When it comes to developing marketing materials, ever wonder what comes first? The graphic design or the written content? This chicken and the egg dilemma can be answered many different ways, but to produce a really great piece of marketing collateral, the answer is content.

It’s best to know what you want to say before beginning any type of graphic design. First, identify your audience, style of language and determine how broad or how detailed the messages should be. Essentially, you’re telling a story, so it’s important to get all of the story elements down on paper. It’s much easier and inexpensive to make changes on paper than making graphic design changes.

Content Strategy

The story determines the design format, and the best method for formulating the content is outlining how the content will be used. Creating a content strategy in a Word document is the easiest and most beneficial tool when developing marketing materials. Begin by identifying the corporate goals. The purpose of the marketing collateral is to support the business goals, so it’s important to be clear about what you are trying to achieve.

Next, identify your audience. These are the groups, organizations or industries you are communicating with. Be as specific as you can with your demographics because the finished product needs to be relevant to your audience. Ask yourself “who cares?”  As such, writing style and graphic layout targeted toward stay-at-home moms will be different from material directed at corporate executives.

The content strategy must also reveal key messages. These are the most important things you want to relay to your audience. If you could tell your audience only three things, what would they be? You really want to concentrate on the company’s differentiating factors.

Graphic Design Concepts

Superior marketing materials result when the writer and designer work together on a design concept. It’s best if they determine user experience first when determining the best design layout. In addition to deciding which words should pop or what content should be bulleted, the content team needs to create a design with a natural story flow that is easy for a user to read.

Design concept, also known as a mockup, is actually a graphic outline that can be easily modified to suit your needs. Once you have made a final determination about the design, then the artist can place appropriate images and insert the content that has been written.

If you’re working with a template, start with your content strategy first, then print the template to determine if it’s appropriate for the information you want to relay. Read it like your audience member would to ensure it’s effective.

Content Development Checklist

Follow these guidelines when developing new marketing materials:

  • Identify the business goals.
  • Identify the audience.
  • Identify how the marketing material will support the business goals.
  • Determine key messages.
  • Create a design concept.
  • Place artwork and content in the design.

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