As you scroll through LinkedIn, you may have noticed the title of Digital Creative Director cropping up in your network. Digital creative directors are one of the most vital players in any digital creative agency or digital marketing agency. A seasoned Digital Creative Director has a keen sense of the overall vision that keeps an agency competitive and successful in the current, ever-changing, digital landscape.
Here at M&P, we think our Digital Creative Director is the best of the best! I caught up with Kaitlin McMillan between her busy meeting schedule to ask her a few questions. If you’re considering taking a job as a Digital Creative Director or you’re considering hiring a creative agency, you won’t want to miss her words of wisdom. Here’s an interview with “the McMillan to our Phillips”—a day in the life of our digital creative director.
Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with me, Kaitlin! A digital creative director does a LOT. In a nutshell, what’s the primary focus of your job?
When you get to a certain level in your career it becomes less about doing the work and more about hiring the right people to do the work for you. My day-to-day is spent managing people and projects. I write company standards and then make sure they are upheld with every creative deliverable that goes out. I wish I could say I spend my hours dreaming and brainstorming creative concepts, but it’s not true.
How would you define what creative and digital media is for someone new to this area?
Ah, that’s a great question. Creative Agency doesn’t mean what it used to, does it? Agencies have had to adapt to the new mediums of advertising which now includes social media. The old era of agencies used to throw together one expensive campaign to go out on print and TV, while the new generation uses the same budget and puts together five campaigns to go out on social media, partnering blogs, YouTube and print. All of these platforms have different audiences which demand different creative deliverables. It’s a faster-paced environment and we simply don’t have the luxury of time on our side anymore.
That’s a super helpful take. For businesses already working with a creative marketing agency, how can you tell you’re working with a great creative marketing agency?
Transparency and communication! You should be made to feel like you’re a part of the process every step of the way.
Why do you think working with a creative agency is so important for businesses?
The convenience for the client. Our biggest pitch to clients is that they get an entire agency for the price of one full-time employee. They get six specialists instead of one generalist and you don’t have to pay our health insurance.
That’s a great pitch! Once you’re working with a business, how do you maintain great relationships with your clients?
I can’t say this enough but communication is critical. Let them know they are heard and a part of the process. Even though we’re the experts, our clients know their industry better than we do, so you have to foster a collaborative environment for them. We lead monthly reporting meetings (at a minimum), but a lot of our clients we meet with on a weekly basis so they feel comfortable with and understand our strategy.
What were the first steps you took to start the agency?
I established an LLC and received an EIN from the IRS, which meant I could now take money separately from my own person. My prior experience gave me a leg up, because I knew how to pitch to clients and I knew how to budget. Those are the two fundamentals that you need to have a grasp on before you go into business.
This certainly feels like a calling for you. What made you interested in creative and digital media and marketing?
Vogue. I’ve always idolized the people behind the magazine; the models, the photographers, the writers - Anna Wintour! It didn’t take me long to realize that digital marketing is in the same vein as magazines (except it’s profitable). Instead of applying for a job at Vogue (which I did, many times), I created a marketing company where I can work with photographers, models, and writers all the same. Marketing is so multi-faceted. It’s up to the Director to mold the campaigns. I get to ask myself; will high-end photography sell this product or should we put the emphasis on copy instead? It’s ever-changing.
How did you and Zach decide to start your own creative agency?
Because both of us are a little bit anarchist. I joke, but it’s true. We didn’t decide to start an agency together. We separately started our own agencies because we were tired of poor management and menial results.
Do you have a morning routine that sets you up for success the rest of the day?
L.O.L to a routine. I wish I had one and I am working on it. There are so many unexpected hurdles thrown my way that I’m merely learning how to recover from the punches and continue marching forward. I foresee the next five years being this way.
Can you break down your day for us? After your morning routine, what do you tackle first? What does a typical meeting look like with the team or with a client?
My days are insanely full with meetings which is why it’s critical to have self-sufficient, bad-ass employees. Zach and I are the face of the company so we’re the people clients meet with. We have 19 clients and bi-weekly meetings - you can do the math.
That’s a busy schedule! Do you build in breaks to stay sharp and refreshed? Just for fun, what do you normally eat for breakfast and lunch?
My eating habits are atrocious. I sustain myself with coffee and dinner. Everything in between is a complete blur.