Digital Marketer’s Toolkit: Paper and Pen(cil)

Yes…I said paper.

In my nearly 8 years of professional work experience, I’ve always found it incredibly annoying when I’m presenting a first draft of a PowerPoint or Word Doc, which I always preface with “this is just a rough draft, focus on the content for now” and it never fails, someone  starts nitpicking about format:

  • “add a bullet there”
  • “the spacing is off”
  • “that’s not the right font”

No matter how many times I tell them to focus on the content, some people just want to make sure everything is pretty.  Pretty is great, but content is better.

Start with content. End with Format.

Ditch the PPT for Paper
Look familiar?

The reason is two-fold: In the corporate world, almost all of us have to create a PowerPoint (aka the dreaded “deck”) or a proposal via Word. When you open up a blank PPT or Word doc, your thoughts are immediately restricted to the limitations of the program — let’s be honest, they can both be kind of quirky (I just wanted a space between the bullet points, why isn’t it working!!!).

Secondly, because the blankness can be intimidating, it’s natural for us to try to create content and make it pretty at the same time.

Just as artists doodle on paper, make a point to doodle your ideas on paper before committing them to the computer. It’s not a new concept, I think all of us (30 or older )remember having to create a written rough draft in school. If you’re like me, you dreaded them, after all, it was double-work to write then type — but as I’ve gotten older, I realize how great of an exercise that is. The lack of structure allows your creativity to flow.

With paper, you can scribble, mark-up, rearrange your thoughts, etc. And spending 20 minutes or so not staring at a computer and email pop-ups can be rather soothing.

Once you have your ideas completely fleshed out, now you can focus on transferring those thoughts onto your computer and “making them pretty.” I’ve found this to be extremely useful and because I keep all my ideas in a notebook, it’s fun to have a way to physically reference all of my digital marketing goodness…hmmm…maybe one day I can sell my notebook for some big bucks.

Anyway, I know, this is supposed to be a digital marketer’s toolkit item, and this can be applied to anyone in the corporate world.  But I think as digital marketers we get caught up in everything being online and high-tech, that we sometimes limit our creativity with those high-tech tools.

So next time you’re pitching your next great idea for the company, go old school and start it on paper.

Paper: The original word doc. 🙂

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