Percolate’s Content Marketing Process
This documentation lays out Percolate’s approach to content marketing. This is the process the marketing department follows to move work from concept through execution, and can be used as a reference for campaign management, business process design, or content marketing / brand editorial. This system is designed for an integrated team of 10-20 members, including creative services, but can be adapted and scaled up or down to fit the needs of your business. While it’s not perfect, we’ve found it to be a smart, consistent, and efficient way to work, and continue to look for opportunities to improve and optimize it. While it helps if you implement this process alongside your use of [Percolate] (https://percolate.com), our hope is this document serves as a helpful reference and thought-starter for both customers and non-customers.
If you have any questions or suggestions for improvement, please email: email@example.com
Team Responsibilities / Accountability Matrix
Clear roles, responsibilities, and decision-makers minimize decision points and help work get done faster. We start by documenting each step (phase) of our content marketing or campaign process, as well as who’s involved at each step, and what we expect from them.
As you can see there are nine steps for each campaign, project, or piece of content.
Each step does not need to be observed and followed precisely, but each step should at least be considered, like a checklist. Before moving to the next step, whoever’s resposible for the project (or for moving it from its current step the next step) must make sure they’ve satisfied the requirements at that step (or that the requirements or the step itself doesn’t apply in this particular case).
Approach and Guiding Principles
We operate around a few guiding principles:
We segment our work (campaigns and content) by:
- Stage of the customer journey
- Business objective
- Target audience (the type of person we’re looking to reach and persuade)
- Geography (market, location, or city)
These segments are used to create matrixes that help determine content volume priorities and targets (i.e., how much brand awareness marketing are we going to create vs. direct response content?).
Make Sure Roles, Responsibilities and Process are Clear
Don’t leave people guessing how to do their job or who’s responsible for what. Lack of clarity creates inefficiency and mediocre work. Ensure through documentation, communication, and repetition that we establish the ‘swim lanes’ or guard rails for how work should be done. Leave enough room for creativity and trying to find shortcuts, but make sure everyone is oriented in the right direction first and knows how to work together before you start any work.
Be Human. Put Customers First. Don’t Talk About (or to) Yourself
Social proof and credibility is important, but our message should never be “we are so wonderful/established/massive, you should do business with us.” Our work must connect with each customer individually, communicating real benefits that matter to them or solving problems/needs they have. The worst thing we can do is describe product features in a way our audience doesn’t care about or understand. You cannot bore someone into a purchase. You can’t really help someone if you don’t identify with them and care about their challenge(s).
Here’s how we develop content and manage our marketing campaigns:
Step 1 – Brief
#####Owner Marketer or business lead (i.e., the associate, manager, or team lead who’s responsible for the business outcome, objective, strategy, or vision)
Responsibility: The marketer owns the brief development and makes sure that all stakeholder objectives are represented. The most important elements of the brief is to clearly and concisely frame the root problem in a way that inspires the team(s) responding to the brief to come up with a great solution (the proposal).
Brief template structure:
What is the business or creative problem we’re trying to solve?
Why does it matter?
Who are we trying to influence?
What do we want them to feel?
Like to any audience research, interviews, and/or profiles when applicable.
Why will they care about whatever we’re doing?
How are we helping them?
Message / Experience
What is the most important thing we’re looking to communicate?
How does this message tie back to the overall story or narrative we’re looking to further?
How does it relate to a product, brand, and/or consumer truth?
Call to Action
What action do we want recipients of the message to take?
Who owns the project and is responsible for approving the final brief, blessing the vision, making sure the project is a success, and taking accountability for the outcome?
Who needs to approve this brief or a specific step of the work before we can move on to the next step?
Project Lead Who will lead the proposal and development of this project?
Who will project manage it and ensure that the workspace is organized, resources are effectively managed, timelines are adhered to, and updates / results are properly communicated to stakeholders?
Project Team Who’s working on the project?
At times the Project Team is not defined until the scope is in place, and that’s totally fine.
Stakeholders Who are the stakeholders who need to be kept updated on the work?
These people might not be directly involved in the project, but will be kept up to date on important milestones.
Due Date / Deadline By when does this project need to be completed?
What are different flights or phases?
(Optional Additional Requirements and/or Inspiration)
If there are specific items that need to be completed (i.e., three 600×315 Facebook ads), include specs for those requirements here.
If you’re drawing inspiration from other sources or examples, include those here as well for guidance. Note any budget guidance, caps, or limitations.
