The internal battle between creative departments and everyone else is far too familiar. It isn’t personal.  Right?! The disconnection is frustrating for everyone. But, if we pull ourselves out of the nitty gritty situational circumstances of it all, we can narrow it down to one thing: process, or, lack thereof.

The steps for a creative process can get sticky but hang with us and we will help break it all down for you.

In this article, you will learn

Problems to inspire creative process clarity

It isn’t personal. It’s process. 

Without a dialed creative request and fulfillment workflow for content operations and creative initiatives, inspired energy is instead earmarked with stress and chaos. We can talk about burnout, workloads, bottlenecks, and our personal fav, holding the creative hostage, but these debates ignore the actual problem. 

Creative systems and request processes often take a backseat to performance, creativity, and conversion. That is a reality. But, the backbone of consistent brand delivery and content efficiency begins with a solid creative process. 

The Content Marketing Institute reported 66% of marketers are asked to do more with the same resources. That is, multiply output without providing additional investment to make that possible. What happens to creativity when you are asked to do more without additional support?

80% of people reportedly feel increasing pressure to be productive rather than creative at work.


It is hard to prioritize creativity when you are flush with creative requests and always behind. How is it even possible to do more and meet demand without a functioning and cooperative creative process to back it? This state of overwhelm creates that chaotic environment and, more often than not, creates tension between designers and creatives, and, well, everyone else.

Now, before you assume that the pressure to produce is more important than creativity, pause for a moment, and consider this statistic.

81% of marketers value creativity and craft in content creation.

Content Marketing Institute 2022

The creative touch matters. If content reigns supreme and creativity adds value, then your designers need to not only produce content, they need to produce creative content. 

The intersection between production and creativity demands a smooth process. A well-oiled creative machine supported and trusted by your organization. 

Want to say goodbye to that chaotic creative process? Read on! 

We know success for your business is more easily achieved when your teams are working in sync with each other. The kind that simply works with productive progress sitting front and center. The creative and cross-functional teams can’t just co-exist, they have to collaboratively function as one in order to meet demand and produce quality work. 

Collaboration over competition.

This collaboration over competition mentality drives growth for your organization and ignites the kind of energy that inspires creative thinking. At some point or another, your team has likely suffered from creative process friction points. The good news is that it’s fixable. 

Bring an open mind and perhaps a pencil sharpener. If you are like us, you love to write things down. 

Why the chaos?

Dissecting the disconnections 

Whether you are a creative director, designer, marketer, or content supporter, it’s possible you regularly suffer from stress dreams about the daily pain of design requests. We all have them, so let’s talk about them.

As a designer, you are buried, and the requests upon requests never seem to dissipate. No one seems to understand how much time it takes to do anything, and why should they? While you are spending your days in Illustrator and InDesign, cranking away at production design requests that empty your creative cup, your team thinks you are scrolling through Pinterest. 

As a Creative Director or Marketing Manager, you are fielding complaints about slow turnarounds, while trying to support your team members that seem to be working double time to meet demand. You asked for visibility and are constantly interrupted to answer questions on project status and estimated timelines. To make matters worse, resources are limited, and uncertain economic environments mean less budget to hire or outsource. Visibility feels impossible and you want to support your team when they say they are working hard. 

Marketers and sales teams have pipeline initiatives and sales goals to meet. They need content and creative collateral that will stand out and attract new buyers and customers. They submit a request (assuming your organization has a formal process for that) and are met with the question they hate the most, “when is this due?” If they answer candidly, it would be, right now. It is always due, right now, but instead, they respond with “how much time do you need?” 

Now, you may not have a creative request process in place at all. This is a safe space. No judgment. Sometimes other priorities take precedence. Or, maybe your team is small, and a process hasn’t seemed necessary? 

53% of organizations have small (or one-person) content and marketing teams.

Content Marketing Institute 2022

This means that creative production to support content and marketing initiatives for half of organizations falls on the shoulders of small teams. It may seem obvious but we’ll say it anyway. Successful teams have to function as a team in order to get s*** done! The steps of the creative process may not have been top of mind when you got started, but with high demand and that dysfunctional chaos we mentioned earlier, it is necessary. 

So, how do you help a creative and design team of one or a few from fielding request after request? How do you stop the scrambling and the constant struggle to prioritize? How do you make time to produce effectively?

How do you fix the mess?

Let’s start with the basics.

  1. Understand the roles of your team members and their level of ownership of projects
  2. Define the types of projects that require a creative request
  3. Build the creative request form and establish a process for request submission

Process efficiencies abound when you start with the basics. It may seem elementary but role clarity and responsibilities make it so much easier to deliver on requests more effectively. Let’s walk through it, step by step. 

STEP ONE: Define roles and responsibilities.

Understand the roles of your team members and their level of ownership of creative requests.

Creative requests often vary in scope; the responsibilities and level of involvement of requesters and designers will change from project to project. This has to be communicated clearly and everyone has to be on the same page. 

Here are some questions for you to ask as you are determining who should own the project and how to filter responsibilities throughout your team.

Who is driving the project? Who is delivering the strategy? Who owns which pieces and parts, and ultimately, who is responsible for getting the project launched?

Some questions to ask:

Ownership can vary from project to project and as your team thinks about who owns the project as a whole, you should also be thinking about how these roles and responsibilities could shift per project.

Requests will come in with project details, but that does not necessarily mean that the requester will own the entire project or visa versa.

Here are a few examples of projects and how the areas of ownership could vary:

types of creative requests and project ownership

STEP TWO: Define the types of projects.

Define the types of projects that require a creative request and agree on which ones don’t. 

This conversation can easily cause a bit of friction but at the end of the day, the goals should be universal:  to ensure the best outcome for every project

Goals to keep in mind:

  1. Achieve process efficiency
  2. Prioritize clear and concise communication
  3. Elevate creativity
  4. Aim to drive results that move the needle

Ultimately, only you can determine which projects warrant a request. But generally speaking, if you can put projects into buckets, like “requires graphic design support” or “creative tagline needed” then these parameters will help you decide if it should funnel through your creative and design team. 

