Meetings and work frustrations are killing creativity in marketing

Why do you work in marketing? I’m willing to bet that among the many phrases that just popped into your head, “I get to work creatively” was in there somewhere

And that’s no surprise. According to our recent Workfront Global Marketing Report, for 40% of UK marketers, the skill they most value in their role is creativity.

Right now, as brands across the world plan their reopening strategies to bring customers back following the pandemic lockdown, the ability to think creatively is vital for imagining and executing marketing campaigns with differentiated ideas that will help businesses return to a level of ‘normal’. But worryingly, the same research report found that for the majority of their working day, marketers barely get to go near creative tasks.

In fact, UK marketers are only able to focus on their highest value work for 21% of their average week – which works out to just over an hour and a half a day. Read that again. Just an hour and a half a day is spent on their most important work.

That means the bulk of a marketer’s working day is dominated by distractions, and low-value activity such as email (10% of their day), repetitive tasks (12%) and searching for data and files (8%). But the biggest time killer and source of frustration for marketers is unproductive meetings (18%), which takes nearly the same amount of time in the marketer’s day as the focused work that requires their valuable key skills.

Unleash marketing creativity by removing workplace frustrations

So, for the majority of the average marketer’s day, they aren’t using the key skills that both inspired them to enter the industry and are essential to creating successful, winning campaigns.

Second to creativity, the study found that marketers most value their ability to be agile, (31%), quickly responding to changing market forces and unexpected disruption – another skill vital in today’s climate.

All too often, these skills are being undermined by workplace frustrations. For many this stretches beyond just the day-to-day distractions of emails and too many requests. For example, nearly a quarter of marketers (23%) say their companies have a lack of strategic alignment across teams, while 17% feel they have a lack of defined workflows across teams. All of this is making it harder for marketing teams to collaboratively brainstorm, manage campaigns and make sure that all of their work efforts are contributing to the same goal.

When working at speed and under pressure, marketers need to know that their work matters and is contributing to something worthwhile. When they feel like their work isn’t visible  or aligned with other teams, it can lead to frustration and demoralisation.

These pressures are even taking a personal toll on leaders, especially in today’s environment. A recent Marketing Week report found that 46% of marketing executives feel less efficient during the pandemic, leaving them ‘worried, distracted and stressed’ at work.

How to support your marketing team to deliver their best work

So, at a time when marketers most need to focus on creativity and agility, workplace disruptions and a lack of shared tools are preventing them from doing their best work. This presents an opportunity for business leaders to equip their marketing teams with the technologies and practices to help them remove obstacles and frustrations, and unleash the creativity and agility they value, and their companies need.

As businesses adapt to changes in the market, working remotely and dealing with new ways of working, marketers need the right technology more than ever to help them achieve this.

Many, however, are not getting access to the best technologies to help them successfully collaborate and respond with creativity or agility. Six in ten marketing teams (60%)—are still using disintegrated systems and need to navigate an average of nine different tools to manage projects, communication, design, approvals, calendars, and more across their daily role. Switching between applications adds to the distractions and repetitive tasks taking up so much of their day. 

Because of this, almost all marketers (90%) say their organisations need to do a better job at integrating and connecting key systems and tools so that they can focus on the creativity their role demands. 

Clearly, marketing professionals and teams are bogged down by too many disconnected tools, a lack of strategic alignment, siloed work processes, and poor visibility. This is affecting their work and their motivation. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

It’s time for a more modern approach to work

Instead, it’s time for a more considered approach to the way marketing teams work. Embracing modern work management practices and technologies will help marketers to take a holistic approach to their work, from automating intake to connecting work across their favourite creative applications, collaborating across teams and time zones, proofing and approving collateral, and executing and tracking campaigns.

In contrast to the current disparate approach to tools and solutions, work management allows teams, and even entire enterprises, to align all work with key business goals, and provide the visibility and context to execute the right work and make data-driven decisions.

As an alternative to having to spend their day requesting updates over email or logging into and tracking data across a whole host of siloed marketing tools, a work management platform allows marketers to focus on the high value work they’ve been hired to accomplish and gives leaders the visibility and control to make important decisions.

This research demonstrates that there is a huge opportunity for business leaders to free their marketing teams from the obstacles that are holding them back from working creatively, and with agility. Marketing provides essential connections between companies and their customers. As businesses and economies begin to recover from the pandemic, it’s more important than ever that marketers are free from obstacles that will prevent them from building relevant and compelling bridges to their customers.

In order to achieve strategic business outcomes in an environment that’s sure to be unusually dynamic for months, and even years, to come, leaders must provide marketers with technologies and practices that keep them engaged in the highest value work. Embracing work management technology ensures marketing teams can move beyond the distraction of the mundane and repetitious and unleash the creativity and agility that is now essential as they continue to navigate this disruptive, yet exciting, new world of work.

About the Author

Jada Balster, Vice President, Marketing at Workfront. Workfront is the first modern work management application that connects enterprise work, collaboration, and digital content into an Operational System of Record (OSR). Workfront has helped thousands of companies successfully transform their businesses into more modern enterprises.

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