Why is the role of creative director important to business development?
Carole and I had a great conversation the other day. Part of the conversation we discussed "Creative Directors" and what I see their function is in the world of business development consulting. Typically creative director is a title used in advertising agencies, but I think it could be even more usful when tied to a bigger picture like business development and sales growth. Here's how I see it playing out…
Let's start with what a Creative Director is. In the advertising and design world, the Creative Director is head of all things creative and design this often include managing designers and programmers and on some level delivering the strategy and planning of larger campaigns.
So let's look at what happens when you add design to a standard tool like the telephone. I'm old enough that I actually had a rotary dial phone. This is similar to a person without design training, but someone who can afford a computer and gets tools like powerpoint to design brochures, logos, websites and presentations. This is what they have access to so this is what they use.
Then there is the trained designer who went to school for design. They move up to the cordless phone. Remember these? How cool was it to be able to grab the phone and walk around the house or outside and continue the conversation. Cool right? Yeah, a trained designer brings the same cool factor. They are able to make a huge jump up and offer more flexibility like use professional grade tools to design your logo, brochure and website. Just like the cordless phone though, there are some limitations. Most designers do not understand business so although they can make beautiful designs, they struggle with building a strategic brand focused on building trust. Often times they have no idea about sales and so their marketing collateral is mostly about creating a strong professional image and less about business development. When we get into these conversations a designer starts dropping calls or loses charge.
Then we move on to the Sr. Designer. They are similar to a cell phone. They offer the the ability to go even further than a cordless phone as well as some new functionality. They usually have been around the block a few times and understand branding, they are good at building brand awareness. They even deliver some impressive marketing campaigns that are getting more strategic. Slowly but surely they are learning that Return On Investment (ROI) is all the CEO cares about. They add some new tricks like texting and games to bump up the skills they bring to the table.
Then we get to the Creative Director. These guys and girls are the smart phones of the world. They take everything the cell phone had and add calendars, music players, cameras, video cameras, GPS Mapping, alarm clocks, watches, notes and much much more to the game. A creative director understands branding and uses it to help with the business development process. A good creative director should understand business development and all designs are focused on ROI. Your best Creative Directors may also have sales training to understand where to deliver the marketing they create as well as who their most profitable customers are. This also allows them to speak "sales" with the sales team. This is actually like the jump from the iPhone 3 to the iPhone 5 adding Siri, more advanced touch screens, faster wifi, better maps, cloud storage and the like.
Ok so why am I sharing this with you? Adding a creative director helps you create a more strategic approach to your design. Whether you understand design or it's importance or not, you can certainly relate to the progression we took with phones. By no means would you trade your iPhone 5 in for a rotary dial phone, they just aren't the same. The service is completely different and they are so far apart, it is hard to imagine them as the same tools.
So you might be saying, well isn't hiring a creative director (internal or outsourced) expensive? To that I would say… Yes! But think of the cost between your monthly phone bill of past and your iPhone 5 bill. I remember having a phone bill around $40 a month, now I pay some $130 a month. Yes, this too is expensive, but it brings much more to the game than a simple phone did.
A skilled creative director delivers a few things that you may not have thought about:
- If they understand sales, they bring strategies for positioning the company from a visual and messaging standpoint as well as being able to tie this in with sale's positioning statements used on sales calls and meetings
- They understand marketing strategy and ROI so everything they shoot for should revolove around bringing money in, not just beauty
- They understand design and can mange designers and programers to get the best business development focused website or marketing collateral
- They save time by using years of experiences to deliver a quick turnaround on projects they work on
Although I would never call myself a "Creative Director" per se, I do step into this role from time to time. I do have the design background to help in this area, but often am looking at things much larger than design to hit sales growth for my clients. If you are looking for a great team you might want to add a strategy and persona person like Carole and a design, branding person like myself to your next project especially if they both speak "sales" (as we do) and are focused on ROI. If you'd like to have a conversation with one of us, just make a connection with Dale Berkebile or Carole Mohoney here. Thanks and happy branding!