Over the past month, I've had the pleasure of speaking to many dozens of corporate creative leaders about the importance of being able to quantify an internal creative group's value-add to the organization as a whole. We recently organized and moderated a CreativeExecs Roundtable series that included face-to-face discussions between twenty-one participating corporations, to talk about just that topic. Additionally, we've held dozens of conversations with other companies who have been interested in talking about the same topic.
What has been re-affirmed for us is that for most of our network of creative leaders, the most consistent challenge in this area lies in determining "what to quantify" as a value-add, as opposed to "how to quantify" the value-add. It is important to pick just a few areas of value, and really focus on driving them home with your internal clients. So which value-adds does your creative team offer that you should aggressively promote to your company? That is certainly a much larger conversation to be had, but as a nice "starter-kit" to the conversation, I've typed up a list of the more common value-adds that we see creative services teams hanging their hats on as they promote their departments to the larger organization.
Pick a few of these and conduct a gap analysis. Which of these value-adds rings truest for your group vs. which ones fit into your company's mission and your executives' vision? Or, how do your answers differ from what your direct supervisor would like to see from your creative team? Where is the gap between your answers and what do you need to do to close that gap?
This is easily the most common value proposition that in-house departments hold to, and depending on the company, it can be the most valuable. Important note here though, this is also one of the more "fun" areas for creative leaders to want to focus on, so be sure that the brand related value you "want" to add in this category is the same value that is desired by your company. Does your department control brand standards and/or reviews? What is the opportunity cost to your company if you don't?
Revenue Stream / ROI
Not surprisingly, it is shown to be very difficult for creative teams to track the return to the company from the creative projects they execute. If it can be tracked however, this is a very powerful picture of value that should be regularly used by creative executives.
Most in-house groups either admit they're slower than outside agencies, or they think that is the perception from their clients. If you can claim the "fastest" turnaround times available, you're not only in the minority, but you have a very good reason for your company to look to you for service.
Customer Service / Culture
Sure, it's a no brainer and everyone says they want to provide the best customer service that they can. But, operating models vary greatly, and have a significant impact on whether "world class" customer service can be offered. Are you set up to provide customer service levels at or above the levels provided to your clients by other resources?
Simply put, if you're saving the company a lot of money and you can prove it, use it as part of your value proposition. Not to mention that almost any in-house creative team can show significant cost savings against outside competition.
Some shops do production, some do slightly more involved design work, some are fully functional conceptual creative groups sitting within the confines of the corporation. Put it into context. Could my client easily get this same project at the same level of work quality if they chose to use another resource? If you're the clear winner here, use this as a value proposition.
Corporate liability may be the most powerful thing to have on your side as a creative leader if you work in a highly regulated industry (Ex. financial services or pharmaceuticals). Focus on it if you've got it. Does your department help your company to achieve a higher level of compliance in any area? What is the risk to the company if a mistake is made?
When this trait shows up prominently in a creative department and is marketed well as a value proposition, it tends to send the creative services department surging up the strategic ladder within the company. Does your creative team consistently bring new, revenue driving ideas to your organization?
This trait typically comes into play when in-house groups compete heavily with outside agencies, and is enhanced when the in-house creative team has an Account Management function in place. Nobody can promote trust from clients more than an in-house services team. And it's a scary thing to your clients to have to trust outside vendors with thousands and millions of dollars. Play this one up if you can.
Data / Insights
Some in-house groups, depending on their methods of data capture, can be very effective at capturing various points of data for their marketing and R&D functions. What kind of information do you have access to as a creative leader that can help your organization?
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