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How to Motivate Your Creative Team with An Inbound Mindset

How to Motivate Your Creative Team with An Inbound Mindset Blog Feature

Alex Winter

Creative Director, 10+ Years of Video Marketing Strategy and Creative Leadership

September 6th, 2018 min read

Marketing aside, inbound is a mindset that we in the industry must actively apply on a regular basis.

Rather than simply implementing a set of tactics, we must focus on building trust and forging strong relationships with everything we do. We must draw people towards us by being interesting and honest, not by interrupting them.

You know, “Make love, not spam.”

So many people feel unsatisfied after making a purchase, but why?

I believe it’s because they crave meaning. They desire a greater purpose behind the purchases they make.

Establishing this purpose and trust through meaningful experiences is what inbound is all about.

Therefore, the creative designed to encourage a purchase (whether it be copy, a website, graphics, video, etc.) needs to connect with your personas in a deeper, meaningful way.

Last month, I was lucky enough to spend time with Dharmesh Shah, the co-founder and CTO of HubSpot, thanks to our unbelievably awesome event called IMPACT Live.

Our conversation started off about pizza, specifically why black olives should never be put on one, but then we talked about the idea that inbound marketing is a mindset, not a tactic.

I was fascinated to hear his perspective and how very much it aligned with my own.

Inbound comes down to creating the best end-user experience and the journey we intend to take our audiences on, and for many of the organizations we work with, this relies heavily on their website.

We always hear about marketers being inbound, and more recently, salespeople as well as leaders, but what about the great minds behind our web presences? Those talented web designers and developers?

How exactly do you get these team members to buy into the idea of inbound as a mindset? I’ve narrowed it down to five things:

1. Establish Trust

The most important piece to any relationship is trust, which includes teams.

However, it is especially important when we are talking about creativity as there is an inherently emotional aspect to being creative.

It is emotional intelligence and awareness that gives creatives the ability to put themselves in the shoes of the consumer and deliver the experience they want to see.

If someone doesn’t feel understood or supported emotionally, it is difficult to establish the trust needed to be a strong team. It’s crucial for your team to know you have their best interests at the forefront of your leadership.

At IMPACT, we work hard to make sure everyone knows they are supported both personally and professionally. We are invested in their growth as an individual in both of these areas.

We build this trust by being transparent. We strive to openly and honestly give feedback and encourage consistent learning.

Setting creatives, in particular, up for success means you have to listen to them critically. Listening to your team shows you’re invested in them on multiple levels and creates trust. Trust will grow the individuals on your team, the team as a unit and the company as a whole.

2. Create a Healthy Work/Life Balance

Life is all about balance and it’s important to also establish the importance of a strong work/life balance with your creative team(s).

Meaningful life experiences, even non-work-related, directly feed into better performance and results. This is especially true when we talk about performing in a creative field. Experiences out of the office can offer a new perspective or inspire unexpected solutions to problems. It is a must!

Our team is ridiculously passionate about what they do, which is so incredibly awesome! However, our very own Britt Schwartz spoke about high-level performers like them at IMPACT Live and explained that many find this drive difficult to manage at times.

Their willingness to go above and beyond what’s required can be exhausting from a manager’s perspective. Reversely, it can be equally exhausting for high-level performers to stay at that level of intensity.

At some point, everyone needs a break. Which is why a healthy work/life balance is essential. An imbalance can lead to burnout and frustration and nothing halts creativity like exhaustion.

With all this in mind, I frequently remind my teams to unplug, stop working and hit the reset button -- especially after hours.

3. Show Them the Impact of Their Work

Buy-in from your team members is the key to successful outcomes.

The easiest way to achieve “buy-in” is to clearly communicate how each member of the team contributes to the project as a whole; to let them see why their specific efforts make a difference and matter.

When people can see an end result of their work that they really believe in, they’re more invested. They are more motivated to put their best forward and their work becomes more than just a job; it becomes a mission.

Spend the time researching a project with your team members so they fully understand what their work is helping to achieve.

The more they know, the better they can understand what specifically needs to be done. What’s more inbound-y than helpfulness?

4. Create Small Wins

Coming up with a visionary idea can be really exciting. Those BIG ideas are why we come to work every day, right?

But, how do you take an idea that’s up in the clouds and bring it down to reality? More importantly, how do you map out the steps needed to accomplish the bigger goal?

Create a roadmap for success.

I personally like to start at the finish line of a project (the goal) and reverse engineer to a logical starting point.

In doing so, a plan with key milestones and small wins becomes apparent, making a project easier to digest.

Similar to a major sporting event, those small wins create momentum. They generate positive traction that builds confidence, energy, and collaboration.

Inbound is about overcoming obstacles and creating breakthroughs.

It’s about progress, not perfection. By creating a roadmap with incremental wins, it is easier to focus, diagnose specific problems, and determine how to avoid them in the future.

When you create this culture and mindset for your team, you create a healthier environment for creative thinking and experimentation without the fear of failure.

5. Use Inbound Leadership

What is Inbound Leadership?

IMPACT’s COO, Chris Duprey said it best - Inbound leadership is operating from a “how can I help” perspective, obsessed with the success of our people and teams - leading to a positive and lasting impact on the organization.

As an inbound leader, I am always looking for ways to motivate individuals and teams to become engaged. The stronger I can get team members to buy-in and be committed to the team and organization’s purpose, the stronger the outcomes.

It’s important to practice what you preach and lead by example.

There’s no better way to establish trust with your teams than by doing exactly that. Strive to be helpful by actively listening to your people. Be as transparent as you possibly can. Create small wins by showing them the work they do actually matters. Establish a strong balance of work and life to feed their creativity.

Leadership through listening is the best way to help your team and your clients. It’s what Inbound is all about.  

What’s Your Motivation?

In my role, my motivation is to create an environment for my team produce the best work they possibly can.

I ask you to think of the best ways you can motivate your team to take ownership of what they do, invest in the team, and love what they’re apart of.

Establish trust with your peers. Strive to help find a good work/life balance for yourself and others. Motivate people to buy-in to your companies ideas and beliefs. Create small wins to set individuals on a path to success.

Most importantly, strive to put your people first.

Inbound Leadership Guide
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