The creative process in marketing agencies is more of a daily discipline work than a stroke of inspiration, for this reason, it is not a simple matter because it must be worked and fine-tuned every day so that the results are regularly visible.
With this, we do not mean that creativity is not precisely important in the creative process, because it is since good ideas stand out in an original advertising campaign from another that is conventional. However, for that creativity to last over time, it must meet certain requirements that must be exercised like mental gymnastics every day.
We could even say that the creative process never rests if the mind is sufficiently stimulated to generate innovative ideas. Then, part of the discipline lies in being able to bring those ideas down to earth and capture them in some medium or communication platform so that they reach a wide audience.
The proposal for this article is to detail the role of the creative process in marketing agencies, its main components, the reasons why it should be standardized, and the benefits it brings to any project when creativity is supported by an integrated sequence of measurable steps that can be improved.
Characteristics and main functions of a creative process
The creative process begins with the preparation, which involves acquiring prior knowledge of customers you are going to deal with: what they do, how they work, what their strengths and weaknesses are, among other things. Obtaining this valuable information will allow you to gain learning and experience in the different customer profiles that you will have to assess to offer an attractive service delivery that meets their expectations.
The implementation of the creative process is carried out through design thinking and consists of several stages or steps to follow to achieve the objective of the process.
1. Investigate customer needs.
The first stage of the creative process is to develop an empathic understanding of the problem you need to solve to focus your marketing actions, through customer research.
It is of vital importance to know and understand the needs, expectations, and objectives of your customers, for which you have to observe and listen as much as possible to identify specific traits of their personality and emotions to offer a service according to their psychological profiles.
2. Choose needs and problems.
In this second stage, you store the information you have collected at the beginning of the process. From there you should start filtering information to define the problems or needs that have been detected. After stating the problem, you can start generating the first sketches of creative solutions.
3. Create ideas.
In this instance, it is worth "thinking outside the box", that is, proposing disruptive, fresh, original ideas to start working on potential solutions. We could say that this is the stage of greatest creative freedom in which all team members must collaborate by contributing their ideas.
4. Start working on possible solutions: prototype.
The prototype is when we begin to shape the idea that had the most consensus among the team. It does not represent the final idea that is going to be executed, but rather a test or sketch of what we would like to deliver to the customer. But before putting it into practice, we must subject it to rigorous scrutiny to establish whether or not it meets the requirements that can provide a solution to the customer's problem or need.
For each new prototype, work will be done on the analysis of its benefits and limitations, it will be accepted, improved, or rejected until the idea that meets all the requirements can be found.
5. Evaluate prototypes.
This last stage allows the potential user or customer to finally come into contact with the prototype. The results obtained from this interaction will be used to redefine the problems. You can then go back to earlier stages of the creative process to check that your team made the most appropriate selection. During this review, further modifications and improvements may be made to rule out random fixes.
Why should the creative process be standardized?
The creative content process can be time-consuming and every agency has a different approach. There is no single standardized method for producing content, and what one agency provides will be very different from another because of how they develop it.
However, diversity in creation has its advantages and disadvantages. In many cases, agencies can develop a creative process that inadvertently creates problems, leading to a poor product. Other times they may not have their creative process standardized and seek to generate good campaigns from scratch, without prior knowledge of potential customers or the target audience.
Consequently, many companies never clearly define their creative process or use an undocumented process. This is a common mistake, but once the steps are documented, then the results can refine your process, as you will see what works and what doesn't. You will also be able to make sure that your scheme is maintained.
You will see that although each agency is different, there are general schemes for most of the creative processes. The name or the number of steps may vary, but they have in common that all of them must previously investigate potential customers, get to know them well, and based on the information collected, identify needs.
In response to these, the first outlines of solutions must be generated through brainstorming, selecting the best ones, elaborating the prototypes, and subjecting them to constant analysis, evaluation and revisions. This is roughly how the creative process works. The creative and original base is there, but it should not control the discipline provided by the structural process to make it possible for ideas to materialize and not disappear along the way.
Advantages that the creative process brings to marketing agencies
We have observed so far that the creative process aims to generate an attractive product for customers, innovative content, salable, and according to their needs. But to reach this goal, the process must be duly standardized by well-defined sequences of tasks. Only then can we appreciate the true advantages.
1. Get ideas organized.
Having a standardized creative process allows you to organize the brainstorming that would otherwise remain disorganized. One of the most obvious aspects of the imagination is that it has no limits, but for the same reason, it is usually unstable, so that, without a formal process that gives concrete form to an idea, it will never end up being objectively reflected.
2. It allows a more rigorous analysis of the information that will be useful in achieving the objectives.
To generate important ideas, it is necessary to constantly investigate and stimulate the intellect and the senses, otherwise, there will be more chances of developing creative blocks.
These blockages can have two main causes: one is the one we mentioned, that is, having insufficient information or doing little research; the other is the lack of a standardized process that regulates that information and gives it a safer idea on which to work to achieve the stated objective.
As long as we investigate, we will have material to start creating and developing countless possibilities.
3. Generate more accurate and scalable results over time.
The standardized creative process helps measure all the data generated, favoring the obtaining of more effective results that are compatible with the expectations of the customers. In addition, it allows you to measure and control the time of work and delivery to avoid delays that cause friction between the agency and its clients.
4. Promotes improvements and revisions of the generated idea.
The same process also allows you to improve and give a twist to what you've been working on so that the product is as perfect as possible in the eyes of the customer. You can even retrace the steps and correct errors during the last stage of review and evaluation of the defined proposal to go live.
In final words, the creative process is how we give real shape to our ability to create and generate ideas. When creativity arises, the process is like the mold that sculpts it so that the work shines before the customers that admire it.