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 partnercould be a game changer for any be to be company. So what ifyou 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 networkfaster than ever? Learn more at sweet fish Mediacom. You're listening to thebe to be growth show, a podcast dedicated to helping be to be executivesachieve 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 growthshow. Today we are joined by Alex withers. Alex at the CMO Atin motion now, Alex, welcome to the show. Good Morning. IsGreat 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 havethat. We've taken care of that. We're getting a chance to have youon the show. I am excited to talk about this idea that you candrive better alignment between creative and marketing and I want to get into that.But, Alex, before we do, maybe you can tell our listeners alittle about what you and your team at in motion now are up to thesedays. Yeah, delighted to so. In motion now is a creative workflowsoftware business for a cloud based software as a service products and platform, andour 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 morningaround better aligning marketing and creative and but we spend our every day on creatingand cloud based solutions. That about our marketers and creative teams to collaborate moreefficiently, brief each other and project manage...

...and then review and approve each other'swork 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 alot of fun being a market of a marketing software. This morning I'm inMattel's headquarters in New York for the Exchange Design Forum, which is about fortytop creative directors in the industry all talking about how to get better aligned withmarketing 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 lookingforward to talking with you this morning. That's fantastic. Well, and Ido really appreciate then even more so you were carving a little time out ofyour 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 alignmentbetween 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 arethose two worlds that we're talking about today? Yeah, so I've been a marketof my whole career. I started out of Pepsi and in London andthen 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 myselfcreative. None of my creative friends would consider me creative. Markets are marketersare at the business end of the creative process. Their job is to drivedemand and drive revenue through marketing programs. The creatives obviously live at the creativeend of that value chain. Their job is to ideate and come up withcompelling messaging and and compelling campaigns and and creative assets that will feel those marketingprograms. So they're very closely aligned and...

...in terms of their position in thego to market machine. But they are becoming increasingly strained. And you know, if you think about the relationship, how many white papers are written aboutthe ongoing battle between marketing and sales. From a DNA perspective, marketers andcreators are always being on the same team together, but that there is morefriction than there's ever been between this once strong relationship, and that's why it'sa fun topic to talk about today. Yeah, that's absolutely true. Imean that you have so many people talking about the alignment between sales and marketingand 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 betweencreative and marketing. I mean it all, all, I would say. Whenyou're thinking about the two, I would have naturally assumed well, youknow, creative and marketing, they are just they are aligned. That's that'spart of the same GIG, right there. So interesting to hear that you knowthere is an increasing divide. One of the points that we were goingto make today, that you were going to make today, is that creativesand marketers are often speaking different languages. What does that mean? Well,so that the creative team has a different suite of tools. They see thingsdifferently. I'll tell you. The big theme at this this conference today andthis creative leadership workshop and round table is all around design thinking and the powerof strong design and creativity. And the whole notion of design thinking is verydifferent to our alloy driven metrics, drive earned marketing, automation powered marketing programsand there's a very kind of purest artistic or artiste angle to to creative andthere is much more of a business focus...

...in marketing. So just the literallythe 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 ofmetrics driven, funnel driven and language, whereas the design teams will use entirelydifferent 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 ofwhere art meets science and quite often art and science are like oil and waterand they don't mix well. And so it there's definitely a disconnect that hasto be bridged with sort of a healthy respect for one another, because onecan'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 thesecond 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 weall have, you know, very creative friends that we can picture and theyjust, you know, they don't necessarily play by the same rules and andthey are the know they're their main goal is to, you know, exercisetheir creative process, to realize their vision. But it has to when you're talkingabout the world of business, creativity in the world of business, youknow, it has to function in that world. So kind of what doesthat look like? Alex? Yes, I mean we we often talk aboutthe challenge of staying creative and a corporate world right and and creatives choose whetherthey want to be in house right that they want to be an inhouse teamin a corporate environment and be creative,...

...or are they going to be moreon the agency side? If you're joining the corporate world and you've got tofigure out how to create an environment of ideation and creativity that lives within acorporate process, and if you can create and processes that make your life easieras a creative, that remove some of the administer via of the corporate worldand start to automate it, that's how you're able to stay creative and yetstill meet the service level agreements you have with your corporate partners like marketing andsales. So it's very important to have a streamline process that has clear servicelevel agreements and clear expectations and then go away and by by yourself that thatbandwidth and that ideation time to be the best you can be. Knowing thatyou 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 whatthat kind of would look like in practice and I don't want to put youon the spot, but I mean you have kind of an example of somesort of situation, something that that would look like in real life. Yeah, I mean it's a great example. Would Be, you know, thecreative team is receiving briefs constantly from their internal stakeholders and often a creative teamisn't just sort of partnering with the Marketing Group, they're also partnering with theExecutive Office. The see. How often does the CEOS suddenly needs something andthat doesn't come straight from through the marketing team? How often do sales goaround the process and ask for something directly and it could be from the watercooler? Right, seemo's just chatting with a creative director. Hey, wouldyou mind putting this fly together for me, because we're doing a charity event tonightand very important events, but that...

