• Part 1 of 8: The Creative Team of the Future

    Earlier this year, The Creative Group embarked on a new research project to find out what’s in store for creative professionals in the near future. Following is an excerpt from the guide, “8 Trends Shaping the Creative Team of the Future.” This is the first in the series…

    Big Changes and Bigger Opportunities

    Business and technology are changing so quickly that it can feel as if the “next big thing” is already old news by the time it reaches consumers. A constant stream of new developments, including original social networks, videoconferencing apps and mobile technology, presents greater challenges for those in the advertising and creative fields.

    What are the hottest upcoming industry trends? And which skills do you need to navigate them in the years ahead? To find out, The Creative Group conducted a survey*, in partnership with the American Advertising Federation (AAF), to find out what it will take to survive – and thrive – in the creative industry. This guide provides highlights from the research, as well as insights from thought leaders in the advertising and marketing fields. You can find additional information, including video interviews with leading creative thinkers, at creativegroup.com/creativeteamfuture.

    We might not have a crystal ball, but the following data and insights from industry experts can help propel your career in the right direction. For more tips, please contact The Creative Group office nearest you by calling 1.888.846.1668 or visiting creativegroup.com.

    Your new job title: Chief Problem Solver

    In an increasingly global marketplace marked by rapid technological change, what’s the most important skill for creative professionals to possess? Problem-solving ability.

    One-third of AAF Ad Club members we surveyed cited problem-solving skills as the most useful trait for creative professionals to develop in the next three to five years. Other top responses included verbal and written communication skills (27 percent); interpersonal skills, such as tact and diplomacy (16 percent); and management/leadership abilities (8 percent).

    More companies are recognizing the value that creative teams can provide in terms of finding innovative solutions to business problems – not just developing aesthetically pleasing designs or catchy ad campaigns. In fact, 64 percent of survey respondents said creative professionals will have more influence on their companies’ business decisions in the future.

    Of course, thinking creatively and being able to pitch unconventional ideas effectively are essential to the problem-solving process. Joe Duffy, creative director at Duffy & Partners, underscores this point: “When it’s all said and done, it’s about coming up with something that people want to hear or see, and that they can associate with. This has always been the case, regardless of the delivery mechanism.”

    Mary Baglivo, CEO and chair of the Americas at Saatchi & Saatchi, agrees: “The successful players and agencies are going to be those that put a premium on generating great ideas. That requires the ability to be insightful and know not just what consumers think about and do, but what they care about. Great ideas address what people are really passionate about.

    “Storytelling as a capability also is crucial,” Baglivo adds. “Creatives need to be able to express ideas in words, in visuals, musically, and so on. They need to understand the right form of communication, and the right places and the ideal moments to connect with consumers, and then do a brilliant job of storytelling the creative idea. Consumer insight, analytics, idea creation and storytelling are age-old skills that are still very important.”

    Are You an ‘Ideas Person’?

    Following are some tips to help you position yourself as a problem solver:

    • Know your numbers. If you’re not comfortable crunching numbers or sorting and analyzing data in Excel, now’s the time to take a refresher course. Technology generates reams of information about user behavior, and your ability to interpret various facts and figures will help you be more successful.

    • Adapt to new technologies quickly. Being able to predict the next hot social network or killer app isn’t as important as embracing and experimenting with new contenders as they begin to gain popularity. Read up on the latest innovations at sites like TechCrunch and Mashable.

    • Hone your collaboration skills. “Collaboration is absolutely critical, particularly now that the best ideas come into contact with end users from many different points,” says Duffy of Duffy & Partners. You might need to work with employees in different departments, including public relations, information technology, legal and human resources – sometimes across multiple companies – to bring an idea to life.

    • Think of yourself as the letter T. “You had better be T-shaped or you’re done,” says Quentin George, chief digital officer at IPG Mediabrands. What does that mean? You need deep subject-matter expertise (the vertical part of the T) paired with an understanding about how your skill set fits across the entire marketing spectrum (the horizontal part of the T).

    *The survey was distributed to AAF Ad Club members nationwide in February 2011. More than 500 individuals – who represent those employed in all aspects and disciplines of the advertising industry, including agencies, corporate marketing departments, broadcast and print media companies, and industry suppliers – responded to the survey. As a token of appreciation, The Creative Group donated $5 to AAF’s Most Promising Minority Students Program for each survey response received.

    Donna Farrugia is Executive Director at The Creative Group, a division of specialized staffing leader Robert Half International Inc., which specializes in placing highly skilled creative, advertising, marketing, web and public relations professionals with a variety of firms. To read “The Creative Group of the Future,” click here.

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