Column Five has been lucky enough to help hundreds of partners over the years. Whether it’s a single infographic or an ongoing brand strategy engagement, we’re honored to work with so many great people on so many awesome projects.
We’re also always happy to help new brands tell their stories in creative ways. However, we know that working with a new agency can be a scary enterprise. If you haven’t worked with us (or any agency) before, there are a lot of unknowns.
We want any current or potential partner to feel confident in our working relationship, which is why we thought we’d answer the most common questions we get from clients.
The Top 10 Column Five FAQS
Whether you’re interested in working with us or just wondering how we do what we do, here’s a little insight into our work.
Q: Do you have bandwidth to take on my project?
This is usually the first question we get, and the answer is…probably. Over the last decade we’ve refined our process, streamlined our infrastructure, and built a super talented team that can do a lot (like that time we helped LinkedIn produce 101 graphics in 24 hours.) That said, our availability depends on a few things: how quickly you need a project done, what that project is, how you’re distributing it, etc.
Caveat: We care a lot about our partners, and we’ll do whatever we can to help them create awesome content. But we also don’t think every brand is a fit for us. Even if we have the availability, we won’t take on brands whose visions don’t align with ours (sorry, fracking industry).
Q: How quickly can you start?
See point one. In general, we usually appreciate at least a two-week lead time—although there are always exceptions.
Q: Who will I be working with at Column Five?
Our creative teams usually involve a producer, designer(s), art director, and account director. But, depending on the project, the team may be more involved. You might work with a mix of:
- Producer: Part project manager/part creative, producers are your point of contact. They keep the team on track, facilitate production, and often contribute to creative content.
- Designer(s): The visual brains, designers lend their expertise in visual communication to make sure the idea is strong and executed effectively.
- Art Director: The AD oversees the creative execution, ensuring everything is of quality and on-brand.
- Account Director: Our Account Directors are the primary caretakers of our client relationships, ensuring engagements are running smoothly and all parties are satisfied.
- Editorial: This includes expert writers who will execute creative content.
- Developers: These pros will bring interactives and animation to life.
Most of our team is in-house, but we have remote people all over the country. We’re well-seasoned, though, so we keep things going even if we’re working across timezones.
Q: Will my team change as time goes on?
Probably not. We tend to keep the gang together, especially the longer we work together. (Senior Producer Brian Wolford has worked with the crew at TurboTax for most of the last decade.) There are certainly cases where we might need to switch it up, whether for logistical reasons or to bring in fresh perspective, but for the most part we pride ourselves in building strong, long-term relationships. (Shoutout to Zendesk, one of our earliest clients.)
Q: Do you have experience in my industry?
Most likely. We’ve been doing content marketing for a decade. From small startups to Fortune 100 brands, education and automobiles to finance and healthcare, we’ve done a lot of work for a lot of people. You can take a look at some of our clients to see what types of industries we’ve worked in.
Q: How much B2B experience do you have?
See above. We got our start in B2B, working with a ton of startups. Today, more than half of the brands we work with fall into B2B tech or financial services.
Q: How much will my project cost?
This is always the million dollar question, and again, it depends. We determine pricing based on a few factors.
- Scope of work: How much work are we creating? Is it a single campaign or a full brand strategy? The quantity of content and/or level of involvement will all influence our fees.
- Type of work: Are you looking for a single infographic or a series of videos? An e-book or a motion graphic? We work in many mediums, some of which are more costly in terms of time, money, and resources.
- Timeline: Is this going to be a year-long campaign, or a rush project due in a week? These are important things to consider from the jump.
- Distribution strategy: Are you doing a paid campaign? Do you need a PR push for publication pickup? We’ll need to consider budget size and allocation to make sure you get the right eyes on your content.
Of course, these are just a few of the main things we consider when pricing our services. Each engagement is unique, so we don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach.
Q: What does your creative process look like?
If you’re just beginning to explore content creation, it can seem overwhelming. We’ve simplified and refined our process over the years to ensure the end result is something everyone is happy with. Some things may be different depending on the type of content we’re producing (e.g., an e-book vs. an interactive infographic).
But in general, we view our creative engagements as collaborative experiences. Some brands like to be more involved than others, and we’re happy to work in whatever capacity is preferred, but in general we want to make sure everyone supports the work.
Above all, we consider ourselves to be a true partner—not just a gun for hire—so we work to cultivate an open, honest, and symbiotic relationship. (FYI, we’re also not threatened by your great ideas. Be Humble is one of our core values. Your win is our win, so whatever will help tell your story best is what we’ll go with.)
Not every project will follow this process to a tee, as there are plenty of variables, but in general our process looks something like this for a typical static piece of content:
- Kickoff: We’ll discuss the creative brief, reaffirm goals, and answer any and all questions off the bat.
- Ideation: We take a content-first approach, delving into our ideas, ensuring they align with the brand goal.
- Content: We’ll produce a content draft. Depending on the format, this may be something like a script or Word doc. Together we’ll review, edit, tweak, or revise until it’s good to go for design. (This ensures that no design time is wasted.)
- Wireframe: This is basically a design rough draft. You’ll see content layout, light illustration, typography, etc.
This might also include things like mood boards, storyboards, and sketches. Once approved, we’ll move on to full design.
- Full design: Here you’ll see everything come to life, whether it’s an infographic, motion graphic, or e-book. Then we’ll make revisions based on your feedback.
- Final design: At this stage everyone will have signed off on the design and the final version will be delivered. Then we can all relax and celebrate.
Note: Other content formats require additional phases (e.g., animation or development).
While every agency works differently, this is the process we’ve found most effective.
Q: How long does it take?
Again, it depends on the project, timeline, client involvement, review and edit rounds, etc. The more complicated a project (e.g., a live-action video), the more people and resources we need to coordinate. We pride ourselves on delivering quality content, so we don’t overcommit or cut corners to get it done.
In general, our turnaround time is for each content type is:
- Infographic: 4 weeks
- Motion graphic: 4-6 weeks
- Interactive: 5-10 weeks
- E-book: 4-6 weeks
- Live-action video: 6-12 weeks
- Branding: 4-12 weeks
Q: How can we ensure our engagement goes smoothly?
We think the best work comes from a great brand-agency relationship, so there are a few things you can do to help the process.
- Fully fill out the brief. We start with an engagement brief that helps us understand who you are, what you’re trying to achieve, and how we can help you get there. This document is crucial to keep everyone on the same page and keep the project on track throughout our engagement.
- Communicate early and often. We find that’s the best way to identify and resolve issues before they become real issues. It’s also helpful to let us know your preferred modes of communication (Slack, email, etc.).
- Include key stakeholders from the beginning. Nothing derails a project like someone throwing in critical feedback once we’re practically wrapped. All stakeholders should approve content at every deliverable stage so no surprises throw a wrench in the process later on.
- Consolidate feedback. Designate one point person to consolidate and collate feedback from all of those important stakeholders.
For more ways to make things easier, check out these tips on how to work effectively with your content agency.
We Love What We Do, So We’re Happy to Chat
Hopefully we’ve answered a few of your questions (or maybe we’ve inspired a few more). We love what we do, so we’re happy to chat about any projects you’re working on or creative challenges you’re facing. (We’ve helped all sorts of brands tell their stories, so we know what works, what doesn’t, and how you can improve on what you’re already doing.)
In the meantime, if you’re curious to learn more about who we are and how we work:
- Check out our origin story to see how Column Five began.
- Find out why we ditched project debriefs.
- Learn about how we changed our content strategy and increased our leads 78% in 6 months.
- Take a look at the biggest creative lessons we’ve learned.
We hope we’ll get a chance to work together in the future.