How to build a performance creative workflow for Facebook & TikTok ads

What’s the most important skill you can build as a creative strategist

Analyzing ad data. Sure. 

Understanding consumer psychology. Of course. 

Figuring out which value propositions, offers, and ad formats will resonate. Yes and yes. 

But there’s a missing skill that’s overlooked. 

It’s the ability to build a killer creative operations workflow and train talent. 

Savannah Sanchez is one of the most talented creative strategists in the world. 

She’s created top-performing ads for Fabletics, Athletic Greens, Dr. Squatch, The Farmer's Dog, Ipsy, Kate Spade, Poshmark, Aéropostale, Pura Vida, Casely, Bumble, and BlendJet.

Her superpower? 

She has a specific vision for creative execution, plus an incredible ability to spot talent, train them, and help her bring that vision to life. 

Because when everyone—the creative strategist, the creator, the video editor—owns their zone of unique genius, creative magic begins to happen. 

Let’s look at Savannah's unique process for shipping high-performing creative with speed and scale. 

5 principles for a killer ad creation workflow  

Savannah has a specific vision for what the ad needs to be. 

Like many creative strategists, she gets this vision from analyzing data, understanding customer motivations, and collecting inspiration from other ads and brands. 

But—this is where many creative strategists stop. 

They have the vision in their heads. 

They know the style of cuts they want. 

They’ve looked at enough Motion reports to know what a top-performing concept should look like. 

But that vision crumbles into mediocrity when it collides with reality—the creators and editors tasked with bringing your vision to life. 

You need vision. But you also need a specific and refined process for finding and training the talent to execute what you see. 

Let’s look at five actions you can take to emulate Savannah’s approach to creative strategy. 

1. Ship ads faster = learn more 

First, Savannah ships more ads than anyone. 

Increasing creative volume gives you more reps, more data flowing back into your strategy, and more chances to hit a winner. 

Before starting her agency, Savannah worked at a big agency. They’d rent out a fancy studio, get the expensive cameras, hire actors, and slowly edit the footage. 

“You’d spend a month getting a couple of ads live. Then they’d flop, and the last month was a big, expensive failure,” she says. 

Now, she aims to get new ads live in her client’s ad accounts every week. 

“When I’m working with clients, the production timeline is Monday through Friday,” she told us. 

“We shoot on Mondays and Tuesdays, with the creators completing the shot list with their iPhone. We edit on Wednesdays and Thursdays. And then I get the new ads to the clients every Friday.”

Speed is key because creatives fatigue so quickly. You want to make sure you’re getting as much output going as possible. 

To increase your speed, Savannah recommends you skip high-production. 

“Every ad we create is filmed on an iPhone. You can even edit with CapCut on your iPhone. If you can ship ads faster, you’ll see much more success and get data back way faster.”

Savannah says that brands make the mistake of spending too much time making sure the ad is as polished as possible, making it on-brand, and getting design approval. 

And then months have passed and you’re just starting to get statistically significant data about whether this ad concept was even worth doing in the first place.

Savannah’s team aims to get statistically significant spend behind an ad within seven days. 

“Every week we’re using Motion to look at our top ads, the top-performing hooks, opportunities to iterate old top-performing concepts, and then using these creative metrics to guide next week’s production.” 

2. Increase creative inputs = make better ads 

Savannah is fully immersed in ad formats, organic TikTok and Instagram content. 

She’s constantly consuming. Absorbing. Immersing herself. 

This is a common trait among the most elite creative minds we talk to at Thumbstop. Our interviews with Jess Bachman and Barry Hott also emphasized the importance of increasing inputs to improve idea quality. 

A common mistake here is to ask about tools. Or easy ways to automate this. 

But Savannah made clear—there is no secret. It’s pure immersion. 

“Most of it comes down to me on Instagram or Facebook, coming across ads and then saving them,” says Savannah. “This is a habit I’ve been doing for years.”

Savannah saves the ad and then organizes it in Dropbox, categorizing it with tags like “food and beverage or beauty.” 

Savannah also gets her team to contribute to this inspirational library. 

She recommends creating a Slack channel dedicated to sharing ad ideas. For Instagram ads, you can create an Instagram Group Chat and save Story ads you find on your phone there. 

Savannah then further organizes ad inspiration with tags like “eye-catching hooks, skits, stitch-incoming, TikTok-trends, transitions, tutorials.” 

“Ideation for me is spending a lot of time on Instagram and TikTok and then organizing the ad inspiration so you can reference it later.” 

These visual examples become the foundation of her training and briefing process for her creators and video editors.  

3. Better UGC creators = more believable ads 

“The reason why a lot of brands are saying UGC doesn’t work for them like it used to, is the quality of their creators,” says Savannah. 

Brands are doing the bare minimum—such as a low-energy creator rattling off value props to a camera or doing another ‘3-reasons why’ ad—and expecting people to rush to the shopping cart. 

“Finding great talent is the key to all of this,” Savannah told us. 

“But the way I work with creators is different than many other agencies and I think it is the reason why we are so successful,” she says. 

