You have likely heard a quote or two on the value of preparation and planning. My favorite comes from Benjamin Franklin: “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” In one of our recent planning sessions, our consultant pushed us to identify our proven process. A business’ proven process is the time-tested process that, when carefully and consistently followed, produces excellent work.
Over the years, our team has grown, departments have formed, and the scale of projects have increased. With our attention diverted, we had never defined the process we take each project through.
Because our work is in the creative space, we found this planning process especially valuable – turning an abstract process into 5 concrete steps helped align our team and better communicate expectations with clients.
Why Processes Matter
Over the last 12 years, we have worked on tens of thousands of projects for hundreds of clients, and every project is unique. Our clients represent every industry, vary in size, and have needs ranging from a small website feature to a multi-year ad campaign. The variety of our day-to-day is what makes our work so enjoyable.
Despite the diversity of need and client makeup, we have found we do our best work when a project carefully follows our five-step creative process.
As a full-service marketing agency, it is common for 5 or more team members to touch one project. For example, the creation of a company booklet involves the following team members:
- An Account Manager works with the client to understand the vision for the project
- A Copywriter interviews the client and produces the content
- A second Copywriter peer reviews the content
- A Designer creates the booklet design
- The Creative Director and the Account Manager review the content and the design before submitting to the client
With so many moving parts on a single project, you can see how a defined process guides each step. Here are a few other ways our proven process helps ground our work:
- It becomes a guide for the client relationship
- It aligns our team
- It sets clear expectations for everyone involved
- It creates accountability for our work
- It provides structure to a creative process
M&R Marketing’s Five Step Proven Process
Here is a look at our five-step process. This process is repeated over and over with our team, is explained in proposals, and is used to evaluate outcomes.
- Discover: M&R will discover your story, values, target market, and goals
- Strategize: M&R will develop a strategic solution based on your needs
- Communicate: M&R will cascade your vision and project goals to our team
- Create: M&R will create and launch your strategic solutions to market
- Evaluate: M&R will evaluate the solutions to determine if goals were achieved
Step 1: Discover
Our first step is discovery. This is more than a simple phone call with a new client; we dig deep into their story, values, target market, and goals. As we learn about their business and what makes it succeed, we are better equipped to create a marketing strategy that both aligns with their vision and helps take them further down the road.
Because the creative process can be subjective, it’s vital to meet with the client to better understand their vision for the project and their market. The creative must appeal to both the client and to the client’s target audience.
After the discovery process, the next step is to strategize the creative solution.
Step 2: Strategize
During this process, our creative team, led by the client’s account manager and our creative director, will develop a strategic solution based exclusively on the client’s needs. This strategy will often involve other M&R team members and they will use their collective experience to set a strategy.
After the strategy is created internally, it is presented to the client for feedback and revisions. Once approved, it is ready to be communicated to the full team.
Step 3: Communicate
As a full-service agency, multiple team members work on every project. Before creative begins, it is important that everyone understands the client’s vision and the project goals. This step happens during a project kick-off meeting led by the Account Manager and Creative Director. The goal is to provide the full team all the information obtained in the first two steps – discovery and strategy.
With a deep knowledge of who the client is and their goals for the project, our team is well equipped to move to the next step – creation.
Step 4: Create
With client and project information properly communicated in step 3, the assigned team is prepared to create. The in-house team is carefully chosen based on experience. For clients using M&R for multiple projects, we will assign a team to their projects. This takes the discovery process even further. As the creative team works on more projects for the client, they gain a deeper understanding of their brand, market, and goals.
Step 5: Evaluate
When we started M&R in 2008, our tagline was “innovation with purpose.” That tagline highlighted our belief that creative work must be grounded in strategy. You can have the most beautifully designed piece or the most carefully scripted campaign, but if it does not effectively capture the attention of the target market and convert, it’s of little value.
An important and foundational element in the creative process is evaluation. By knowing the project goals before we create, we’re able to begin with the end in mind and understand the metrics we will use to measure success.
What’s Your Process?
Whether you have identified your proven process with pen and paper or not, it likely exists. As we have found, the time invested in planning is well worth it. At M&R, we use the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) to guide our business systems, and developing a proven process was one of the foundational steps in implementing EOS. We encourage you to carve out time with your executive team and start identifying your proven process.