Lisa Nirell's Marketing Waves Blog

3 Costly Creative Workflow Traps for CMOs to Avoid

Enjoy this post from our April guest blogger, Alex Withers. He’s the CMO of InMotionNow.

Creative Workflow

It’s no surprise that in 2017, top CMOs are making content strategy and creative workflow a high priority. 85% of marketers surveyed reported that “producing higher quality content more efficiently” was the top factor to their increased success last year, according to the Content Marketing Institute. In addition, 95% of marketers say optimizing creative workflow is important to creating the ideal customer experience this year. Avoiding costly creative workflow traps is essential to achieve these goals.

First, let’s provide a quick definition. Creative workflow is the process by which the assets that fuel your team’s campaigns are produced. The different stages of creative workflow might involve multiple teams across your organization, from marketing and in-house creative to external agency or freelance partners. Optimizing creative workflow is necessary to streamline content deployment across multiple platforms.

Video: How Megan the Marketing Leader led her team to success by  optimizing their creative workflow process.

Creative workflow

inMotion for Marketing Leaders

Marketing leaders who ignore creative workflow optimization, or give it short shrift, will likely fail to meet the volume, variety, and velocity of creative content demands from stakeholders. Here’s the potential impact:

 1. Lengthy project timelines due to inefficient project kickoffs.

Like many organizations, the creative team at the New York Public Library didn’t have a process for strategically accepting new work from their internal marketing clients at the beginning of their workflow. As a result, they struggled to align on realistic timelines, consistently meet project objectives, and stay ahead of increasing content demands.

“When I first got to New York Public Library three years ago, there was absolutely no strategic intake,” says Rachael Silva, director of creative services. “The workflow was literally a form that would get faxed over, saying something like ‘I need a brochure. The deadline is x.’”

Since Silva and her team often lacked basic background on the purpose of new projects and the intended outcomes, they found themselves forced to spend precious time clarifying information or struggling to create realistic timelines.

“Often, when someone submitted a request, we’d have to hunt down the requestor, and perhaps set up a kick-off meeting for something very basic.” Silva and her team needed a more efficient way to kick off new projects to stop wasting valuable marketing time on back-and-forth clarification with creative and stay ahead of growing content demands.

  1. Wasted management resources due to multiple workflows across many projects.

Without a consistent, established creative workflow process, status updates and asset tracking across many different ongoing projects became a huge energy and budget drain at RBO Printlogistix, a printing technology company based in St. Louis, MO. Time to market across the board suffered as a result. “One of our biggest challenges was finding a workflow process that would accommodate different creative and technical needs across multiple systems,” explains Scott Heinemeier, Director of Technology. “It simply didn’t make sense for us to use a different process for each project.”

Heinemeier and his team were often forced to extract project information from five or six different places. The inconsistency created even further expense and frustration.

“I inherited a situation where there was no documentation, and it was painful. We often found ourselves recreating the wheel, which was a terrible waste of time.”

  1. Slow time to market due to manual proof routing and reviews.

While leading the in-house creative agency at a CarMax, Advertising Operations Director Debbie Kennedy says her team used to route content to reviewers manually, creating multiple process inefficiencies. Clarifying what reviewers to involve for each new project was an unnecessary time-suck.  Proofs getting lost or stalled out with reviewers created bottlenecks and delays. And longer or more-than-necessary rounds of review resulted in pushed or even missed deadlines.

“We had an internal agency that was responsible for all print, store design, collateral, digital, internal communications, CRM, and automated marketing across 35 internal clients,” says Kennedy. “They managed products across multiple channels—so the approval process was already complex. When we saw an increase in requests for content, we began experiencing a higher than normal amount of missed deadlines and poor quality output. We didn’t have a standard form of communication for my team or clients, so even simple projects could turn into a time warp. Often, the time it took to route a proof was longer than the actual review time. It was nearly impossible to manage, and delayed our time to market.”

Improving workflow for your marketing and creative teams will enable them to stay one step ahead of the volume, variety, and velocity of content demands. This translates into more campaigns, faster time to market, or more successful results. Don’t let these bad things happen to your good marketers and creatives. Make workflow efficiency a strategic priority in 2017.

Guest blogger Alex Withers is the Chief Marketing Officer of inMotionNow, a leading provider of workflow management solutions for marketing and creative teams. A seasoned digital technology and marketing executive, Alex has more than 20 years’ experience leading marketing and creative teams at brands including Pepsi, ESPN, the Financial Times, and LexisNexis. 

To learn how CMOs can help their teams achieve up to 76% faster time to approval and accelerate content delivery times, visit

 Full disclosure: InMotionNow is an EnergizeGrowth® client.

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