A Method for Keeping Creative Projects on Brand, on Budget and on Time

The creative elements of a marketing campaign are often the most exciting to develop. It’s where memorable visuals and precise copy come together to spur an audience to action.

Creative projects may take the form of a new print ad, a tradeshow booth design or even a video promotion. For many companies in the life sciences arena, these projects are often done in conjunction with a marketing agency partner.

But as fun as it is to see these creative projects come to life, it’s also hard work to ensure the final product matches up with your brand, budget and deadline requirements. Here’s a high-level workflow that can help your company get there.

1. Identify your internal “approvers.”

Which person or people at your company will ultimately vet the ideas presented and provide final approval? Determine who is an influencer and who is a decision maker. Make sure all parties are clear on their role and when they’ll be involved.

2. Define goals.

Develop a creative roadmap. This is a document that includes the goal of the project, the target audience, the primary idea to be conveyed, factual support points, objections that may need to be overcome, the format for presentation, budget allotted and any “must haves” or available assets in terms of visual execution. The influencers and decision-makers defined in Step 1 should review and approve this document before your agency begins its concepting work. Ultimately, the success of the project should be measured against the goal laid out in this roadmap.

3. Create a timeline.

Start by determining your deadline, such as a product launch or trade show at which the campaign materials will be made public. Create a list of defined deliverables and corresponding dates so all relevant parties can clear their schedules at key times for reviews. The timeline should include approval dates for the creative roadmap, as well as dates for three to five rounds of concepts being delivered and three to five rounds of feedback. Also, include dates for final approval and delivery of the final files.

4. Execute against the plan.

Execute the creative process outlined in the timeline with relevant parties, providing consolidated feedback at defined steps.

5. Gather feedback.

Evaluate the success of the program based on both measurable metrics and less tangible but equally important anecdotal feedback. Consolidate this feedback and define actionable items to improve or refine the program as it continues, or for the next similar project.

6. Refine as needed.

Refine materials as appropriate if this is an ongoing campaign. This could include changes in call to action, copy points or visuals. If the program was for a short and defined period of time and doesn’t warrant refinements, be sure all relevant parties are aware of the learnings from the evaluation stage so they can be applied to the next project.

Applying a defined methodology to the creative process can help all parties manage expectations and deliver the best possible outcome on budget.