If your in-house creative agency is viewed as a bunch of folks who just take product photos, then it’s time to change that perception. Now, more than ever, the creative process is central to business success. Today’s in-house creative departments impact not just marketing, but the full idea-to-shelf lifecycle, from initial steps in the product design life cycle all of the way through to the customer experience. In the era of digital transformation, today’s creative teams are positioned to increase their impact on the customer experience and the overall success of the business.
The world of creative services has changed. And it’s changed dramatically in a relatively short period of time, with 20% more companies establishing in-house agencies in just the last five years.
The original reasoning for bringing creative work in-house was for the efficiency savings and cost benefits. While these are still drivers, today’s companies are placing more focus on the customer experience than ever. Customer expectations are high, and the competitive advantage belongs to the companies that deliver on those expectations faster than competitors. This requires a new type of thinking to integrate creative in-house activities with the overall business objectives, drive brand consistency, and contribute to exceptional customer experiences.
In-house agencies need to move away from being primarily regarded as a cost-saver to being an essential part of growing the business. A renewed focus on brand and business alignment puts the in-house studio at the front and center of the business.
Today’s in-house agency goes way beyond traditional creative services, touching areas like:
- Content marketing
- Digital production
- Digital strategy
- Influencer marketing
- Media planning
- New channel development
- Observational studies
- Social media
With creative teams becoming a more integral component of company operations, there’s an opportunity to introduce new ways of thinking. The right approach can empower the in-house studio to excel in ways that increase its worth to the enterprise even further.
6 Ways to Position the In-House Studio as Essential to the Business
Once an organization has realized the need to better integrate internal creative teams throughout the business, the question then becomes, “How?” Here’s some advice:
- Plan for growth - Organizations need more content than ever before - and they need it produced in the most cost-efficient ways, which means balancing resources, budget, and priorities. It’s not just from the quantity of content, but also the different formats (documents, images, videos, audio files) and delivery channels. The business focus on content has never been stronger, and the rise of digital is the perfect opportunity to learn and develop new processes.
- Build partnerships - While in-house agencies have become commonplace in many enterprises (especially those with a focus on building and nurturing their brand), external agencies are still a significant contributor. Coordination between in-house and external agencies is essential to maximize ROI and to effectively leverage specialized expertise and experience.
- Drive business alignment - Creative content value multiplies when content is connected to data — especially when the two are connected to the relevant business process - from design through to customer experience. Assets produced by an in-house agency should be fully integrated into the product supply chain. In-house agencies, with their inherent knowledge of the business, are ideally suited to build the connections between content and data that transforms assets into rich information.
- Involve the business - In-house agencies bring a lot of brand and institutional knowledge to the creative process, but it is inevitable that others across the organization will want to review and approve assets before they can be used. The in-house studio is perfectly positioned to manage a common content review workflows to ensure that those involved understand the business needs and that all processes have been followed to ensure the accuracy and brand integrity of their content.
- Protect intellectual property - Intellectual property (IP) is the lifeblood of an enterprise. Yet, intellectual property management is often overlooked when creative activities are conducted in a dispersed and incohesive manner throughout the organization, and with external teams and partners. The internal creative team is often the central point where a lot of the IP comes together, which makes them well-positioned to be the hub for managing the brand narrative and end-user experience.
- Manage risk - Misuse of creative assets isn’t only about protecting the brand - it can lead to litigation, fines, or even jail time for officers of the company. No one wants to be the person who costs the company millions of dollars in fines because they posted the wrong image in the wrong place. The in-house agency can help in developing a proactive process for the use of assets that manage risk rather than react to it.
For more details and discussion on this subject check out our whitepaper, Six Opportunities for In-House Agencies to Excel.