The thing about writing is that almost everyone can do it to one degree or another. And they’ve been doing it for most of their lives. So, it’s only natural that people expect professional writers to churn out great marketing content very quickly.
But, most people don’t realize that writing is just one of several steps along the path to great marketing content.
A Strong Process Leads to Strong Content
The key is to think about marketing content like anything else that must be created — whether that involves making a meal, developing a smartphone app, or building a house. In every case, executing the right steps in the right order is the only way to guarantee a high-quality end product that’s on-time and on-budget.
Here’s a look at the content development process we follow here at the agency to ensure our clients get the best-possible content. There are smaller steps within each of the bigger steps, but you’ll get the idea.
Step 1: The Kickoff
This stage is all about logistics. We need to confirm what type of content is needed for which target audience, when, and how it will be used.
Step 2: Review, Research, and Interview Prep
Now that the logistics are confirmed, it’s time for the writer to review background material, research additional information, and prepare a list of questions for a more detailed briefing and interview with a subject matter expert (SME).
Step 3: Detailed Briefing and Interview
We’ve all read content that’s vague, unfocused, or doesn’t resonate and wondered “who wrote this, um… stuff?”
While the writer contributed to the problem, it’s quite possible they either had no briefing at all, or a very poor one. As the saying goes, garbage in, garbage out.
Before they can write really great content, the writer must fully understand the story to be told and the key points that comprise it. The detailed briefing is the writer’s opportunity to interview the SME and get the information and insight they need to gain that understanding.
To ensure accuracy and allow the writer to focus on the conversation, we always record and transcribe these conversations.
Step 4: The Outline
While clients are often anxious to get to the writing stage, taking the time to develop a content outline for client review dramatically reduces the potential for nasty surprises down the road.
The outline identifies the:
- Overall content theme and angle
- Sections the content will be broken into
- Theme and angle for each section
- Key points that will be covered in each section
This step is particularly crucial for longer documents such as white papers and e-books, and for projects, such as websites, that involve multiple discreet, yet connected, pieces of content. In a video project, this is the storyboard stage.
Step 5: Writing
We’re finally here. Ironically, there’s not much to say. Each writer has their own process and they need to stick with whatever approach works for them.
Because the writer is working from an approved outline, they’ve already thought through the storyline and know which points to make in each section. They can keep their focus on the writing and complete this step far faster than they otherwise could.
Step 6: Review and Revision
Content must be reviewed internally then thoroughly proofread by a writing quality assurance specialist before it’s sent to the client for review.
Again, the approved outline is our friend. The content should be very close to what the client wants and is expecting, so reviews should be pretty smooth. Here at the agency, we’re often able to finalize content after one round of client review and revision.
Step 7: Design
Great marketing content is a combination of engaging text and appealing layout. But, the design is always tailored for the story we’re telling, never the other way around. The designer uses the storyline to guide layout decisions and image selection so the design supports and enhances the text.
Like the outline and the content drafts, the client must also review and approve the layout and design.
Structure Increases Efficiency
Following these seven steps helps us create great marketing content in a very streamlined and efficient way. Our clients can avoid all of the time, costs, effort, and agony that inevitably accompany an unstructured approach to content development.