Clients often come to us with a specific idea in mind: a print or digital piece of content they want to create to solve a problem or fulfill a specific need. We encourage them to pause and first see what criteria they need the content to meet. Those criteria often lend themselves to a specific type of content.
We wanted to see if we could create a tool that would be helpful to our clients—a shortcut for our diverse client base to get sound content creation advice. A way to fasttrack that matching-criteria-to-content process.
At first, our idea was to create a checklist, which then evolved into a flowchart, or a “choose your own marketing adventure” of sorts.
We first sought advice from everyone in our office. We asked questions like:
- What are the pros and cons of a print piece?
- What are the benefits of digital content?
- How many PDFs have you downloaded in the past 30 days and never read?
- What are some initial questions you would ask a client if they’re determining whether an interactive piece or a static piece is a better fit?
We then distilled their advice and expertise in different areas (web, business development, design) into a series of questions aimed at leading our clients to specific content types. Using sticky notes, we began to color code the questions.
We grappled with questions like:
- Do you need metrics to provide audience insights?
- Will your content change over time?
- Is accessibility a factor?
- Do you need the “wow” factor of a print piece?
- Do you need people to discover this content organically (through SEO)?
Then we tried to lay out the questions in a path for clients to follow that would neatly tick off certain boxes and lead them to answers they sought. Every yellow question was met with a red “yes” or “no” answer, which led to another question or a final content solution (purple for print, teal for digital).
Then, we moved from print (sticky notes) to a digital format.
Finally, we took it back to the team for review. And that’s where things started to break down. Most questions didn’t lead to a simple “yes” or “no” switch that we could flip. And if they did, the answer didn’t lead to a specific content type. Or, the questions didn’t flow chronologically. Sometimes the same questions needed to be considered at multiple stages of the decision-making process.
When we tried to distill our advice—to follow the questions through to a specific content recommendation—we found there were just too many variables. Too many factors. Too many “but what if?” scenarios to fit into a nice, neat box.
We pondered: what was the breakdown? Clients come to us every day with content creation questions, and leave with a solution that meets or exceeds their needs and wants.
That’s when we realized—the best advice isn’t found in a can, a box, or at the end of a well-designed flowchart. In trying to create a flowchart, we almost deviated from one of our key principles: that we partner with every client to design highly-personalized integrated marketing experiences.
We believe the best marketing tool is the advice that comes from the collective knowledge of a team.
So maybe it’s not witty, it’s not shareable, and it will never become a social media sensation—but we’ll stick by it: flowcharts are fun and sometimes useful, but they can never rival the value that a face-to-face conversation can provide for your business.