Creative request criteria

The best part? As you think through the scope of the project to decide if it warrants a request, you’ll likely also develop a clearer plan for creation and delivery in the process, which results in a more thoughtful deliverable altogether.


Define the form and process for creative requests. 

There are a hundred different ways to execute a creative request. There are also many mediums to communicate the details of the request. We’ll touch on a few different methods of delivery, but we want to dive deep into the details of the request itself in order to ensure success for both the requester and the creator. 

Whether we are talking about design or copywriting, only the requester knows their full intention and goal for their project. If the requester wants the end deliverable to meet their expectations, they have to take what is in their head and communicate it. They also need to put on a different lens and understand that when you approach a project from the perspective of creative and design, the eye is going to be laser-focused on different things. 

This is a good thing! 

invite diverse perspectives to your creative projects

Now that we’ve covered the steps to build a foundation for a creative request process, let’s move on to the creative request form itself and the “how-to” in fulfilling those requests. 

Creative Request Process 

Things to include and how to develop a process around the request itself

In this section, you will learn how to build an effective creative request form and how best to distribute that information to your design team. Whether you are spearheading the creative request process reformation or you are on the receiving end of some lackluster creative requests, the bottom line is, the process should help your team work better, not harder. 

With that in mind, here’s tip #2. 

creative requests should balance ease of use with efficiency

Remember, the requester is moving quickly and they are hoping for a creative magic wand to quickly deliver exactly what they need in as little time as possible. At the same time, designers want comprehensive information so they don’t have a bunch of edits or need to start over because they were missing crucial information. This intersection is where the rubber meets the road. If your request process is taking too long to complete, it needs to be revised. If your designers are consistently missing the mark on projects, you should take a look at adding more detail to the request form. 

Typically though, it is better to build your initial creative request with a lean towards too much detail rather than not enough. You can always pull it back if you find that certain fields are not applicable. If it seems like too much information, this could mean there will be less follow-up needed for the project. 

Remember, the request should cover a multitude of lenses. It answers questions for the creative brain and serves as an opportunity for the requester to think through their project. 

Your request should encompass as much detail as needed to ensure success. Fast-paced environments don’t always have the opportunity to chat it out so build your request form with that in mind. 

Whether you refer to it as a creative brief, project brief, or creative request, the purpose is the same: detail everything needed to ensure a successful outcome. 

Below, we’ve outlined elements for you to consider when creating your creative request. Take them as suggestions and be sure to think about your organization’s needs as well.  

Ask yourself:

Contents of a creative request

It’s all in the details

What do you need?

First things first, what do you need? Design? Copy? Both? Make sure this is clearly indicated. 

Project Scope

In an ideal world, you’ve been around the block once or twice and can measure if this is a heavy lift or a light one. If you aren’t sure, that’s okay. But, if you know, let your team know. We like when projects are rated so right out of the gate, expectations are set that this project is either a big one or a task with an easier turnaround. 


This measure can easily get skewed, so it’s important that your culture is built on trust and respect. With everyone doing their part, it is likely busy, and that busy means, not every project can be given a high priority tag. 

Every project is important, but does every project need to be completed right NOW? Is this a project that will impact growth immediately? Is this a revenue driver with a more predictable outcome? Is this an idea that you are testing? 

Decide on a universal weighting for your projects, determine what measures matter to prioritize them, and then honor the scale. Rank your project from low to high, understanding that priority rankings do not equal the level of importance. It all matters, but every project requires an investment of time, and it is your responsibility to help your team execute wisely.


From a requester’s perspective, they should buffer in additional time so their date can be flexible depending on the workload of the creative team. A guide for harmony? Work back from your drop dead date with some wiggle room to allow for shifts in timing for both parties. Not possible? Well, that sounds like a high-priority project, and that happens! The goal is to make the creative request form for the ideal state. This doesn’t mean there won’t be exceptions to the rule. 

Details, details. Get specific. 

You want to make sure to include all design and copy parameters. If you are asking for copy, how many characters? Maybe it’s for an ad, and you only need a one-liner. Perhaps you’ve taken a stab at the copy already, and you just need an edit for voice. Be specific. 

Requesting design? Take the time to find out the specs. This can easily cause a bit of a communication breakdown because non-designers don’t always understand what designers want in terms of specs. It is okay not to know, but make an effort to find out. More often than not, your designers can help you nail down these details, but it saves tons of time if you come into a project with these already sorted out. What file type are you looking for? PDF? JPG? These are the types of questions your designer will ask you, so drop them as a line item in your request form so you don’t forget!

Specify your audience. 

Who is this going to be looking at this end deliverable? Is it internal? External? Is it for a specific client or customer? Perhaps it needs to be tailored for a particular group within your target audience. Be specific. This information matters to you, and it will matter to your designer.

How will this be delivered? 

Is this for social? Website? Print? All of the above?  Indicate the channel and placement as that will guide the design. It may also indicate multiple files with different sizes. Be clear and cover all of your bases

Should this be made into a template?

Templates will allow the requester to execute new iterations and be more agile. Indicate if this should be made into a template so the requester can make adjustments moving forward. 

Your creative request form should include:

  1. Type of request
  2. Project Scope
  3. Priority rating
  4. Deadline
  5. Design specifications
  6. Copy parameters
  7. Target audience
  8. Distribution and/or channel

Methods to submit creative requests 

Where should my creative request live and how can my team access it?

If possible, it can be helpful to leverage existing systems that are already in place to help facilitate your creative request process. That said, sometimes, existing systems are not reasonable solutions, and making a new process work within an existing system creates even more challenges. 

