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Choosing Quality Over Quantity in Content & Design

Date published: September 01, 2015
Last updated: September 1, 2015

Design is readily available for businesses today, and technology makes it easy and fast to create. But with the volume of branded communications companies are producing, it can be easy to forget the actual point of design: to communicate.

We sometimes forget that people are on the other end of everything we produce — people who are busy and have short attention spans. While design can produce beautiful pieces for a brand, the people who see it probably don’t care.

That’s why some brands could use less “marketing” and more communication.

The tools for producing marketing collateral are now faster, cheaper and easier to use. Designers have instant and affordable access to endless galleries of stock photography. With analytics, we can report on nearly anything in an attempt to measure our success in real time. “Instant” has become our culture.

But we’re trading in our long-term success for short-term reporting. In an attempt to codify ROI and prove marketing’s worth, we’re confusing volume for impact.

The truth is, some brands are hiding in the numbers.

Traditional Marketing: Quantity Over Quality

Traditionally, marketing has been about messaging and frequency: Keep the product top of mind through positioning and regularity so people remember it when it’s time to buy.

The entire ad industry was founded on this model of thinking. Agencies were paid commissions based on how much media they bought, so they sold as much as they could. The volume of the media buy was central, and agencies gave away creative as part of the purchase. (That is, until David Ogilvy changed the industry by adopting the idea of the billable hour, but that’s another story.)

Quantity and frequency will always be part of the industry, but what’s becoming more important for marketers is relevance.

A Changing Industry

The industry has changed. Instead of customers being on the receiving end of a one-way conversation (where they’re bombarded with ads and messaging), they’re now able and excited to choose brands that are aligned with their values. A well-crafted, well-presented message can go much further than a large volume of messages nobody cares about.

Marketers should care about quality and relevance more than ever because audiences have more power than ever; they can turn off anything that isn’t important to them. An agency’s approach should be about projecting its brand’s values, not just its products’ features.

And it’s not just about how we work for clients; it’s about how we sell ourselves. There are more marketing and advertising agencies than ever before — all trying to attract new clients by claiming they’re the most creative. After a while, the messages run together, and it’s hard to tell them apart.

Agencies have a chance to build more value by showing how they can help make brands more relevant to buyers. Here’s how:

Ask yourself what your best friend would think of your work.

If you showed whatever you’re creating to a buddy of yours, would he understand it? Would he know what to do next? Would you have to explain it to him? If your friends don’t get it or don’t want to read it, neither will your audience.

Design is about communication. The work should be quickly and easily understood — even in seemingly complicated B2B markets or in industries like healthcare and financial services.

Don’t reinvent your identity with each piece.

Marketing based on messaging should be easier to make and measure. Unfortunately, many brands don’t have brand foundations other than some graphic standards, so they find themselves reinventing their language with every execution.

Investing the time to build a brand platform based on messaging makes things easier and faster to produce, and it doesn’t dilute your relevance over time.

Stop reacting and start planning.

A lot of marketing pieces are just reactions to the immediate needs of an organization. Almost every brand has day-to-day urgencies come up that seem to justify the creation of a marketing piece.

While immediate needs will always appear, making your marketing more planned and strategic will ensure quality. If your pieces work in harmony, you have an opportunity to control your message and build relevance with your audience. Try to think six months ahead and look for ways to use marketing to build your reputation with your audience. In short, act with intent.

Choosing quality over quantity doesn’t necessarily mean less frequency. It just means a lot of thought and care will go into the initial message, ensuring that communication is the foundation for all future marketing.


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