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Goat Rodeo or Gantt Chart: Five Better Ways to Creative Content

by Deborah Holstein  |  
January 20, 2017

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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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

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  • by Tony Madejczyk Fri Jan 20, 2017 via web

    #5 really resonated with me. We have many team players who don't get enough credit for contributing to our successes. (And they're not always writers or designers.) I would also like to add this: avoid having too many cooks. This tends to water down big ideas to concepts that look and feel like old news. We rotate team leaders and advocates for projects who gently remind us of what we are trying to do with a particular offer or presentation.

  • by Deborah Holstein Wed Jan 25, 2017 via web

    Tony - great point about finding ways to give credit to everyone who is part of a creative collaboration! there are so many unsung heroes. I really like your idea of rotating leads for projects to keep gently nudging the team back on the path toward breakthrough creative and not accept a watered down vanilla idea.

  • by Tony Madejczyk Wed Jan 25, 2017 via web

    I forgot to mention that team leads are responsible for presenting a/b test results for their concepts. This wasn't easy at first, because so many creatives just wanna be creative, but anchoring future opinions on "what works, what doesn't work" helps inform our decisions and conversation. It can also give you the courage to try different things.

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