Ultimately, in its most basic form, you will want to make sure that you have these two components to ensure success:

A Form (Google Form, Jotform, etc). 

If your team already uses project management software like Divvy HQ for content or Monday as a catch-all, you can create a job form or request within the platform. 

A place to see all the requests submitted.

You want to make sure every request that comes through is dumped into a format that your team can access and download. If you are using a form, you want it to drop into a sheet or template that gives you full visibility. Bonus points if you can then sort it by priority and due date. This is going to make life easier for everyone, so the method for fielding these requests has to work within your existing workflow and work for your entire team.

Fulfilling creative requests

Sprint mentality to get through your creative to-dos 

The to-do list is always growing and more often than not, it is a sign that your team is producing the kind of work that will grow your business. The requests create formality and provide structure to get the project done well. That said, especially if your design team is small, it can feel overwhelming and sometimes impossible to keep up with the requests. While there are many methods for attacking the list of to-dos, we are going to focus on the sprint mentality. 

84% of marketing and creative teams prefer a sprint mentality to their approach to work.

Hochschule Koblenz, 2020

While this particular study focused on Scrum, the benefits of a sprint approach are universal.

Benefits of Sprints:

  1. Prioritizes projects
  2. Creates more focused to-do lists
  3. Gives a timeline for project completion
  4. Creates accountability
  5. Visibility on workload
  6. Factors time as a resource
  7. Creatives a structure for project planning and execution

The sprint approach focuses on what can be accomplished within a specific time period. The mentality ensures follow-through and condenses and prioritizes larger lists into shorter, more doable chunks. 

It provides visibility for requesters as they will know if their request has been dropped into the sprint for that period of time. This looks like a request submission by X day, which means it will be put in the cue for the following week’s or month’s sprint depending on your organization’s sprint parameters. 

sprint time for creative process efficiency

If your organization has a smaller team, it is likely that your designer(s) is turning around requests in days not weeks. If that is the case, you can make the length of your sprints shorter, or plan to break up the work in stages to accommodate these shorter turnaround times. 

This would look like stage one tasks completed in the first half of the week and stage two tasks completed in the second half of the week. By breaking up the work in stages, you can keep your sprint review meetings to once a week, rather than meeting again mid-week to recalibrate to-dos. 

If your company follows a request for proposal process, like many agencies, you may have a monthly sprint for these larger projects, in addition to a weekly sprint for the smaller design requests. 

At the end of the day, the guidelines will need to be determined by your team and function best for the kind of work you are executing. Consider the buckets of requests and priority ratings, then group projects together so you have clear marching orders with a plan to accomplish them. 

creative process success in realistic timelines

Sprint review time is not the time to let your ego dictate your to-dos. If you are able to do more in the time frame allotted, awesome! If you can’t or even under-deliver, this will help with future resource planning and set appropriate expectations for deadlines moving forward. 

Another sweet little bonus that comes with sprints is that feeling of accomplishment. The one that individuals need in order to keep their energy levels flying high. Burnout has a million contributing factors, but one that shouldn’t be overlooked is when the workload feels unmanageable designers are more likely to struggle. There is a reason why so many people create to-do lists and include things they’ve already done just so they can get the slight dopamine kick from checking it off. 

It feels good to get work done! Set yourself up for success by taking the time to gather all of the to-dos and make a plan to get it done in chunks. This organized process for completing tasks will also give teams room to add in last-minute requests, bump certain deadlines up or down, and work more effectively.

Ways to ensure creative collaboration 

Request formalities shouldn’t take the place of divergent brainstorming

It’s normal to worry that more formal requests and processes will remove opportunities for collaboration, especially if you work on a smaller team. While it may seem like the process eliminates collaboration, the reality is that the two should be working in step with the other. Formally submitting a request for work does not mean that stakeholders are removed from the creation process. Sometimes, yes, the request may be straightforward enough that collaboration isn’t required, but ultimately, a functioning team can balance both. 

Here are a few ways to ensure creative collaboration continues:

1. Plan a standup meeting and sprint review meeting

Once you decide on your sprint timeframe, set up a standing meeting where requests are reviewed as a team. In this meeting, you will look at the projects submitted, hopefully, ranked by priority, and determine which items will fall into that dedicated sprint. While this meeting isn’t for sharing ideas, it does bring the designers and requesters together and aligns everyone on what will be worked on and when the finished work will be completed. 

Additionally, it may make sense for you to set up a standup meeting in the middle of the sprint just to check in. This meeting shouldn’t be long and instead should be focused on what (if any) questions there are on projects. It also gives the team an opportunity to have visibility on how the projects are progressing and designers can get quick input. 

2. Share your unique perspective with confidence 

This is a less formal way to collaborate but just as crucial to creating a collaborative environment at your organization. Use your existing communication channels and share your ideas. One idea can spark thousands more and sometimes simply sharing something you saw or a half-baked idea can become a new initiative owned by your entire team. 

3. Set up a 15-minute brainstorming session.

Meetings are sometimes hard to schedule, but it is likely that 15-minutes can be found on calendars to come together and have a focused moment for brainstorming on projects. These are a minimal time commitment and an opportunity to mutually contribute. These quick meetings can help the requester feel like a contributor and provide the designer with even more context for the request itself. 

4. Collaboration requires communication. Just talk. 

Sometimes, talking to each other feels like it has to be formal. It doesn’t. A team that talks to each other works better together and the best way to ensure collaboration is to keep the communication channels open and flowing. 

Key benefits when your creative process is running smoothly

Work smarter not harder

Whether this article encourages you to implement a creative request workflow and sprint review into your daily grind or simply reminds you that process matters, we can all agree that working smarter not harder has a laundry list of benefits. 

The thing about a process is that it can be broken when needed. If you depend on it to inform your daily work, a break in flow when needed doesn’t cause major hiccups and allows your team to iterate quickly. Agile teams leverage strong work processes to respond quickly to the needs of their organization and happy creative teams work better when they have a clear path to success. Collaboration is easier when us vs. them tension is soothed by a universal creative process that keeps things running smoothly. 

