comments? And if I, as the CMO, receive an asset that I need to approve, how do I know who's already commented on it? And am I contradicting someone else in my team? Have I thought about everything they thought about? And so it just slows the whole approval and review process to a grinding halt and as opposed to routing work efficiently right it goes tier one, tier two, tier three and making sure that the comments are always saved along the way, making sure this transparency in the review so you can collaborate real time, get consensus and get product and content out of the door. And that's the most important thing. There's nothing worse than creating a great program and then it gets stuck in the approval process for weeks before the before you can make money on it, because you're not going to make revenue from that creative asset until it's out in the market. So you know, efficient review and approval processes enabled by technology and is a huge piece of improving the efficiency of the go to market machine. In fact, we see just from our customers, eighty five percent shorter project life cycles, seventy six percent fast...

...time to approvals, and these are these are not insignificant efficiency gains. That allows the creative team to stay creative, to have the time they need to be market beating in their creativity, and it also allows you to retain talent. There's nothing worse than a partnership that is full of friction, whereas if you've got this streamline process, people are able to be the best they can be and as a result, you often are able to attain your best talent. And so you know streamlining the the approval process is definitely part of it. Kind of Alex, your fifth and final point that businesses need to invest in technology that streamlines the creative process. So you certainly have this idea of streamlining the approval process. Is there? Is there anything else? Are there any other investments that you can think of and share with our listeners when it comes to investing in the creative side? Yeah, I mean we so we refer to it as and the market starting to study jump on the bandwagon of creative workflow. If you think about, I mentioned earlier, the the speed that sales and marketing now has with crm and marketing automation tools, will the creative workflow tool, and we're not talking about the creative production process. It is things like the adobe suite. Adobe is a terrific organization with a great platform. That's how the creative teams produce their work. But if you can streamline the workflow, this going back and forth between the marketer or the internal client and the creative you will create the velocity through the system as needed to keep up. What does that mean? It means having repeatable, easy and briefing processes. It means having lightweight project management. Right the go to market machine does not require the project management complexity that say large it projects require.

It needs traffic coordination, it needs simple resource allocation and it just literally needs to flow. So how do you get speed in your workflow, from brief to management to review an approval? And there the three core pillars that we talk about in bridging marketing and creative and getting them align the campaigns can be more successful. That's fantastic, Alex. you you obviously know exactly what you're talking about. I'm not surprised. They've got you traveling all over the world talking about this kind of stuff. So I do absolutely appreciate you sharing that that wisdom with our listeners. If any of our listeners are interested in learning a little bit more about today's topic or they want to connect with you, they want to find out more about in motion now, what's the best way for them to go about doing that? Yeah, so we yea our company website is in motion nowcom as in motion and all one word and now in motion nowcom and there's a couple things on there. There's obviously resources around our product and we'd be delighted to work with any of your listeners, but there's also a lot of thought leadership and best practices on there too. We are very proud that we're a thought leader in this market. And traveling around today in New York City Ready and spreading the Gospel as opposed to selling hard, and we do. We do take pride in the fact that we're a thought leader. So there's a lot of webinars that ebooks and blogs and customer success stories on their where boats can can learn how to be better and we be delighted to work with them in the process. Fantastic, Alex. thank you again so much. It was really a pleasure having on the show today. Thanks, Jonathan, and best of luck to the show, and it's been a pleasure. If you're a BEDB marketer, we want to feature you on sites like Huffington Post, social media examiner and chief marketer. Every week we send out a question related to be to be marketing. We use the responses...

...to those questions to fuel the content we rate for really popular websites. To head over to sweet fish MEDIACOM backslash questions and sign up today. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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