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Marketing Misconception #3: Marketing's Sole Purpose is NOT to "Make Things Look Pretty"

The Marketing Misconceptions series will focus on topics that are common perceptions of marketing and then clarifying them. Some are light hearted ones that make most Marketers roll their eyes. Others are actually pretty important and could be hurting your business.

Ok so this one is a more light-hearted misconception that will absolutely make Marketers roll their eyes, but it is a misconception nonetheless. If I had a dollar for every time someone sent me a PowerPoint collage meant to be a flyer and said "Marketing - I already did 95% of the hard work for you, but can you just make this look pretty?", I would have been able to retire a decade ago. Add on the inevitable follow up comment where it should only take us an hour to get it done since most of the work is already done for us, and it's one of my favorite one-two punches.

The Intentions Behind Asking Marketing to Make Something Pretty

So, let's put aside the part where - depending on their delivery - it can come across slightly insulting when someone approaches you with the perception or assumption that making things pretty and turning it around on a dime is the only value Marketing brings them. Instead, let's focus on more of the more nuanced challenges with it.

I'll absolutely agree that sometimes if you get lucky, the person who is submitting the request somewhat understands design or what messaging hierarchy should look like, or they're just asking for minor adjustments to an existing piece so it really is just clean up and polishing the piece. But most of the time it's that rascal of a Sales dude who grabbed some screenshots from 6 different documents and perhaps a Google images search and dropped it on a PowerPoint with no text, but want a double-sided printed sell sheet lickety split (no offense Sales folks, but you know you totally do this or shades of this on the regular 🙃).

Putting my sarcasm to the side, most of the time these types of requests and comments are coming in from well-intentioned individuals who are genuinely trying to make Marketing's job easier, but just don't realize what they're asking for.

Why Marketing Can't Just "Make it look pretty"

In reality, there is soooo much more to Marketing than the 'pretty' factor. See my blog post on just how complex Marketing is here. But being specific on this particular tangent and example, there is a reason this well-intentioned approach doesn't work and actually tends to create more work for Marketing, not less. There's a lot of consideration that goes into each piece we develop - even if it's just a two-sided flyer. Let's explore some of those considerations:


Marketing has to ensure that anything created adheres to brand guidelines. Brand consistency across materials is necessary - not just because organization leadership want it to have a certain look - brand consistency aids in brand awareness and recognition in customers. And guess what that brand awareness and recognition do? Help keep the brand top of mind with customers even if they aren't ready to purchase right now.

Strategic Intent

Sure it's "just a flyer", but Marketing needs to understand strategically how does this flyer fit into the grand scheme of things? Is it the right medium for where and how the target audience consumes content? Does it drive the business forward in a way that is aligned with the overarching business and long-term strategy? Or is it a one-off short-term tangent that might get one person to look at a product for 2 minutes? How does it fit in with the rest of the materials and initiatives happening within the organization?

If the intent of the flyer is at odds with the business strategy, could confuse a customer, or be completely ignored by the customer because it's not what they are seeking or where they are seeking it, then Marketing needs to understand why and how to ensure it fits or can be adjusted to fit within the strategy overall. And sometimes if it's so off base to the business, strategy and customer need, we have to shut it down entirely.

Messaging Strategy

Marketing needs to understand what you're trying to convey in your flyer. Going back to strategic intent and brand voice - if your flyer messages are not aligned with those two - or you don't even have a message or point you're trying to make, guess what Marketing has to write or re-write...sometimes from scratch?

Visual Hierarchy

There are a ton of studies out there that speak to how the human eye processes information regardless of medium. Thus designers build a layout for each medium in an intentional way that ensures the information is conveyed in a structure that will follow the reader's natural eye patterns. In essence there's a methodology to it so when we get that lovely collage, the design team has to rework it to fit within a visual hierarchy that the audience will actually read.

Image Rights and Resolution

You may think it's NBD to just grab a Google image or provide a screenshot of an image. But the copyrights to the image and the resolution of the image do matter.

If the organization doesn't have permission to use the image or the resolution of the image is so low that you can't even tell what it's a picture of, guess what Marketing has to go do? Purchase image rights and/or hunt down the image to try to find a higher resolution of it so that people can actually see what it is. In organizations with thousands of photos, that's a pain in the ass.

And these are just a few of the considerations we have to take into account as we build out materials. Legal disclaimer language, claims substantiation in certain sectors, font size requirements and more all come into play as well.

A More Efficient Way to Approach Marketing

In a nutshell, instead of asking Marketing to make something look pretty and assuming it's not a big ask, please do us the courtesy of reaching out and explaining the issue or challenge you're trying to address. But come with an actual challenge or pain point that needs to be addressed, not a personal preference request. It actually saves everyone time if you ask the questions first and help clarify the strategic need. Sometimes it truly is a gap that needs to be filled. And when it is, bravo to you for seeing the gap and identifying it!

Other times there is a piece that already exists that speaks to what you're trying to convey and you didn't even know it. Or it's utterly unnecessary and could confuse your customer, not help them. Or it would cause extra work across the board for minimal, if any, benefit. Not bravo to you in any of those instances...


At the end of the day, everyone is trying to do their part to drive sales and revenue. That is not what's debated here. What's debated is how it is approached overall. Marketing is not there to make it hard for Sales to sell. But we're also not here to just make things pretty in the short-term because it's what you want; rather we're all on the same team, focused on what the customer needs.

The key is respectful collaboration and communication and understanding the value of each teams' role in that relationship. It goes a long way to help everyone drive business forward without doing unnecessary extra work. And it definitely makes the work a hell of a lot easier and more fun on everyone if there's collaboration and respect involved.

Let's Connect

Like what you read here? Considering how it might apply to your own business? Then let’s connect and get started.

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