It is the difference between a disastrous tornado and a well-orchestrated symphony. 

Well, that is a wrap! We hope you learned a lot about restoring creative sanity in your organization. By refining your creative request process and building out a workflow that actually works for your team, your team can level up on delivering quickly and effectively to your audience. 

If you need a pep talk before you take on this challenge, just remember this:  it’s not personal, it’s process. 

To learn more about how Marq can help teams execute creative requests faster, email sales@marq.com or schedule a 1:1 with a brand-templating expert here.

your brand matters

Imagine with us your typical weekday morning. Perhaps your routine begins with checking the news cycle- eventually making your way to your email inbox, thumbing through the latest, archiving, and tagging as you go. The first hour of your Monday is likely focused on clearing notifications on various channels and involves a bit of a slow scroll. This drone-like monotony is the ultimate challenge for businesses. It feels next to impossible to stand out.  

How can you capture your audience’s attention in a world of unsubscribes and endless content scrolling?

Yes, we are talking to YOU. Content personalization matters more than ever. Your customer demands a personal experience with your content to break through the noise. 

We’ve partnered with businesses in various industries, from real estate to finance to healthcare, helping them carve out time in their daily content operations to personalize their content. The urgency to focus on content personalization is one of the top priorities for our customers. We want to share with you the overwhelming data that proves content personalization shapes your content strategy and give you the basics in how to implement it well.

In this article, you will learn:

  1. What is content personalization and why it matters
  2. What levels of personalization should you incorporate into your content personalization strategy
  3. What types of content should you personalize
  4. How to scale your content personalization strategy
majority of customers expect personalized content

If personalization is demanded and expected by your audience, what exactly is it, and why does it matter so much? Let’s dive in!

What is content personalization?

Content personalization is exactly what it sounds like -the application of unique identifiers and characteristics about your customer built into your marketing and communications. It makes your content personal.  Sometimes, your content will speak to a broader audience, which has its place. Still, personalization allows you to relate to your customer more effectively and immediately provide a personal context to the problem that you solve. 

If you consider your scrolling habits and reflect on what stops you in your tracks, it is likely the messaging that speaks to you. At the very least, the subject lines that call out your name and your company deserve a pause. But true mastery of content personalization takes it even further than that. 

A quick example illustrates this best.  

Here we apply a broader message and input personal characteristics to the statement.

Generic statement: “This product will change how you connect with your audience.” 

Personalized statement: “This product will change how you connect with your patients.” 

This simple tweak lets your target audience know,  in this case, healthcare professionals, that your particular product solution is specific to them. Personalization, in this case, is “patients.” We’ll get into the layers of personalization later in this article. Still, the key takeaway here is to recognize the increase in content effectiveness when you take the time to relate to your audience on a deeper level. 

To summarize, content personalization is the application of characteristics to better identify with your unique customer and helps your content resonate.

Personalization matters. How much? Well, quite a lot, it turns out. 

1. 63% of marketers have observed personalization increases customer interactions and, ultimately, better conversion rates. (Statistica)

2. 97% of marketers witnessed a rise in business outcomes as a result of personalization (Salesforce)

3. 51% of marketers assert that personalization across multiple touchpoints increased ROI by 300% and more(KO Marketing)

Needless to say, personalization incorporated into your content marketing is a crucial piece of your overall strategy. When done well, your ability to capture your audience’s attention increases the potential for conversion. 

It also means opportunity.

While your competitors are sending canned emails and flooding your potential buyers’ inboxes with mass emails, you have the opportunity to stand out by identifying the actual problems that your buyer faces every day. These key differentiators could be related to their industry or position within a company; it can also be specific to their target audience and your ability to help them connect with them. In either case, the opportunity to level with your audience with layers of personalization makes a difference. 

25% of marketers attributed a spike in revenue greater than 20% due to personalization


There is a massive opportunity to drive revenue by incorporating content personalization in your marketing strategy.  That said, the level of personalization from your first contact with a customer to the subsequent interactions should also follow a rhythm. Unfortunately, many of us have fallen victim to a first-contact email that feels like a little bit “too much.” We’ve also received emails that feel canned and impersonal. The balancing act of personalization must be refined for your audience to churn the results you seek. 

A reasonable guide to follow is the more you interact with a potential customer and the further along in their buyer journey, the more personalized your messaging should become. Your initial connection could be by industry and role, but as the communication deepens, so should your personalization. Your content personalization strategy should include diving into those levels and layers and continually identifying how you can tailor your content even further. 

What are these levels and layers that we speak of? Let’s talk about them. 

Levels of content personalization

The layers of personalization can help you further relate as you continue to connect with your audience. Let’s first drop these into high-level categories to understand the levels of personalization. 

Levels of content personalization 
1. Industry/Market
2. Buyer/Customer Journey
3. Persona 

As we get into the details of these, keep in mind that the cornerstone of content personalization is considering your audience’s individual needs. Those details will make a difference in how you communicate with them; each of these levels is meant to guide you in discovering who they are.

Industry/Market Segment

Personalization by industry or market segment is one of the key ways to adapt your messaging to reach your target audience. To do this effectively, you need to understand your target market and your market segments. 

Even further, you need to understand the unique challenges each segment faces. This means that businesses in one segment may have deep teams with multiple managers and directors, but perhaps for another segment, teams are small and operating with fewer resources. By simply acknowledging their team size, you’ve incorporated a key factor that likely contributes to their buying decision.

Each segment will have specific terms and characteristics for its target audience. You need to learn them and know them. To build upon our example in the last section as it related to healthcare as the target industry, the personalization layer for the market segments within healthcare may look something like this:

Hospitals vs. Clinics vs. Private Practice

The type of care that each segment provides could be a valuable characteristic to include in your content personalization strategy. Including the specific terms and language that this segment would use helps your audience relate to your content more. They can see themselves in what you offer and are not required to fill in the gaps or try to understand how your product/service would apply to them. 

