3 Ways to Save in the Creative Process

If your organization is like many others out there, you need to make the most of your time and your marketing budget. These days it’s all about doing more with less. Here are a few of the easiest ways to save time and money throughout the creative process.

1. Allow Proper Timing: Plan Ahead

Nothing sucks effectiveness out of a project like not having enough time to get it done well. Getting a truly effective, creative solution and well-thought out end product is a process of research and exploration and does take an investment of time. By allowing adequate time for market research and creative development, you’ll end up with far more effective and creative projects.

With adequate timelines, your possibilities are far more open and budget friendly. Short cutting this process dramatically impacts the research and creative exploration process and consequently your end product suffers. With tight timelines, your project is limited to what can be accomplished in the limited time allowed. Planning ahead will result in you getting more impact and value out of the creative process – better results for your investment.

How far in advance should you be planning? Our recommendation is two quarters in advance. By planning up to two quarters out will allow everyone involved (including yourself) plenty of time to do the job well and allows time to avoid or correct any of the hiccups or issues that can arise during the process. It also allows you to budget more effectively by defraying your budget over a longer period – easing cashflow.

At two quarters out, you should be in then beginning your planning stages and marketing research phases. This will allow you an effective platform to use as a foundation for your creative project(s). Use the next quarter to develop the creative projects, put them into production, as well as any launch campaigns and support collateral. The product or services is then launched the following quarter and the all of the creative projects are implemented.

If that seems out of reach for you, try planning a minimum of one quarter in advance. This will be a tighter timeline for all of the phases of the creative process, but it is feasible to do. The best way to get thinking and planning in advance it to look at your organization’s calendar for the next year. Jot down significant events, trade shows, seasonal promotion events, etc. and plan backwards from there.

By planning ahead, you can save money on materials, possible rush fees, the possibility of costly errors, misprints, you can make sure that the projects are effective, and you can achieve a higher quality end product overall.

2. Complete a Creative Brief

Filling out a creative brief is the best way to provide your agency with a detailed outline as well as determine the goals and objectives for each of your projects. Each project has it’s own unique goals and objectives and should begin with a creative brief — no matter how small it is. Be sure not to skip this important, foundational step of each of your projects. By outlining goals and objectives for the project, the brief helps to reduce subjectivity and makes the creative process more smooth, objective, effectual, and efficient.

A creative brief may seem like homework, but it will be time well invested. Most agencies will meet with or talk with you about the information needed for the creative brief and may even fill it out for you – needing only your review and possibly further comments. If your agency has not mentioned a creative brief, request one or find an agency that uses them.

Be sure to give as much thought, information and detail as possible on your brief. The more information you provide up front, the more informed your agency will be from the get go about what you want to achieve with the end product. This can save you time (therefore money), added hassle, and will allow you to make better decisions and selections throughout the process. By giving your agency a clear vision as to what the project should achieve, they will have the understanding needed to make your project more effective as well as incorporate higher levels of creativity in your projects.

After filling out the creative brief and when reviewing your project, keep your focus on how effective it is at achieving the goals as outlined in the brief — keep it objective. Subjectivity can lead to more back and forth with your agency, more changes, added time, cost, and a less effective end product. By incorporating a brief and making objective decisions about your creative projects, you will end up with a better, more effective end product every time.

3. Minimize Your Revisions

Revisions can be budget and timeline busters. No matter how fast or affordable your agency’s rates are, the more revisions you submit on a job, the longer it will take to complete and the more it will end up costing. This can result in surprises for you as well as additional agency man-hours on your projects when you get your invoice. Conversely, the fewer rounds of revisions you submit, the more you will save in cost and time and the fewer surprises you will have on your invoice.

Typically, agencies include up to two rounds of revisions in their project estimates. If you go over that number, you’ve most likely incurred additional cost and lengthened your project timeline. Keep in mind with regard to revisions is that for each individual revision you submit on a project, you potentially add .5-1.5 days to your project’s timeline.

You will save yourself money and time if you’re able to keep your revisions within those included in your agency’s project estimate. This may take some creative thinking, planning and organization on your end — especially if you have more multiple decision makers involved in your project(s) — but taking the time to develop an efficient and effective project review and approval process for your organization will result in smoother projects and quicker turn-around times from your agency. You’ll be glad you did it.

Don’t feel like you need to get back with your agency immediately with your revisions. You will save time and money if you invest some time in reviewing your projects carefully and thoroughly with each revision. Take the appropriate amount of time you need to allow everyone on your team a thorough, thoughtful review your project proof – submitting all of your changes at one time. Look at your proof(s) closely for possible spelling, grammatical and graphical omissions or errors. As careful as your agency may be to review your project internally and provide you with as correct a proof as possible, due to the human factor, there may still be typos, oversights or omissions in your project.

By incorporating one or more of these tips into your process, you’ll save not only time and money, but you’ll find that the process goes much smoother and you’ll end up getting a more effective, better end product from your agency.