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Evolving Your Department’s Service Offerings—The Talent Question

Laura Berry

Laura Berry   June 1, 2012   General

So you want to move onto bigger and better projects. You want to attract new clients, as well as keep current clients happy and coming back for more. You want to be able to offer print, interactive, social, video and all other areas of creative solutions, but technology and communication channels are changing so quickly that it’s nearly impossible for your staff and you to keep up.

Before you rush to follow the latest trend or respond to a request to create a project outside of your team’s wheelhouse, you need to consider your department’s mission and your department’s ability to be successful against the request. If delivering against new deliverable types is important to your department’s growth, as well as in the best interests of your company, you’ll need to assess the type of talent and expertise you need for the new venture. Some of the people on your team could be capable, but you may not have time to give them for their individual learning curves—which may or may not even pan out.

Step 1: Assess Type and Quality Level
Assess the type of work your agency intends to do, including the level of quality you expect to produce. It is one thing to say you will do advertising, marketing and social media, but exactly what kind? To whom? For how long?

Do you intend to do local newspaper advertising, quarterly direct mail coupons and a generic Facebook fan page? Or will you establish high-level branding on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, produce animated banner ads on partnered websites, and use guerilla marketing tactics at local ballparks? This will be determined by the end-clients/buyers your company intends to attract, the type of talent you want to work with and the professional level of work you want to produce (e.g., 90-second YouTube video versus 30-second television hi-def commercial). Both approaches can have lucrative results, but each requires different budgets and ranges of expertise.

To help determine the type of work you would like to produce, identify your target client and audience. Take a look at the work that is currently being done by your competitors. Review and evaluate their work from an objective prospective to help create your own needs assessment.

Step 2: Identify the Required Skills
List the core competencies you will need for the type of work you plan to do, e.g.,

  • Layout & Design
  • Illustration/Animation
  • Videography
  • Front End Web Development

When you have a completed this list, put them in order of importance/expertise for you from top to bottom. This may be harder, but it is will help you identify what skills are the most important to your search.

Step 3: Determine Talent Level/Expertise Required
Be honest with yourself. The work you are looking to produce may not require a “rockstar.” Seriously…do you really need one? Well…do you?

Review your benched talent. Your current business needs may not require the same competencies, but that doesn’t mean your team members don’t possess the skills you need as they may be doing freelance work in these areas. Ask to review projects they have created that may be relevant or perhaps give them a small, well-defined sample project that would simulate what you might be doing, such as a favicon, animated banner ad or website home page.

Step 4: Identify New Talent
If you need to hire outside support, consider using freelancers until you know whether this will be a long-term need. The freelancer may or may not need to be onsite, so don’t limit your search to local talent if you are having trouble finding the right fit.  (Learn more about interviewing candidates and reviewing portfolios)

Your other option is partnering with an agency to deliver projects outside of your wheelhouse. Your team can still provide great value as far as brand continuity, translating business needs into the creative strategy and creative direction, but the external agency can do the heavy lifting until you decide to turn the skill into a core competency.

Technology is regularly changing—it’s impossible to staff our teams to meet every need of our internal business partners. Think about saying “whoa” not “no” next time someone requests something that is new to your everyday scope of work.

Have you seen the 2012 In-House Creative Industry Report yet? What percentage of your peers operates under a chargeback model (pg. 25)? What is the most common challenge of creative leaders (pg. 35)? What percentage of teams tracks time (pg. 19)? Learn the answers to these and more at www.creativeindustryreport.com!

Linda Daniels has been deeply engaged in the creative industry for over twenty years. As an Instructional Design and Assessment Specialist, she is responsible for the strategic direction, management, development and design of assessment and training processes for The BOSS Group. This includes serving as a thought leader for industry best practices, developing ongoing F2F and web-based training programs, and growing multidisciplinary partner networks. Her talent and experience as a design thinker is apparent, as it is reflected in her ability to lead, educate and motivate both traditional and interactive teams. Today, Linda continues to stay at the crest of innovation while working with industry top thinkers, educating students and connecting with people.

Laura Berry

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