Tip #1: When you personalize your product/solution, your audience can easily understand how you fit into their organizational puzzle.

To illustrate personalization by market segment for a different industry, let’s consider how it could apply to higher education. Universities operate under a large umbrella, but within their organization, they also have unique colleges and departments. Higher education has various groups and organizations that create even smaller segments. Fraternities and sports organizations. The levels within this segment go deep, and we haven’t even gotten down to the students. 

You get the picture. 

Content personalization by industry and/or market segment can dramatically change how you talk about your product/solution. The problems you solve in healthcare will look different than those you solve for financial institutions. To effectively personalize your content, you should plan to have thoroughly researched your target audience and incorporate that research into your personalization strategy. 

Buyer Journey

The next level or layer of personalization to discuss is the stage in your buyer’s journey. Perhaps you are already doing it; it is a common one that most modern marketing strategies cover. By mapping the stages of your buyer’s journey, you can tailor your conversations to where they are at in the process to hopefully become a customer. But layer it in with other levels of personalization, and you increase your opportunities to convert. Whether your audience is in their first interaction with your brand or they have already converted and become a buyer, these stages of their journey should influence how you personalize your content, but it should be layered with the other characteristics that make them unique.

Each stage will provide a different lens to inform your content personalization strategy. 

the buyers journey informs content personalization

1. Awareness

Your personalization strategy may be more specific to your customer’s problems in their unique market segment. Your goal here is to help them identify the problem within their own organization and prompt them to consider your solution. Ask the question, how did they learn about you? Did they find you via Google search, or was this an in-person event interaction? Your message will change depending on your answer. 

2. Consideration

In the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey, your messaging will be more pointed. The specific benefits of your solution and the opportunity to paint the picture of a personalized solution is easier. Remember, they have already decided that they have a problem, and you are an option for them. 

Think about the emails that you personally receive and the ones that resonate with you. You likely prefer the ones that recall your last interaction or, at least, identify with your position or stage in the process. 

3. Purchase

Your personalization strategy in this phase will ensure they successfully adopt your solution, and the process will be smooth. Your content in this stage should not continue to talk about the problem; they already bought in. You want to help them make the most out of your solution. Personalize the message around their great choice and how they will continue to reap the benefits. 

4. Retention

There is a delicate balance in this stage. Your content personalization strategy should be focused on keeping your customer engaged with your solution and happy. This means communicating updates that will specifically impact how they interact with you and your solution and feedback to ensure they are happy with their decision. 

5. Loyalty

Loyal customers want personalized engagement that recognizes their loyalty. It sounds simple, but there is nothing more irritating than receiving an email asking if you’d be interested in talking about their solution when you’ve been paying for the service for a year. Personalization at every stage in the customer journey requires a different approach and message. 

If your content is tailored to the stage your customer is in, it will increase the likelihood that it will resonate.

Content personalization can even move beyond the buyer journey and even attract those who didn’t convert. If you map the stages, you can also track the reasons why they didn’t convert. Later down the road, you can use this information to draw them back in. 

Perhaps you roll out a new feature that was important to them, but your solution didn’t offer it at the time when they were in the consideration phase. Now, you can take the time to reach out, recap why they chose not to go with your solution, and tell them why now might be a good time for them to reconsider. 


Influencing your personalization strategy by including the unique personas of your audience can change your content game in a big way. When you aren’t just talking specifics about the industry they work in but also recognizing the challenges they face because of their role in their organization, your message resonates even further. Your audience personas include job titles and manager vs. support staff positions- this matters because it will help define if they are a decision maker or decision influencers. 

Sometimes, you will hear a customer say, “my team would love this!” This means they are influenced by their team, which will come into play when making a decision. 

That said, if you focus all of your personalization strategies on the influencers and not on the decision-makers themselves, you may find out they don’t have the budget or that there were larger factors at play that the influencers were unaware of. 

Each of these unique layers of personalization builds on each other, and when you include all of the ingredients in your content marketing, you’ll not only have covered your bases, you’ll have knocked it out of the park. 

What types of content should you personalize?

As a general rule of thumb, when you have the opportunity to personalize your content, you should. In many cases, this can be applied to all forms of content across all channels. When targeting is an option, personalization becomes easier to execute.  If you can tailor your message to attract a specific group within your audience, it can make a big impact. 

99% of marketers agree that personalization helps advance customer relationships (Salesforce)

In the same study conducted by Salesforce, personalization usage varied by channel. The reported success in personalization is overwhelmingly evident. 85% of marketers plan to make it even a bigger priority! It is fair to say that if you have the opportunity, take it. 

Let’s talk about what this looks like in practice. Here are a few examples of types of content that marketers personalize and how you can think about applying the levels of personalization that we discussed earlier to each of these channels.


Email personalization can look like incorporating the individuals’ names and organizations in the subject lines and body copy, but it can also go even further. When emails layer the personalization levels, like specific pain points they experience in their industry or role, the email has a more immediate impact. 

How impactful, you might wonder?

Marketers who employ personalization in their emails report 27% higher unique click rates and 11% higher open rates than those who do not (Benchmark)

If you aren’t currently using personalization in your email communications, now is a great time to start. Due to the personal nature of email and the direct line of communication from your business to their inbox, it makes sense why 78% of marketers use personalization as a part of their email marketing strategy (Salesforce). 

It can feel almost instinctual to keep things formal, but the more human you can make your emails, the more likely the human on the receiving end will feel like they are talking to someone instead of a robot. A great way to implement personalization in your emails is to iterate on different ways to talk about your product depending on who you are talking to and from whom the email is sent. 

