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Hybrid Mentality: Balancing the Business and Creating Sides of Marketing

by Debbie Arata

It has become a marketing industry cliché: the seemingly never-ending struggle between creatives and account professionals in the workplace. On the one side you have designers, artists and writers who often see the creative process as a form of artful brand expression that stirs emotions and provokes action. On the other side you have account supervisors and managers who typically take a strategy-first approach to achieving brand goals by any means necessary.

Which side is correct? Well both, actually. But more importantly, how can these two mindsets coexist in harmony so they can effectively serve the clients they represent? Is there common ground to be found between these distinct approaches that, at least on the surface, seem to conflict? The short answer is yes, and the reason I know this for sure is that I have seen these dual personalities – up close and personal – and they are me.

Dual personality. Singular focus.
Yes, you heard me right. As a creative director and account manager at a small St. Louis-based marketing firm, I wear many hats on a daily basis. At a smaller shop, that’s probably not uncommon, but there is an interesting dynamic between the creative and business ways of thinking. In fact, scientists say that if you tend to be more creative or artistic, you’re thought to be right-brained, while analytical and methodical thinkers are governed by the left side of the brain.
Most of us have a dominant side and that’s why certain talents and traits seem to come a bit more naturally to us. These characteristics are often what make us unique. From my perspective, I have always been an artist at heart and have spent the majority of my career as a graphic designer, art director and creative director. I also have a love for photography and the written word. On top of all of this, I have always had a detailed focus on the things I am interested in and passionate about.

So when the opportunity arose to take on a few account management opportunities at Spoke Marketing, I was intrigued and dove right in. Like most adventures, there was a learning curve – and insights I would have never gained if I had not chosen to pursue this path.

Developing this type of dual professional personality actually has a few advantages. Like knowing all of the specific things to ask when a client has a logo assignment. And by “specific” I mean going beyond just the nuts-and-bolts aspects of the task to determine what the client wants their audience to think, feel and believe as a result. I find myself sometimes sketching a quick idea as we strategize. And on the flip side, when working on the assignment, I bring a business focus to the work in terms of staying on deadline and on budget. This also sometimes translates into knowing how to go above and beyond to deliver ideas and communications to the client that they might not even know they needed. This is where strategy truly meets creativity.

The other thing I have discovered is building a strong client relationship typically results in creating better work. What this really means is bridging the gap between “client” and “agency” so that you partner together in a symbiotic relationship that is mutually beneficial. When you stop and think about it, the clichés of “client versus agency” are not that different from “creatives versus account professionals.” Sure, there may be a grain of truth to each, but ultimately don’t all sides of the equation want the same things? Work that everyone can be proud of. Communications that inspire your audience. And yes, projects that come in on time and on budget. Yes, I really did just say that.

In life and in the workplace, we all have different perspectives. That can be a source of conflict. And that can also make things wonderfully interesting. So can creative and business minds live and work together in harmony? The answer is a resounding yes – and I like to think that my clients and agency team members both benefit from my ability to see both sides of this dynamic on a daily basis. After all, I’m living proof.

Debbie Arata is Creative Director/Account Manager at Spoke Marketing. Spoke Marketing (www.spokemarketing.com) provides fully-integrated marketing and sales programs that define and activate the customer buyer journey.

Submitted 13 days ago
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