You can download a PDF brief template here [note: gated download]
Step 2 – Proposal
#####Owner Creative, Project, or Campaign Lead / Director
The proposal outlines one or more proposed solutions recommended by the creative, project or campaign team.
Upfront the Marketer and Creative, Project, or Campaign Lead should agree how much time is needed for the proposal stage.
- Small projects up to 1 day / 8hrs (example: a blog post, email campaign, or small community event)
- Medium projects up to 3 days / 24hrs (example: a website redesign or launch)
- Large projects up to 5 days / 40hrs (example: a large, integrated campaign)
Proposal template structure:
#####Solution All project proposals have a written explanation of the solution. Depending on type of project this description may be supported by sitemaps, wireframes, storyboards, copy direction, concept for a design system, speaker proposal, photography direction, paid media plan, or mood board.
#####Call to action Outline how are we going to pursuade people to take our desired action.
#####Distribution plan Outline how we’re going to get this product in front of the people it’s meant for.
The proposal document forms the draft for finalizing the project’s scope.
All feedback on the proposal should be centralized, provided at the same time, and stored in Percolate. When necessary, a short review meeting should be convened by the project stakeholders to collect and agree on feedback before providing it to the creative or campaign team that responded to the brief. Iterate fast, provide feedback all at once, and come to a firm decision on the course forward as quickly as possible.
Step 3 – Scope
#####Owner Marketer or Business Lead
The scope defines what we are making, to the content inventory level. The Marketer or Business Lead reviews the proposal to ensure we are solving the problem we set out in the brief, we are creating everything that needs to be made, and all technical and operational feasibility of the proposed solution are agreed upon. Have any other stakeholders (legal, compliance, executive team, corporate communications) who should review the scope review and sign off on it as well.
The scope extends the proposal description to create team alignment and clarify on the following:
The scope inventories all deliverables, including a list of distribution assets such as ads, social media promotions, emails, videos, etc. These deliverables may have links to supporting spec materials, and will be tasked out with due dates in Percolate (or elsewhere). If there are sub-components of a deliverable (example: a video has a script, a storyboard, production stills, footage, b-roll, and different edits), list and task all of those out as well.
Once scope has been defined project budget can be allocated across executions to support production and distribution.
The scope states the key metrics we’re going to use to measure if the project was successful.
Agreed upon key milestones for the team to hit in order to deliver the project on time. If a media plan needs to be developed and media needs to be bought, begin completing these steps.
Step 4 – Development
#####Owner Project Lead
Development of the solution. This includes copywriting, script development, visual design, storyboards etc. Items that map out the entire experience of the project. Feedback and concepts are iterated on. If pre-development isn’t necessary, you can skip ahead to Step 5.
Step 5 – Final Development Review
#####Owner Marketer or Business Lead
Finished development work is presented to directors, executives, and stakeholders to get the green light for the project to move into the execution stage (final production). All feedback on the proposal should be centralized, provided at the same time, and stored in Percolate. When necessary, a short review meeting should be convened by the project stakeholders to collect and agree on feedback before providing it to the creative or campaign team that responded to the brief. Iterate fast, provide feedback all at once, and come to a firm decision on the course forward as quickly as possible.
The marketer is responsible to coordinate the review and ensure all feedback is given to the project team in timely manner. Further development work is carried out if required.
Step 6 – Production
#####Owner Project Lead
Awesome, now we’re getting extra creative and really making stuff. This is where all of the inventoried deliverables for the project or campaign are created. This step may include web development, graphic design, filming, printing, working with vendors, working with partners, or working with event production partners.
Step 7 – Q&A
#####Owner Project Lead
Making sure everything works. Based on the nature of project this could be browser based, proofreading, film review etc. The goal here is for the project team to ensure we are ready to distribute world class marketing executions.
Step 8 – Distribution
#####Owner Marketing Distribution Lead(s)
Now our channel leads execute their distribution and media plan(s). Channel owners own the distribution across all their defined channels, including both external and internal (examples: internal corporate communications, or communications to sales, field, or retail teams). On occasions they will collaborate with other teammates to support and complement their work.
Step 9 – Analysis
#####Owner Analytics Lead
How did we do? The Analytics Lead is tasked with compiling reports on the effectiveness of the project based on the measurement KPI’s defined in the project scope. These reports are shared with stakeholders, the project team and wider marketing team. For larger campaigns, fill out a post-mortem analysis document (or slide presentation) and convene a one hour meeting to review and discuss it. Always look for learning and improvement opportunities, as well as any ways future work can build on past work.