Our team does this a lot. We come together as a group and ask if certain terms and words will resonate, often making adjustments when it doesn’t sound quite right or if there are objections.

Play with your hellos. They will vary from hey to hi, and the closing call-to-action may use language like “let me know when is a good time” to “let’s set up a time to chat.” These slight changes may seem small, but you’ll be surprised by the difference it makes.

Components of an email you can apply personalization:
  1. Sender
  2. Subject line
  3. Greeting
  4. Body copy (incorporating industry and role-specific information)
  5. Closing
  6. Signature

Remember, that unsubscribe button is a click away, and your audience will only agree to receive emails if they are valuable to them. Their attention is fragile, and you need to add a personal touch to tailor your email communications to their needs. 


Your content personalization strategy for your website will likely vary from page to page. While your homepage will likely aim to target the broader audience, incorporating industry and solution-specific use cases can help the segmented groups within your audience more easily identify with your brand. 56% of marketers incorporate personalization into their website content (Salesforce). 

The levels of personalization can help drive the content for your website and even guide the production of new content. You can leverage your blog to speak to a specific subset of your audience and personalize the way you write about your product based on the topic you are delivering on. A great example of this is this very article. While we are talking about content personalization strategy in a more generic context,  we can easily take this further by demonstrating how segments within our target audience can apply these principles to their audience. In fact, we probably will. 

Another great way to incorporate content personalization on your website is to create targeted landing pages. These pages can be tied to your online ads or social campaigns and can include specific messaging acknowledging the avenue in which they arrived on your website. This also helps with tracking traffic and attributing success to a specific campaign. 

Other channels

Let’s consider the email and website channels we already discussed and consider how we personalize those specific content channels. We can apply similar principles to other forms of content marketing as well.

Oftentimes, we go through the trouble of targeting our online advertising but miss that personal touch to the campaign itself. An example of this in practice would be a geo-tracking campaign. Perhaps you want to target a group of individuals who attended a conference that you attended; your ad should mention the conference or the topics discussed so they can easily relate and recognize an experience that should still be top of mind for them. 

Another example of content personalization done well in practice is targeted social campaigns. If you make the time and effort to specify your audience, be sure to check your message against the audience you are speaking to. It is a simple step that is so easily missed. Your audience doesn’t want a generic solution, they want a solution that will work for their specific circumstances. 

Keep this in mind as you build your campaigns. 

How to successfully scale your content personalization strategy 

We’ve covered some great tips and principles for you to effectively personalize, but you may need some advice on how to do it at scale, especially if you have a smaller content and marketing team, which we’ve found is the case for 53% of organizations (Content Marketing Institute). With that said, small teams can still execute on personalization, and we’ve outlined how to do it. 

Here are some quick tips to implement content personalization in your overall strategy, make scalability possible, and ensure your path to success. 

1. Do not underestimate the importance of data. 

To personalize your content well, you need to know your audience deeply. It is valuable to invest in data to help inform your personalization strategy, and it will play a key role in your success. 

2. Manage time as your most valuable resource and asset

The resource we all wish we had an abundance of is time, and personalization does require a time investment to make it work. But, when content personalization is applied across multiple touchpoints, you can increase ROI by 300%. (KO Marketing). It’s simple, make it a priority, and your organization will benefit.

3. Automate when you have the opportunity to do so.

This may sound crazy, but there are ways to automate your content creation process, so you have more time to personalize your content. Automate your busy work and enable faster creation to expedite creation. Even better, when you can automate portions of your content, you give your team more confidence to execute well. 

4. Revisit your content often and try new things!  

What’s done is never done is a good rule to adopt for your content. You can always iterate on how you talk about your product or solution. As you learn more about your audience and their challenges, you can personalize your content even further. 

Let’s wrap it up.

We covered the whats, and why’s of content personalization and delivered some tips on implementing it across your content channels. To save even more time on content creation and dedicate more time to personalization, take a look at our post on brand templating. Brand templating is the modern way to manage your brand, and Marq can help you do that.

To learn more about how Marq can help you scale your content personalization and build content that resonates with your audience, schedule a 1:1 with our team. You can bet that we’ll personalize the experience for you. 

How many times have you fallen victim to broken tools and processes simply because that is just the way it is? Even worse, how many times has cross-functional collaboration failed, and you’ve been blindsided by changes? 

Neither of these situations is a great place to be in, and even though conflict might scare us, the truth is that it is the only way to make a positive impact in our organizations. That is why we want to talk about collaboration strategy, specifically as it relates to introducing new ideas. 

The time for growth is yesterday, today, and tomorrow. This article will give you the pep talk you need to challenge the status quo and bring your team together on solutions that matter. 

You will also learn:

They say it is wise to listen to your new hires because they will have a valuable perspective. They will likely have an opinion on existing systems and insights about the effectiveness of your collaboration strategy. 

But why is that? 

Often, dealing with what isn’t working feels like a “tomorrow” problem. Tunnel vision is extremely common, and new voices are so incredibly valuable. With their enthusiastic optimism, your newest team members will likely wonder why things are operating at half their potential, and they even may reinvigorate you to do something about it. But we want you to have the energy for ideas no matter how long you’ve been with your company. 

Let’s get real. While you are pushing off vetting new tools and reworking your existing processes, you are wasting valuable time with bandaids. You need a solution with legs that will bring your organization to the next level. And, it isn’t just time you need you to make it happen, it is effective collaboration.

Whether you are a decision maker or a decision influencer, we want to help you rally around solutions that will make a difference, present them with confidence, and drive growth for your organization. 

As we like to say, let’s dive in. 

Common roadblocks to collaboration 

If you are lucky enough to have an ambitious few fired up about change, you may notice that eventually, enthusiasm weans. More often than not, it is the attitude about trying something new that can stop a project from moving forward. 

How many times are bright ideas met with fierce resistance?

“We tried that.”

“Sounds great, but we can’t get everyone on board.”

