By Pam Didner published July 18, 2011

Content is King, Creative is Queen: How to Keep the King and Queen in the Whole Game

How do you break through the deluge of constant texting, e-mailing, Tweeting, ”Facebooking,” and online gaming to reach your audience in a meaningful way?

One answer: It’s not only what you deliver (content) but also  how you deliver it (creative). Even when you have solid product messaging and a good story line, how you deliver your content can make the difference between standing out among the message flood or getting lost in it.

The problem is that creative often happens after a team has completed the marketing strategy and product messaging, which leaves little time for creative development. So how do we keep focused on creative throughout the whole process of product development and launching?

Content and creative are part of the marketing strategy

Think of it this way: Compelling content is king, and creative development is queen, and the royal couple requires cultivation and time.

To make sure your team has enough time, explore content and creative development early in the strategy development phase.  While you need to begin with messaging, you don’t need to wait until it’s finalized to begin the creative process.

While I must adjust my approach as the Global Integrated Campaign manager at Intel based on the specifics of a campaign, here are the general steps I follow:

1. Write a preliminary one-page brief about halfway through the strategy development process. The brief should cover sales and marketing objectives, audience, product value prop and communications strategy.

2. Identify one key take-away about your product to seed the creative process. Ask yourself, “If you have 10 words to say about your product, what would they be?”

3. Brief the creative team and content creators, assuring they understand the messaging.

4. Jointly develop content and creative strategy between the creative and content creators.

5. Develop 3-5 creative recommendations.

6. Ensure content strategy and creative recommendations still align with the spirit of the final marketing strategy.

7. If budget allows, conduct focus groups or other research to confirm the effectiveness of creative and accompanying content.  If not, select the creative and content recommendation with the target audience in mind.

8. Incorporate content strategy and creative recommendations as part of overall marketing strategy.

It’s very challenging to incorporate content and creative in the early process of  marketing strategy development.  With so many moving pieces, sometimes the final marketing strategy changes so much from my preliminary briefing that I scrap the original creative and start over from scratch.  I learn to be nimble and flexible, and I modify the creative and content as the strategy develops.  But I believe that’s a risk well worth taking.

With the power couple of King Content and Queen Creative, you double your chances of developing content that will stand out like a brilliant crown jewel.

Do you have any suggestions for incorporating creative into your content marketing? Share your ideas in the comments below.

Author: Pam Didner

Pam Didner, selected as one of BtoB’s Top Digital Marketers in 2011, is the Global Integrated Marketing Manager for Intel. She has led Intel’s Enterprise product launches and worldwide marketing campaigns, and she has managed Intel’s main proprietary event, Intel Developer Forum, across nine countries. Didner is an expert in creating successful global marketing plans that meet local marketing’s needs. At Intel, Pam develops and manages Intel’s worldwide Enterprise and Small Business Strategies. She also provides strategic guidance on audience development, messaging architecture, editorial planning, content creation, media buys and social media outreach on a global scale. Pam is also a guest blogger for BtoB Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @PamDidner.

Other posts by Pam Didner

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  • Sharon Tanton

    Great post.  So important to get content and design working together. The greatest content in the world is lost if no one wants to read it, likewise creative with no substance is a waste of space.  Here’s something we wrote at Valuable Content – excuse the cheesy Royal Wedding link – we were being topical!

    • Pam Didner

      Great minds think alike.  Love your article.  I retweeted

  • Anonymous

    Important point that you make, keeping content and creative in the whole game. Shared ownership of the total message is what I’ve found works best.

    • Pam Didner

      Amen!  You are totally right.

  • Noël Ponthieux

    Fantastic! This is what’s so often missing from any discussion of content strategy and marketing: the role creative plays (or should play) in development as well as execution.

    As a copywriter, conceptual creative and content producer, I’m always at least mildly disappointed to be handed a brief with each step spelled out to the last comma. It gives every alternative suggestion from the creative team the taint of re-work rather than the charm of added value.

    Given the fluidity you expect in your process, I imagine you keep the creative very high-level in the strategic stage?

    • Pam Didner

      Noel, The role of creative is critical in the stage of strategy development.  Get creative engaged, when we develop the strategy is important, but it’s something that we always overlook…  Thanks for the comment.

    • Pam Didner

      Noel, The role of creative is critical in the stage of strategy development.  Get creative engaged, when we develop the strategy is important, but it’s something that we always overlook…  Thanks for the comment.

  • Caitlin Miles

    Thanks so much for this article Pam. It’s so important to strike the right balance between content & creative, like you said. We’re attempting the same thing at Prestimedia. I think we may be lacking a bit on the creative side, so I’m definitely bookmarking this article to reference later.

    • Pam Didner

      Caitlin-  Trust me. I totally get it.  It’s very hard to pull creative up-front.  I am still dealing with that on several project fronts.

  • Brendan Cournoyer

    I’d love to see a follow-up article with one or a few real-world examples. The article starts off assuming everyone already knows what the problem is and just jumps right in, which particularly for smaller companies, might not be true. A case study or examples of how content creation and the creative side can work both together and at odds would make for a cool, insightful article.

    • Michele Linn

      Hi Brendan,

      I passed along your comment to Pam. She is out of the office and
      is having issues with the Internet, but she asked me to respond on her behalf.

      “Thanks for your comments.   I will certainly publish a follow-up article with a real-world example.  In fact, I am working on a project right now which develop the strategy and the story line at the same
      time.  I am about to finish my August blog article.  Expect the follow-up article in September timeframe, OK?”

  • Ksaxton

    Love the ideas here. Of course messages have to be substantive. But, content marketers have to recognize what brand marketers have known – messages have to look good too. My favorite approach – pretend your message was a person. How would they look, act and talk? Would they be sarcastic like the Nanny, or a charismatic athlete or learned like a professor or supportive like a wingman? To me it’s not the King and Queen, but the king or queen (in all the possible definitions if queen)?

    • Pam Didner

      Love your idea of character building.  I want to see how I can apply your diea in the creative and messaging process.

  • Pawan Deshpande

    I could not agree with you more, Pam. King Content and Queen Creative
    must properly co-exist in order to effectively promote a brand via
    content-marketing. Content curation—the process of finding, identifying
    and sharing content—allows a marketer to do just that. King Content
    still is very much in charge, but curation empowers marketers to focus
    only on the best–most relevant and timely–material. Queen Creative
    comes into play as the marketer curates video, photo, and responses, as
    well as original postings or annotations on the third-party content.
    Through this strategy, a marketer and their brand achieves authority and
    with time, they establish thought leadership by being in-the-know in
    regards to the news, events and opinions shaping their industry. Thus,
    creativity and content, as they pertain to curation, cultivate a brand’s
    prominence. There are some great examples of how companies have made
    this work on my blog ( and and I will be talking more about it during my session at Content Marketing World.

    • Pam Didner

      Looking forward to listening to your speech.

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