Marketers know that the need to create great content will only increase in 2017. Doing things the usual way—the way everyone else does it—may help you tick the quantity box, but you'll only fall short on quality... and that won't drive your results.

For agencies and marketing departments, 2017 must be the year to change the way content creation happens.

Use these five content creation tips to break away from the crowd and deliver results that go beyond simply being on time and on budget.

1. Focus on your best idea

It's tempting to pad out the presentation of your strongest idea with additional suggestions.

Some agencies, for example, believe it helps clients appreciate the agency's value when they can see how much effort and thought the agency has put in. But Nathan Bobik, creative director at video agency Shot Cut Entertainment, thinks that's a mistake: "We prefer not to pitch five ideas and ask the client to pick their favorite. Instead we focus on the one idea that we think is going to be successful. If they don't like it, we'll use their feedback to develop the idea into something that works for us both."

2. Forget the rules: Do what's right for your story

There are lots of supposed best-practices for what makes visual content successful, such as using faces in images or considering 30 seconds as the optimal length of a video.

But people ultimately respond to great stories, and Rob Finch, creative director at Blue Chalk Media, believes that storytelling should be the main driver of everything you do: "The Internet has changed everything. You no longer have to fit into an established way of doing things. With video the traditional legacy parameters of 60 seconds or 27½ minutes is gone. Now you should just produce whatever works for the story."

3. Distinguish between discussion and direction

Even for key decisions when providing feedback on creative work developed by designers, video producers, and writers, reviewers often err on the side of politeness.

Tim Rose, senior video production manager at collaboration solution Polycom, is happy to engage his clients in debate and discussion over the creative direction of a video. But when something is simply not up for discussion, complete transparency is the only option: "I understand that the brands I work with may have very specific style guide requirements or that my client's boss has a thing for the color blue. Using language like 'This needs to be...' when leaving comments on a video will make it clear to me that your feedback is a directive, and save us both a lot of time."

4. Don't keep social media in a silo

Most businesses now understand the value of social media, and they have dedicated resources to ensure a steady stream of content for their various networks.

This effort is often separate from the company's other marketing activities, but Lynette Lim, principal at marketing agency Douglas Creative, advises her clients to incorporate social into every campaign and promotion: "Good social media integrates with wider marketing campaigns, and at the best businesses they're becoming less differentiated. I used to work in traditional marketing for years and then started doing social media. But now the two are merging and we urge our clients to bring them together."

5. Look to your vendors for new ways of working

The bigger the business, the more likely it will have a set process that it expects external contractors and agencies to follow, whereas smaller businesses are often early adopters of innovative processes.

As Britton Hennessy, engagement specialist at digital agency Drake Cooper, demonstrates, an individual contractor can be a valuable source of new ideas and tools to boost productivity at your business: "A photographer introduced us to a new collaboration tool that provided us with one simple place to view, comment on, and approve the hundreds of images he was sending us. It made a huge improvement to our process and allowed us to launch assets in a fraction of the time."

6. Review your work in different environments

Marketers and their creative teams often experience the work they've produced only in perfect environments. They view images on top-end monitors and listen to music on high fidelity speakers. But, as audio engineer Chad Wahlbrink acknowledges, that's not how most of your audience will experience what you create: "Hearing the music outside of the studio is important. I often take mixes into my car or on bike rides. I usually make sure I hear them through the iPhone speaker, too, because that's how so many people listen to music now. It's good to know how the music translates onto different systems."

* * *

Innovative thinking, processes, and tools are how forward-thinking teams and agencies with limited resources meet the demand for content without sacrificing quality. How will your business stay ahead of the content crush?

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Six Content Creation Tips for Big Results: The Contrarian Approach

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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