I recently wrote about the growing divide between the "math men" (the quants who use marketing automation and tech to deliver measurable results) and the creatives (the designers and writers who regularly produce the content on which marketing campaigns are based).

As each group grows increasingly sophisticated, both grow worse at communicating with each other.

That poor communication breeds frustration and resentment as each party leaves a project unsatisfied with the other's work.

Visually, the visual content marketing company where I work, recently released a comprehensive survey that details the growing tension between marketers and creatives. The survey of 789 content marketers and creative professionals identified several pain points that both parties encounter when dealing with each other.

The data shows that more than 60% of content marketers and creatives say the key issues that hinder optimal collaboration include...

  • Poor communication
  • A lack of timely and consistent feedback
  • Ill-defined and executed creative briefs
  • A shortage of creative team staffing

The word most frequently used by both marketers and creatives to describe their relationship was "frustrating."

But it doesn't have to be this way. Though our survey highlighted the tensions between some marketers and creatives, it also found that 37% of marketers are either extremely satisfied or very satisfied with their creative teams.

So what separates the 37% from the 63%? Those satisfied marketers do the following...

1. Write strong creative briefs

As a marketer, you may think you're sending your creatives adequate creative briefs, but you aren't. You haven't taken the time to learn what a creative brief really is.

Too often, marketers just describe the end product they desire to creatives and think that's sufficient direction. But a real creative brief is so much more.

A real creative brief identifies...

  • The problem you're solving
  • The consumers you're wanting to reach
  • The method through which you'll reach them
  • The action you'd like them to take

All those details are needed for a creative to produce an end product that truly fits your needs.

Moreover, writers and designers should probe deeper after they receive a creative brief. They should ask questions and get a clearer understanding of the project. The better your understanding of the project, the fewer revisions requested by the marketers upon delivery.

2. Staff adequately

Only 24% of marketers feel that the creative teams they work with are staffed adequately. This lack of proper staffing creates a bottleneck when project managers stack work on large piles of work for a single designer or copywriter.

Before assuming the creative can take on the work, project managers should ask the creative about his or her workload. If it's too heavy, consider asking another creative at the company or hiring an outside freelancer.

3. Create effective feedback processes

A creative team often delivers several phases of work between when the project begins and ends (if the project is a large one). Yet 32% of creatives said they receive poor feedback during these phases; less than 29% said that marketers provide feedback that's consistent or given in a timely manner.

You should have structured feedback processes in place in which members of each team are assigned to sign off on each iteration. Without those appointed ambassadors, feedback becomes a free-for-all. Moreover, the creative finds himself having to incorporate conflicting feedback, which results in an end product that nobody is satisfied with.

4. Agree on a timeline

About 26% of creatives said they often start projects without an agreed-upon timeline. That can quickly create tension between a creative who thought she had an entire month to finish a project and a marketer who suddenly informs her that the project is due tomorrow.

* * *

A consistent theme can be found among all of the above tips: communication.

Too often in this field, professionals become siloed within their own specialties, and this isolation stokes resentment. Once we seek to truly understand each other's roles, we can develop empathy for pain points and seek to avoid them in the future.

As the psychologist Daniel Goleman said, "A prerequisite to empathy is simply paying attention."

Creatives and marketers would do well to follow that advice.

To dive deeper into our findings, check out the full report.

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Four Ways Marketers and Creatives Can Collaborate Better

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image of Matt Cooper

Matt Cooper is CEO of Visual.ly, a content creation platform that enables businesses to engage audiences through premium visual content created by vetted freelance creative professionals.

LinkedIn: Matt Cooper