A common myth is that the development of creative marketing content happens in a smooth linear fashion, thanks to the toil and ingenuity of an inspired designer, writer, illustrator, or other such right-brain maker. That idea is especially appealing to project managers and heads of marketing who'd like to oversee that ostensibly straightforward process with their spreadsheets and Gantt charts.

But the reality is less Gantt chart and more goat rodeo.

Ideas, drafts, and iterations are tossed around almost at random. Feedback and approvals go back and forth—and sometimes sideways. Unanticipated obstacles knock progress off course, and too often great ideas are thrown onto the dirt and trampled into dust. Inevitably, the goat wins.

It isn't easy to find a balance between the two extremes of super-efficiency and chaos.

Creators typically like to work on a more ad hoc basis, and understand that the twists and turns that creative projects take are often necessary to produce something great. Imposing an overly rigid structure might help tame the goat-led chaos, but it stifles the creative impulse. Yet not having a process at all leads to a mess, because creating great content is not just about that core creative services team.

From Simple to Complex

The most critical stage of any creative project is the collaboration stage. Creative collaboration begins when that initial brief, idea, sketch, wireframe, photograph, video footage, or other visual elements are shared and discussed with the wider marketing team. What was at first an insular, individual period of creation is now a team effort, and suddenly effective progress becomes much harder to manage.

Running the entire gamut of marketing programs and campaigns that can include videos, websites, print ads, email marketing, social media promotions, and so much more, requires way more input than a typical marketing department can provide. Marketing is more like the nucleus around which erratically orbit internal creatives, external freelancers, agencies, and production houses—not to mention the project clients from Product, Sales, and the exec team who will demand input and approval.

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image of Deborah Holstein

Deborah Holstein is CMO at EverString, provider of predictive marketing software and sales development solutions. She has 15+ years' experience in technology marketing leadership roles focused on B2B and B2C SaaS businesses.

LinkedIn: Deborah Holstein

Twitter: @dholstein