Visual content plays a critical role in modern marketing strategies. In fact, in 2020 74% of marketers reported that they incorporate visual elements in more than 70% of their content. That’s a lot of creative horsepower. But creating visual content can be expensive — so producing videos, planning an on-location photoshoot, or hiring a new designer, for example, can be a real challenge for marketing and creative teams.
If you’re reading this article, you likely already know that creative teams need to articulate the return on their investments to keep their budgets alive. After all, the creative process exists to bring an organization’s business strategy to life in a compelling way. In the end, that means driving revenue. But marrying hard numbers to creative work is no easy feat, especially when soft information — like anecdotal research or customer testimonials — are the most common ways to measure the success of a piece of creative content.
Ultimately though, to get the most from your creative budget, teams must be able to demonstrate how creative elements impact larger business goals. Knowing which creative efforts yield the best results will not only save money, but will streamline efforts, satisfy your audience, and keep creative teams happily working on content that makes a difference.
Asking the right questions can help determine how to measure the success of your efforts. These questions might be:
- How often are creative assets being used?
- Where are creative assets being used?
- Which teams are using the available creative assets?
- Which content types are generating the most leads?
- Are there different content types we should test?
In addition, the success of creative content is influenced by how easily it can be found, used, and repurposed across teams. That’s why many organizations rely on creative asset management practices and tools to stay organized, measure results, and inform their creative strategy.
The link between a good budget and good creative work
Although managing a creative budget can be challenging, establishing clear priorities will drive successful creative output. Aligning your budget with your creative strategy makes it easier to identify the areas that have the highest impact on ROI and demand the most investment.
The long and short is, creatives love to create and will usually work as hard and as long as it takes to do their best work. A clear budget helps them monitor their time and produce the best work possible — while helping the organization stay profitable. And understanding which assets are used and engaged with the most will also inform future investment priorities.
Components of a good creative budget
So what expenses are included in a creative budget? It will vary from organization to organization, but these are key components that are often considered when prioritizing a budget.
- On-staff salaries
- Market research
- Voiceover talent
- Model talent
- Photoshoots and retouching
- Video shoots and editing
- Creative testing
- Marketing technology and/or software
The key is to look at your creative objectives and allocate percentages in each of these areas according to their weight in accomplishing business goals.
How to use DAM data to guide your creative budget
In addition to establishing priorities — and funding — for creative projects, budgets also account for the marketing technology (martech) tools that teams need to do their best work. And creative teams are increasingly considering digital asset management (DAM) software an essential budget line item.
Not only does a DAM solution keep assets organized and searchable — but they also provide insights into content performance and usage. Using DAM data will help teams answer questions like:
- Which departments are using the content we create?
- Where is the content being used?
- How often has the content been viewed?
It sounds a lot like the questions from above, right? That’s because they are. And the easiest way to get to this information is by implementing a DAM system with robust and easy-to-use analytics functionality.
Things to remember
Using DAM for creative workflows is a great way to keep content organized and measurable. Here are a few other things to keep in mind when it comes to keeping tabs on creative budgets.
- Good budgets support the execution of the creative strategy
- Share budgets with your creative team so they understand their priorities
- Put the most dollars against the strategies and tactics that yield the most ROI
- Use DAM data to assess your content performance
Your creative budget checklist
To make getting started a little easier, here’s a quick list of things to check off as you develop your creative budget:
|Is your creative strategy up to date?||If not, identify your creative goals and objectives for the year.||Creative budgets exist to execute on creative and business strategies.|
|Do you have the right people on your team to make your creative strategy happen?||If not, how will you augment your staff? (e.g., outsource work by hiring part-time, full-time, or freelance staff?)||Determine how much you need to invest in each option. Staff and salary will be your biggest budget expenses.|
|What are you priority initiatives for the year?||What content do you need to create as part of those initiatives?||Determine how much you can spend on creative support for each initiative. (e.g., photoshoots, video shoots, editing, voiceover, music, retouching, etc.)|
|What equipment do you need?||Determine how many people will need updated software, computers, or other devices.|
|Which campaigns or tactics have brought your the most return in the past?||Review any data that will show how your content is performing or being used.||Allocate more spending to the types of campaigns or tactics with the best engagement or that deliver the highest return.|
|What can you dial up or down throughout the year? Which budget items can be flexible?||Identify the strategies and resources you could potentially decrease if there are budget cuts.||Assign items to budget must-haves vs. budget nice-to-haves.|
If you’re already using DAM data to inform your creative budget, great! If not, it might be time to consider how a DAM system can help you take control of your creative asset management and inform your creative strategy.
Make the most of your creative process and energy. To learn more, take a self-guided tour of our DAM system and when you’re ready, with one of our advisors for a personalized demo.
Note: This article was originally published in November 2017 and has been updated to remain current.