Three years ago, she had one creator on her team. Now she has built a “creator team” with 40 people.

“I work with the same group every single week and have worked with many of my creators for several years,” she says. 

“So they know exactly what Savannah is looking for—the type of styles, the type of feedback I’m going to have, and they master the groove of creating ads for different products every week.”

How do you find great UGC creators? 

You search for potential. 

“Everyone wants to know if I use a special tool or platform, but the reality is much more boring. I just immerse myself and search for creators on Instagram and TikTok, looking at trending videos, and scouting out up-and-comers with small followings typically under 10K followers.” 

How do you spot potential talent on TikTok or Meta? 

Look for the skills that are harder to train. 

“I’m looking for great energy on camera, that’s number one,” she says.

She also makes sure they have a really good bathroom or bedroom with great lighting that could be used for ads. 

“I almost feel like I’m a talent scout, like one of those people who used to walk around the mall saying ‘you should be a model,” she says. 

She’s looking through TikTok and scouting people who “don’t know they are going to be future advertising stars.” 

“Most of them aren’t aware of their potential, they aren’t advertising themselves as UGC creators or TikTok influencers—but I’m like, you have potential. I can train you.” 

4. Better ad briefing = better raw material 

Once she has found the right creator, she trains them from the ground up. 

“Many brands make the mistake of thinking—oh, we need to let the creators be creators and do their thing,” says Savannah. 

The creative strategist can’t leave things up to chance. You need to be very clear about your vision for the ad. 

Savannah sends the creator a stack of ad examples so they know what she is looking for. 

She trains them how to do a good unboxing ad, how to do a good try-on ad, and how to effectively deliver lines. 

She sends them shot lists with very specific instructions including visual ad examples with similar shots and the script lines they need to deliver. 

It gives them everything they need to deliver an authentic testimonial and be a great creator for brands. 

“You need to show them visually what you’re looking for,” says Savannah. “You need to communicate your vision in specific ways including storyboarding every shot.”

For example, Savannah will tell a creator things like: 

“I need a shot of you trying on a shirt in front of the mirror, that’s shot #1.”

“Next, you need to unbox it on your bed and make sure you are filming it at 5 PM when the light is coming through your window.”

She storyboards every shot and provides clip examples showing them ‘This is what a good try-on looks like, this is what a good voice-over sounds like.’ 

“The visual examples are key,” says Savannah. 

“You need to provide specific visuals and examples or there will be misalignment and endless revisions.” 

It’s important to note—that preparing the brief, the ad examples, and the shot list, takes up a lot of Savannah’s time. 

The creator’s filming is quick in comparison—it might take them 1-hour to nail the ad. 

But this is the critical task of the creative strategist. You are the brains behind it all and you are hiring the creator to execute and put it all together. 

You are paying the creator for their skillset of being great on camera and knowing how to film. 

“But you aren’t paying the creator to be the creative strategist. I need to be the one to do the storyboards, to figure out what shots and lines are required and to make sure the vision is executed.” 

5. Train your video editors, get better cuts 

Just as she scouts talent and trains creators, Savannah takes a similar approach with video editors. 

She uses LinkedIn to find video editors. And then invests in them over the long term. 

With repetition and training, they’ll become masters of performance creative. 

“My editors are doing the same thing over and over again in terms of the type of ad, the style, and they become in tune with what you’re looking for,” says Savannah.

“I also share access to Motion reports, helping them see ‘Oh these are the types of ads that are working well.’ Motion is very visual—so your editors start to learn what’s working in ads, what types of cuts work, the hooks that convert, and they get better every week.” 

By the time you’ve been working with them for six months or a year, they’re a powerhouse because they've done a thousand of these ads and they are continually learning by looking at the data. 

Managing a performance creative team 

Before you rush out to hire a bunch of people and simply be a middle manager, Savannah credits her success to truly understanding the different jobs of her team. 

“I think it all starts with doing it yourself. I used to star in my own UGC ads. I used to edit all the ads. I used to come up with all the ad concepts. You have to do the job so you can appreciate it.” 

Don’t worry—you don’t need to do those jobs forever. But getting into the weeds helps you understand the blockers other people are going to have when you ask them to execute your vision. 

“Because I’ve done all these jobs, now when I brief creators and editors, I can speak their language. Even learning editing at a basic level or filming a few of your own UGC ads, will help you communicate your vision and better coach talent later.” 

Savannah Sanchez shows that combining a clear vision with the right talent charges your creative engine. 

By meticulously briefing her team and providing precise visual examples that creators and editors need, Savannah guarantees the execution aligns with her vision and keeps everyone on the team contributing with their unique capabilities. 

Together as a team, your creative engine becomes unstoppable. More testing. More creative iterations. More insights to guide next week’s ads. And an ever-increasing ratio of winners. 

Get a tour of Motion’s creative analytics platform. We’ll even build free sample reports for you using live data from your TikTok, Meta, and YouTube ad accounts.

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James Mulvey
Head of Content

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