...doesn't follow a process and now thatcan unravel all of the deadlines and Transparency Around other deliverables within the building andwhereas if you can create a known repeatable, scalable production process in how things arebriefed, making sure that briefs are always sent through the system and approvedin the right way, the projects are transparently managed and resources allocated, andthat reviews and approvals don't happen over the water cooler, they happen in anaccountable review environment. Now you've got an accountable, auditable creative process and howthe creative team can partner with the organization, and that then gives the organization easierability to brief the team. It gives the organization more transparency even towhat stage of their projects at. They don't have to constantly chase the creativesgoing, where are you with my email campaign? So having that, thatconnection and process between the internal stakeholder and the creative team is really important andhopefully that gives you some might just some some simple examples of how that uglyhead rise itself when when things are very ad hoc and on the fly withouta process. Yeah, absolutely, and and they think there's some overlap eveneven here with another point that you're going to be making on the show todayis that sometimes, you know, when you have these additional projects are heapedon, especially by people, executives. Maybe outside of marketing. Marketing doesn'talways see or appreciate how much work is piled on creative. So what doboth sides need to do then to keep that alignment, to keep, youknow, 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 itmight help to take a quick step back and look at the industry challenge that'sfueling this, this this problem. Right, in the last ten years in themarketing and sales motion or the good market machine, you've had a datarevolution. Right. You've got more data, which is allowing more personalized targeting andmore campaigns. The marketing and sales team have got CRM systems, they'vegot sales automation with products like sales force. You've got marketing automation with products likePardo and Marquetto and ela quo and hub spot, and then you've gotchannel proliferation. You know, back in the day when I was at theFinancial Times, our communications program would be radio ADS, TV spots and outdoorposters right, and Printin adds. Now it's all these social channels, digitalretargeting, Google ad words, being constant change, AV testing. All ofthose things combined has created this what I referred to as kind of this BethreeChallenge, which is volume, velocity and variety of content. When you've gotthat kind of V three pressure on the creative team, it means that theyare 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 myctos in a previous life. Easy to say to me, you know youcan, you've got budget time and scope. In the marketing dynamic it's budget timeand 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 thingsand and so that alignment, that efficiency that has to be gained between marketingand creative is really important. Otherwise we can't meet the challenge of this newagile, fast paced go to market machine...

...without hyper efficiency, because we're notgetting given more yeah, and not only that, but sort of an I'mskipping 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'snot uncommon for the approval of a project to you even take longer than theproject itself. Yeah, that's right. I mean, you know, howoften do you create a piece of work as a creative team and then itgets 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 doI know who's already commented on it? And am I contradicting someone else inmy team? Have I thought about everything they thought about? And so itjust slows the whole approval and review process to a grinding halt and as opposedto routing work efficiently right it goes tier one, tier two, tier threeand making sure that the comments are always saved along the way, making surethis transparency in the review so you can collaborate real time, get consensus andget 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 inthe 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 inthe market. So you know, efficient review and approval processes enabled by technologyand 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 shorterproject life cycles, seventy six percent fast...

...time to approvals, and these arethese 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 thatis full of friction, whereas if you've got this streamline process, peopleare able to be the best they can be and as a result, youoften are able to attain your best talent. And so you know streamlining the theapproval process is definitely part of it. Kind of Alex, your fifth andfinal 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 thinkof 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 marketstarting 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 withcrm and marketing automation tools, will the creative workflow tool, and we're nottalking 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 teamsproduce their work. But if you can streamline the workflow, this going backand forth between the marketer or the internal client and the creative you will createthe velocity through the system as needed to keep up. What does that mean? It means having repeatable, easy and briefing processes. It means having lightweightproject management. Right the go to market machine does not require the project managementcomplexity that say large it projects require.

It needs traffic coordination, it needssimple resource allocation and it just literally needs to flow. So how do youget 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 creativeand 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. Ifany of our listeners are interested in learning a little bit more about today's topicor they want to connect with you, they want to find out more aboutin 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 inmotion and all one word and now in motion nowcom and there's a couple thingson there. There's obviously resources around our product and we'd be delighted to workwith any of your listeners, but there's also a lot of thought leadership andbest practices on there too. We are very proud that we're a thought leaderin this market. And traveling around today in New York City Ready and spreadingthe Gospel as opposed to selling hard, and we do. We do takepride in the fact that we're a thought leader. So there's a lot ofwebinars that ebooks and blogs and customer success stories on their where boats can canlearn how to be better and we be delighted to work with them in theprocess. Fantastic, Alex. thank you again so much. It was reallya pleasure having on the show today. Thanks, Jonathan, and best ofluck to the show, and it's been a pleasure. If you're a BEDBmarketer, we want to feature you on sites like Huffington Post, social mediaexaminer and chief marketer. Every week we send out a question related to beto be marketing. We use the responses...

...to those questions to fuel the contentwe rate for really popular websites. To head over to sweet fish MEDIACOM backslashquestions and sign up today. Thank you so much for listening. Until nexttime,.

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