Originally published on July 18th, 2011 in CMI.

How do you break through the deluge of constant texting, emailing, Tweeting, ”Facebooking,” and online gaming to reach your audience in a meaningful way?

One answer: It’s not only what you deliver (content) but also how you deliver it (creative).

Even when you have solid product messaging and a good storyline, how you deliver your content can make the difference between standing out among the message flood or getting lost in it.The problem is that creative often happens after a team has completed the marketing strategy and product messaging, which leaves little time for creative development. So how do we keep focused on creative throughout the whole process of product development and launching?

Content and creative are part of the marketing strategy

Think of it this way: Compelling content is king, and creative development is queen, and the royal couple requires cultivation and time. To make sure your team has enough time, explore content and creative development early in the strategy development phase. While you need to begin with messaging, you don’t need to wait until it’s finalized to begin the creative process. While I must adjust my approach as the Global Integrated Campaign manager at Intel based on the specifics of a campaign, here are the general steps I follow:

1. Write a preliminary one-page brief about halfway through the strategy development process. The brief should cover sales and marketing objectives, audience, product value prop and communications strategy.

2. Identify one key takeaway about your product to seed the creative process. Ask yourself, “If you have 10 words to say about your product, what would they be?”

3. Brief the creative team and content creators, assuring they understand the messaging.

4. Jointly develop content and creative strategy between the creative and content creators.

5. Develop 3-5 creative recommendations.6. Ensure content strategy and creative recommendations still align with the spirit of the final marketing strategy.

7. If budget allows, conduct focus groups or other research to confirm the effectiveness of creative and accompanying content. If not, select the creative and content recommendation with the target audience in mind.

8. Incorporate content strategy and creative recommendations as part of overall marketing strategy. It’s very challenging to incorporate content and creative in the early process of marketing strategy development.

With so many moving pieces, sometimes the final marketing strategy changes so much from my preliminary briefing that I scrap the original creative and start over from scratch. I learn to be nimble and flexible, and I modify the creative and content as the strategy develops. But I believe that’s a risk well worth taking. With the power couple of King Content and Queen Creative, you double your chances of developing content that will stand out like a brilliant crown jewel.


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