When we found out brand marketing teams were using spreadsheets to plan and organize their marketing content, we felt there must be a better way. This is exactly the type of challenge we like to solve here at Percolate.

Today we’re proud to announce the release of Marketing Planner 1.0: a new planning tool within Percolate that connects the job of content planning with creation and distribution. As a product designer at Percolate, this was a great project to work on, and I’d like to share some of the process that goes into designing a feature as involved as our content planner.

LEARN

We started by listening to our client needs. Our research connected us to a diverse set of brands, from GE to Smirnoff, to find out how they currently plan content, what tools they use and their biggest challenges in the planning process. We closely examined the structure of planning calendars, how they were being shared and how teams were collaborating and adding content to them.

1-Collage

Our client interviews revealed some common pain points brands faced when planning content. These included difficulty sharing and updating planning documents, difficulty tracking and grouping conversations around specific topics or campaigns and the lack of flexibility in how teams can view and organize content. We used these insights to lay the foundation for a tool that would give teams more efficient, collaborative and visible planning workflows.

2-Patterns

IDEATE

Next we began to ideate. We held a workshop with our internal teams (Design, Engineering, Client Solutions, and Accounts) to discuss and sketch ideas. We explored approaches to connect brand teams and agency partners, to give team’s the ability to manage content across platforms, build campaigns, schedule events and leverage content from various regions and partners. These sessions started to shape and give form to our planner.

3-Workshop

PROTOTYPE

From here we demonstrated our vision to clients using a planner prototype. Prototypes provide a useful and efficient way to quickly validate design decisions and communicate our thinking. Clients were quickly able to tell us exactly what their challenges were which allowed us to refine our designs. For example, users in the final version can plan content across multiple topics for any social platform, giving teams the flexibility and organization they require. Since we discovered this requirement early in the prototyping stage, the product team was able to rethink our engineering approach to meet our clients’ needs.

4-Prototype

BUILD

Through our research and prototyping phases we arrived at a solution that solved the inefficient and disjointed workflows we had identified. But we didn’t stop there. We’ve built what we believe is the first content planner that is integrated into the entire creation and distribution workflow for brand marketing teams. Among our content planner’s core features:

1)  A week view populated with events and posts organized by the brand’s platforms and business initiatives for long-term planning and campaign management.

2)  A day view offering a deeper look into the events and posts scheduled for any given day.

3)  Events, providing a collaborative space to help brand teams contribute content ideas, links, and media – and then execute posts based on those concepts.

4)  Event-based conversation streams to help teams communicate around specific posts, events, and campaigns.

We’ve already begun onboarding our clients and learning from their experiences to further iterate and build upon this tool. We obviously have a few plans up our sleeve, too. We’re excited to release this new feature today and help make the job of content planning awesome.