“Good luck with that.”

We’ve heard this from project managers to directors, caught in the frustration of stacked miscommunications or concern about buy-in on their ideas. The lack of energy towards trying something new is likely because it can cause friction, which doesn’t lead to solutions and instead fuels conflict. We know if you stay in this place for too long, you risk losing out on opportunities. It is also a cancerous attitude that you never want to hang around for too long.

Your work culture depends on effective collaboration. Your work environment should be a place where everyone is comfortable with presenting new ideas. It should be a place where introducing better tools and processes is encouraged. New ideas should create excitement for your team and be a part of your everyday workflow.

It would be impossible to outline how to combat every hurdle you may encounter when you try to implement something new. We know that communication failures are sometimes uniquely personal to specific teams/individuals. 

We want to focus on how to do it right. 

It is normal for ideas to get pushed through to the end stages and fall apart; it happens. There are perfectly reasonable causes for this, and the point of this article isn’t to ensure you get your way. Instead, we want to help you properly vet the tools/solutions that are on the table and present them to your team in a way that gives your idea its’ best foot forward. 

Effective communication fosters change when information is shared with clarity and shared at the right time. This doesn’t mean it will always result in acceptance, but it has a better chance of moving forward. Good ideas presented poorly will fail. Never let that be the reason why you aren’t able to make things happen! 

Let’s venture down a path of thoughtful implementation so you can stop daydreaming about solutions and start moving on them! 

How to collaborate with your team

AKA How to become an influencer (within your org)

If we look at the market, we can’t deny we exist in an exciting time; rapid introduction of solutions and tools every day, many of which explore untouched terrain. Innovators are inspired by challenges, and we benefit from their ideas that help us work faster, better, and more collaboratively. From project management tools to brand templating platforms (psst, that’s us), there are so many incredible solutions out there that are worth consideration. It is exciting! But, what can feel less exciting and perhaps daunting is getting everyone on board. 

The uphill climb of influencing buy-off from key stakeholders and then the even bigger task of implementing it; well, it is a lot to take on, we get that. But hey, it’s worth it. 

Influencer status within your organization is goals for all of us. We want to have a voice in how resources are allocated and thoughtfully advocate for solutions that we believe in. We also want to be heard by our peers. This dreamy world is possible, and if your organization is doing it right, your voice is valued.

There are many ways to influence the wrong way, but again, we want to focus on doing it the right way. To influence your cross-functional partners and gain the support of decision-makers, you have to introduce new ideas thoughtfully. You also have to be willing to receive pushback and learn from other points of view. A pushback does not necessarily mean “no.” Some of the very best ideas are birthed out of resistance. 

Our very own CEO, Owen Fuller, often asks for us to disagree, encouraging us to share what we really think, especially if it is unpopular. In that place of discord is often where we uncover the best path forward. 

Adam Grant, a well-known organizational psychologist, gives the best advice on this front.

“You’re entitled to your own opinions in your head. But if you choose to express them out loud, it’s your responsibility to:

We can apply this guidance when we present new ideas. We can also address old processes that are no longer working with this in mind. If we are thoughtful in how we present our ideas, others are more likely to recognize the effort, and we are more likely to influence their opinion. Influence in this context doesn’t mean you will win them over to your side– it means your insight is valuable to the conversation and will help lead to a solution.

According to Daniel Pink, NYT best-selling author, “40% of our day is spent influencing others, if you are in sales, it’s even higher” (Forbes). Whether we realize it or not, that influence, when equipped with information, backed with reason, and supercharged with solutions, can make an impact. 

To achieve true buy-in on your ideas, you must bring people along with you and make them a part of your solution. This means instead of simply presenting the solution, you have to include them in the why and the how to arrive at a collaborative resolution. 

This does not mean you can’t have a plan for implementation in advance. In fact, sharing whether you are in the early thinking stages of a project versus a fully formed plan of action will help your team understand your position. In either case, it is your responsibility to provide opportunities for your team to weigh in and share their perspectives. So often, this part is skipped, resulting in low adoption and/or silos within your organization. 

There are a few foundational principles of good collaboration. As we talk about sharing new ideas with your team, we want to keep these principles in mind at every step.

Trust. Support. Share. Assist.

1. Trust

You have to trust your team to execute their roles and responsibilities. You also have to trust their expertise. They were hired for a reason, let them do it! 

2. Support

The support pathways need to flow up and down. Support your leaders, your team, and your initiatives. This takes shape in different ways, but at the end of the day, whether you are a manager or a team member, everyone is in a supportive role. 

3. Share

Communicate and do it often. Share ideas and make sure others feel comfortable sharing with you. Providing input and continuing to do it takes effort, but it also demonstrates that you care. Remember, this flows both ways, so ask others to share with you. You are responsible for ensuring that you are approachable. 

4. Assist

One of the best ways to facilitate collaboration is to offer assistance. It can be big or small, but when you let your team know you are available to help in any capacity, that demonstrates you are a good partner. At the same time, respecting your role on a project and recognizing that an assisting role on a project is different than ownership will also demonstrate you are a team player. Know the part you play and offer help! 

We’ve now covered some important principles to keep the conversation flowing. 

As a director or manager, remember that your team likely wants to be involved. As a team member, you likely want to have a say. The ages old, treating others how you’d want to be treated, apply especially if you consider how you would want new ideas to be presented to you. 

Whether you are working to influence the decision-makers at your organization or you are trying to convince your team to support your approach, the steps you take to get true buy-in are important. 

Let’s chat about those.

Steps to take from introduction to implementation

First, it is always preferred to let your team know as soon as possible if you are thinking of implementing something new or changing an existing process. Collaboration in the earliest stages will help move the process forward and ensure it is done the right way. Even if it is just a simple FYI, your team will respect you more if you keep them in the loop. 

