The Value of Time and Experience in Advertising Design

In the last 25 years the growth of computer technology and the internet have both fundamentally changed how companies market themselves. The early to mid-nineties saw the birth of digital production. Then in the early part of this decade, digital television and the internet matured. And in the last three years, social media came of age.

Obviously this technology has had many positive effects when it comes to marketing and advertising, but in my opinion that same technology has had some negative effects as well. Most prominent is a tendency for people to think that digital workflows are inherently faster and more efficient.

When used properly, digital tools can certainly speed workflow and productivity.  But two things that are still key to selling people anything is developing great ideas and producing compelling stories. Getting these right STILL requires the two things the best digital tools can’t deliver — time and experience.

It’s no secret many projects have tighter deadlines and smaller budgets, and while a modest budget and quick turnaround doesn’t automatically doom a project, it certainly hampers the ability to make it stand out. That’s exactly where the value of experience comes in.

Experienced marketing professionals have typically worked on hundreds or even thousands of projects. That vast experience does two things. It gives the marketing professional great depth of knowledge about how to get projects done. And it provides a tapestry of work and ideas from which to draw upon.

Over the last 15 years here at Magnetic Image we’ve produced literally thousands of projects; from videos and print pieces to websites and social media pages. There is no substitute for that experience. When a client comes to us with a project, even if it’s something we’ve never done before, it’s a good bet that some element of that project is similar to past work. That experience does two things. It allows us draw upon our archives for ideas and workflow estimates, and because we’ve almost always done something similar, it speeds workflow.

These two things are at the heart of being a true professional, which in my opinion is any company or individual that is both fast and good. Give a group of designers a week to create something and you’ll usually get some great looking stuff. But how many designers can crank out great designs in a day? Probably not too many. The advantage these designers typically have over their less talented counterparts is experience. Certainly talent and creativity are important too, but I’ll almost always take the designer that is consistently fast and good over the designer that does great work but takes a week to do it. And rarely does the technology they’re using make any difference in the work or how fast they do it.

I see so many companies that opt to hire small, inexperienced firms to design websites or produce videos or manage their social media, and their hiring decision usually came down to being sold on the vendor’s “technology” or their “digital processes.” In this day and age, any marketing company still breathing is using advanced technology and dozens of digital processes…so I’m still amazed that smart executives are swayed by this. But darned if they aren’t. It amounts to snake-oil most of the time. But one thing is still true. The best technology simply cannot hide bad ideas, bad writing and bad storytelling.

If you don’t know what story your company needs to tell; or can’t tell that story in a compelling way; the design and execution of that story is irrelevant, and the digital tools used to produce are equally irrelevant. It’s a cliche, but experience matters. Oh does it matter!