12th September 2017
When you’ve got researchers, copywriters, designers, and a campaign team, it’s all too easy to fall into a pattern of dealing with content stage-by-stage. First the campaign team put together an idea, then the research team put the project together, then the copywriters turn it into readable text, and then the designers make it look pretty. Right?
But if you take this approach, each stage is bottlenecked by the decisions of the previous workers involved.
If the campaign managers came up with an idea where the data turns out not to be there, you’re going to waste valuable time trying to research a project which just doesn’t have legs before you take it back to the drawing board and turn it into a bastardised version of a good idea.
If the copywriters turn the data into copy that’s merely punctuated by design elements, then you’re hamstringing the design team before they’ve even had a chance to get their hands on the piece. There’s so much they could do with a concept – it seems foolish to have them stuck down with the material that’s already in place.
Fixing the Problem
The solution to these issues is actually pretty straightforward – take a team approach to every project, whether it’s content marketing, designing a website, or creating marketing collateral.
Have each member of the team engaged from step one and have their input recognised before any of it is put into action.
Have the research team check the data’s there – or at least get the campaign managers to make sure there’s a decent source they can work from.
Make sure the copywriters work closely with the design team to build something that uses both elements to their maximum potential rather than fitting to one side or the other.
And when it comes to outreach, make sure that the outreach team, having already been involved in creating the story with a view to the hooks it could create, also knows the stories that have been created along the way – without a doubt, the copy, research, and design teams all have their own views about what makes the project interesting, and that’s a valuable resource for story hooks.
Putting it into Action
Kaizen have implemented solutions for these exact issues, and we use a number of ways to get the most out of each and every one of our projects.
We begin each of our projects with a brainwriting process, in which team members generate a series of ideas and write them down before passing them on to the next member in the team, who creates their own ideas and builds on the existing ones. It leads to a high rate of development and a deep ideation session.
But we’ve adapted this system from its original form in order to get a greater team coherence out of it. While we still use the brainwriting process, it’s now included in a larger ideation system, in which we do initial research for sources and plan out story hooks and then discuss the ideas rather than simply identifying which ideas we think might be worthwhile.
This allows members from each team to contribute their talents and value to any given project and help to shape it prior to the commencement of any actual work on its creation.
We’ve seen some great successes with this system and – as is always important, especially at Kaizen – making sure we continue to improve it with each insight we receive by repeating the process. Always take what works and scrap what doesn’t so your work gets better and better.
A Pinch of Salt
Bear in mind, however, that just because one section of the team has some negative thoughts about a project, that doesn’t mean they can’t be wrong. A team-led approach to content allows you to get insights into how it’ll interact with each stage of its creation, but you can never please everyone all the time.
Research might be hard to come by, but adapting the project to what data is available can sometimes help to create something unique.
Copywriters might be sad they don’t get to put in much of their pride and joy if you only let them have two words per page of the content – but pieces can often be heavily visual and be all the better for it.
And design elements sometimes aren’t the core of the piece but just help it along – it doesn’t mean it won’t be a huge success.
Not to mention, if you give everyone exactly what they want, chances are you’ll be building the next world wonder – which can really hit you hard in the budget!
The core thing to identify is that bringing your whole team on board for planning a project helps you realise what sticking points there may be and what resources you truly have available before you commit them – as long as you’re making full use of what you have, you’ll be getting the most out of your content. Remember – there’s no “I” in team.
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