With that in mind, we want good ideas to move forward, and we want to ensure we properly vet them at every stage. These steps will ensure you go about it the right way and keep effective collaboration top of mind. 

1_ Idea 

If you are a creative type, these probably strike in the middle of the night, likely around the 2 AM hour. Regardless of when the ideas roll in, the spark is something truly special. Maybe you see a problem or inefficiency within your organization that you have the energy to fix! Perhaps a tool/solution is on your radar, and you really believe it can change the game for your team. 

In either case, your first course of action is to think it through! Put your idea to the test and give it some extra attention on your own. There are meetings specific to brainstorming, and we love them! Do them often. But, when you have an independent idea that you want to own and perhaps execute, give it some attention. And then, share it! 

One of the easiest mistakes you can make is viewing your idea through a singular lens. Think about who else is impacted by this particular issue or who would benefit from the solution. Then, invite others in early.  If it is a tool that would make things easier or better, consider other perspectives and get a quick read on it. An idea is just an idea until you poke holes in it and decide if it can become something more. 

As you invite others in, listen. Learn how your co-workers and cross-functional partners may engage with it and take the time to think about it from their perspective. 

Is your idea still an idea that you think is worth exploring further after you’ve let it marinade? Great! It’s time to dig in deeper.


No matter what you are planning, you need to do your research. Learn about how other organizations and teams approach these challenges. Perhaps take a look at all of the solutions and paths you could take and weigh them against each other. 

Is there data to support your position? Pull it. If this is about fixing a problem, gather some information about why this needs to be addressed. 

For example, your team needs to better track projects, but why? Is the lack of visibility an issue because there is too much in the funnel? Is there an imbalance in work distribution? To find the right project management tool for your team, you need to consider what your main goal is before you try to propose solutions. Consider the integrations that you need. As a general rule, look at the processes already in place that work really well and make sure the new addition will complement those wins. 

In this stage, you also need to know what resources will be needed to implement. 

Ask yourself:

You may notice a lot of these questions are about WHO is involved. Again, collaboration, top of mind at every step, will foster a culture of effective communication throughout your organization. When you are mindful of your team and the expertise that they bring to the table, and you allow them to operate at their full potential, the outcomes will always be better than if you put them on a leash.

3_ Share

Perhaps nothing is more frustrating than when someone comes to the table with a solution that they are 100% confident will solve the problem. It feels disingenuous and completely disconnected from your reality. Are they really sure? They didn’t ask you about it, so how do they know? Let’s think about the foundational structure of an organization. You hire diverse opinions and perspectives. You purposely design roles around these unique backgrounds. To allow others to exercise their expertise, you have to allow them to share. You don’t know what you don’t know. 

The sharing stage of a project is about getting input just as much as it is about presenting your idea. Don’t be the person who tries to roll out something new without talking to people about it first. Whether you choose to meet with individuals and run your ideas past them early or you gather decision-makers as a group, make sure you are engaging with different opinions. 

This step is a two-part.

Share for input, then share for buy-in.

Hopefully, part one will happen in stages one and two. You’ve taken feedback and input into consideration and adjusted your plan to reflect their input. Now, you can formally present the collaborative plan to get the final “Yay!” or “Nay.” 

Have you ever noticed that when you present new ideas and you share it as a collaborative effort, you are more likely to get the resources you need to make it happen? 

If you’ve properly hashed through your ideas with your team before formally presenting your proposal, you should already know exactly what the feedback and hesitations will be. Quite honestly, collaborative suggestions will be more successful than individual initiatives. 

Now, we’ve talked about this all with the best-case scenario in mind, but if at any point in stages 1-4, you received pushback from more than one team member and were unable to come to a mutually beneficial resolution, go back to the drawing board. Accept that the current state of your plan is not working. It doesn’t mean you need to drop it altogether,  it may just mean that you must go back to the drawing board. You will be respected more if you are open about the areas that are falling short and take the time to improve the plan.


If you’ve made it this far, good on you! Now, you can put your plan into action. Implementation is the part where it could be rough at times, and there may be some speedbumps along the way, so trust, share, support, and assist your way through this phase. 

Some projects take days, some weeks, so be sure to keep your team updated on how the implementation is going and let them know if there are delays or changes along the way. 

Slack channels are a great way to keep people posted on project status and ensure that no one misses a change that could impact their workflow. 

Other options? Set calendar reminders to update your team on milestones. Use standup meetings to give a status update. Remember, you have to share to keep the collaborative energy flowing. 


Ok, this is so important! After you’ve implemented a project or plan, review it! Follow up and ask how it is working for everyone. You may think that your solution is working, but you have to actively seek out feedback to be sure. 

It can be scary to open yourself up to criticism, but it is the only way to make a process better. Gather different perspectives and continue to evaluate the original problem, and stack them against the solution that you implemented. With any luck, it won’t be a hurdle anymore, and you can move on to the next great thing. If it’s failing to do what you planned, it’s okay! You tried something, and with some tweaks, it may still work. 

The review step, when done routinely, is what prevents the entire problem that we started this article with- resistance to change and hesitation about new ideas come from lack of practice and failed collaboration. 

We discussed effective collaboration and ensuring it happens within your organization and teams. Ultimately, company culture is one of the biggest indicators of whether or not it is easy or difficult to launch new ideas. It takes real effort to ensure that your work environments champion new ideas, but it all starts with clear collaboration from start to finish. Make sure that your team feels comfortable challenging the process and provides opportunities for constructive feedback. 

We leave you with this last tidbit of advice. Teamwork starts with you. When you collaborate together with intention, the ideas that become something more will deliver better results than the ideas you tried to bring to life alone. 

Remember Trust. Support. Share. Assist.  Reminds us a little bit of Captain Planet but in a work sort-of way. Instead of saving the planet, we are saving sanity.

Want to learn more about Marq’s brand-templating tool, designed with team collaboration in mind? Schedule a 1:1 with one of our brand-templating experts.