How marketing teams can rediscover creativity in a hybrid landscape

How marketing teams can rediscover creativity in a hybrid landscape

Over the past few years, organisations have been tasked with keeping up with evolving customer demands while maintaining business continuity in times of significant change. And the amount of change we’ve had to endure in such a short amount of time is not to be overlooked. We have become much more agile, quick thinkers. While positive in many regards, it’s impacting marketing in an interesting way.

Recently, rumours have been circling of a 'creativity crisis' across the marketing landscape. Why, you might ask. With many businesses forced to concentrate solely on survival, followed by recovery, marketers are working faster than ever. As a result, campaigns have moved from a left brain/right brain balance to a more left-brain approach, which tends to be literal and objective versus thoughtful and subjective. This is meant to capture folks with shorter attention spans as things continue to move quickly; however, creativity is suffering because of it. The bottom line is, marketers are struggling to come together in a constructive way that results in deep, thoughtful campaigns. Instead, they have gotten so used to making fast decisions remotely in order to keep a business afloat.

For many, creativity begins with observation. But what makes an idea take off is when individuals with different backgrounds and perspectives get together, pick apart that observation to generate something new, and then develop it into a concept.

In the old office-based days, these interactions either happened organically or in organised brainstorm sessions. Then, throughout a project’s lifecycle, in-person catch-ups and ad-hoc comments encouraged new avenues to explore and different routes to market. However, with hybrid work here to stay for many, how can marketers replicate – and improve on – the creativity levels of the past?

A creativity challenge

Although marketing has traditionally been ahead of the curve when it comes to flexible working policies, the industry was far from unscathed by the widespread call for remote work. Campaigns needed to be bigger and bolder in order to connect with a digital audience and yet the remote environment in which many teams found themselves working was far from conducive to achieving this goal.

After all, when we work separately – especially when individuals in creative industries work at home – several of the raw ingredients for team creativity are lacking. The most important of these ingredients is the ability to collaborate and bounce off each other in the same way as we would in an office setting – with no friction and in real time, both at the concept stage and throughout an entire project.

In fact, research from Leesman found that almost a third (28%) of homeworkers admitted they were unable to collaborate on creative work whilst at home.

Despite these challenges, the future is still very much hybrid, with 80% of marketers stating this way of working is important to them. Businesses that fail to offer this as an option will miss out on being able to attract and retain the best minds in the industry. Therefore, marketing leaders need to ensure that they are enabling their teams to communicate and collaborate effectively and on a deeper level, regardless of where they choose to log on from. It is only then that both individual and team creativity can be nurtured.

Collaboration is key

During a marketing campaign or project, creativity should never stop. In every phase, there are potential improvements to make and lessons to learn. This is why consistent collaboration and clear communication have never been more important. Whilst chat platforms and video conferencing tools have traditionally been relied upon to bridge the gap between office and home, solely using these technologies can have the opposite effect, making collaboration more challenging. This is because they decrease visibility across teams and provide no single source of truth, making it impossible to keep track of projects. They are also distracting and focused on synchronous work, pulling us away from deep work that develops into meaningful campaigns.

This is where collaborative work management (CWM) technology comes into its own. These platforms enable real-time cross-functional collaboration and increased visibility by bringing all teams – from Marketing to HR to IT to Sales – together in one place.

In doing so, marketers can better understand customer challenges from the CSO and prospect challenges from sales and work together on campaigns that don’t just grab someone’s attention for two seconds but actually move the needle.

These campaigns can be ideated, created, and managed all within CWM platforms. Request forms can be leveraged to ensure all required stakeholders know how their piece fits into the larger puzzle; in-platform proofing and approvals allows marketers to account for asset changes without running into version control issues; and automated workflows move work from one stage to the next. By automating work and eliminating risks, more time is freed up for creative, purposeful work. And being able to see exactly where a project stands and how it is performing, as well as having the ability to instantly connect with other team members who have access to the same information, will encourage creative thinking from start to finish.

In today’s competitive landscape, creativity from a marketing standpoint could be what sets a business apart. With hybrid work here to stay, it’s more important than ever for marketing leaders to set their teams up for success and invest in the collaborative strategies and tools that will enable them to be creative together regardless of where they choose to work from.