Creative Workflows
Marketing excellence

Strategies for implementing a creative workflow and gaining organizational buy-in

In marketing, every client and campaign is unique, but the creative process workflow behind it all? Not so much. No matter the project, the steps are always more or less the same: draft content, gather feedback, make edits, and secure approval. If you feel like you’re reinventing the wheel with every campaign, that's where the creative workflow comes in to save the day.



min read

Jun 10, 2024

What is a creative workflow?

Simply put, a creative workflow is a series of steps that marketing teams follow to create each and every deliverable. It makes content production and the process of managing it organized, predictable and – most importantly – repeatable! The goal is to streamline work without stifling creativity.

While a creative workflow process can vary by organization, team or even project, they all include the same basic steps of ideation, content creation, feedback and approvals. Within those steps, you will define timelines, tasks and who is involved at what stages. With this information available to all the stakeholders, your team can move forward toward campaign launch with fewer stumbling blocks along the way.

Strategies for implementing a creative workflow and gaining organizational buy-in

Why do I need a creative workflow?

By putting repeatable processes in place, a creative workflow helps you achieve creative success that scales, and a lot of that comes thanks to significant time savings. Let’s dive into the benefits of creative workflows.

Set up for success

With a solid framework to start from, marketers have the chance (and the time!) to deliver higher-quality creative assets. A workflow can serve as a guide so that everyone on the team is in sync and working toward shared goals.

The right people at the right time 

A creative workflow makes it clear whose approval is needed and at what stage in the game. When everyone knows what to expect from the start, you can eliminate power struggles and politics.

Ready, not waiting

Cut down on the time spent lining up resources and approvals. A workflow adds transparency and a self-serve element so that everyone can see when they’re needed and when their work is due.

Limited risk

In addition to ensuring that you don’t miss any key reviews, creative workflows limit risk by optimizing design processes based on past learnings. After all, when you have past examples to work from, you know exactly what to avoid.

Timing is everything

Creativity takes time, but at least you can be realistic about it. A workflow sets expectations around how long each phase of your project will take while making everyone aware of deadlines.

Tweaked to perfection

With everything documented and laid out before you, a creative workflow lets you see what’s working and what needs improvement so that you can continually optimize.

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How do I set up a creative workflow?

If you’ve never created a marketing workflow before, you might be daunted by the idea of putting in work before the real work even begins. But think of it as an investment: The effort you put into a creative workflow now will save you far more time in the future. Here are 10 simple steps to get your workflow in working order.

  1. Discuss the benefits of a creative workflow with key stakeholders, and gather support from an executive sponsor or a respected creative who understands a workflow's value.

  2. Document the main types of projects your team creates, and think about workflows by volume. If your team works on a few different campaign or deliverable types, you may need different workflows. Consider cost, the number of people impacted, and the risk involved when choosing which workflow to start with.

  3. Record the steps to take your project to the finish line, from brainstorming to launch.

  4. Think critically about who needs to be involved in which steps and how long each should take. Then, set clear roles and deadlines for all involved, whether they’re creating content, reviewing, or giving final approval.

  5. Get buy-in from those involved to refine these roles, timelines, and any rules around their involvement.

  6. Test drive the process. Try out the workflow with a test campaign or use an example campaign to talk through whether you’ve missed any steps.

  7. Optimize a standardized workflow by setting it up in a creative workflow tool. (More on this below!)

  8. Plan your campaigns. Add your campaigns to the tool and see the benefits of your work flowing.

  9. Scale your creative output as you work through campaigns using your new creative workflow.

  10. Hold periodic reviews to assess your workflow and optimize it. Ask your team what’s working well and what needs improvement, and be sure to look at campaigns that succeeded in the past – or went awry.

Why should I use a creative workflow tool?

So, you’ve created a workflow and have made your creative process steps repeatable. Now it’s time to make them repeatable and automated! The right creative workflow management software can provide transparency to get everyone on the same page while ensuring that no one is skipped over in the ideation, creation, review or approval process.

What are the best creative workflow tools?

When it comes to implementing an effective creative workflow, the right tools can make all the difference. These tools not only facilitate smooth processes but also enhance collaboration and productivity across the team. Here, we explore some of the best creative workflow tools that can transform your marketing workflow.

Project Management Software

Project management software like Trello, Asana, and StreamWork are indispensable for managing tasks, timelines, and team responsibilities. Trello offers a highly visual board system that lets you track the progress of different projects through various stages. Its simplicity and user-friendly interface make it suitable for teams of all sizes.

On the other hand, Asana provides a more detailed and structured approach to project management, with features like task dependencies, project milestones, and workload balancing. These tools are designed to keep everyone on the same page and ensure that deadlines are met without chaos.

If you're on the look out for a creative-focused project management software, top creative teams use StreamWork to turn creative feedback into tasks and assign to team members so that all design feedback remains in context.

Communication Tools

Effective communication is the backbone of a successful creative workflow. Tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams provide robust platforms for real-time communication. Slack channels can be created for specific projects or teams, facilitating focused discussions and quick resolutions to any issues that might arise.

Microsoft Teams offers back and forth communications as well as integrated features with other Microsoft applications such as Word, Excel, and SharePoint.

Design Tools

For creative teams, design tools are essential. The Adobe Creative Suite offers highly technical applications like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign geared toward professional graphic design work.

Canva is another valuable tool in the design space, especially for teams that require quick and easy graphic design solutions. With its extensive library of templates and drag-and-drop functionality, Canva enables even non-designers to create professional-looking graphics rapidly.

Feedback and Approval Tools

Collecting stakeholder and external client feedback on creative is crucial to the creative process. StreamWork is a next-generation solution for streamlining the management of creative projects. It simplifies workflows by consolidating all feedback, approvals, and task management into one cohesive interface. This enables teams to communicate more effectively, reduce administrative overhead, and focus more on creative output rather than process management.

Whether you're dealing with design, marketing, or any other project-driven work, StreamWork provides the tools needed to keep projects on track and enhance productivity.

Ready to build your first creative workflow in StreamWork? Give it a try for free. We can’t wait to get your workflow flowing.

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Meredith is the Founder and CEO of StreamWork, a creative workflow management platform built for teams who work on creative. Meredith has 12+ years experience working as a marketer at Apple, Google, YouTube and Warner Bros., and has worked on hundreds of creative assets with teams large and small. Her mission is to simplify the way teams work on creative.

Creative Workflows
Marketing excellence
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