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First, Then: Marketing Strategy, Content Strategy

Our five-year-old is nonverbal. So in our home, we use basic sign language.

One of our favorite signs for her is what we call “first, then”. She holds up her index finger and rotates her wrist in a circle. It’s her way of asking, “What are we doing first, then what comes next?”

As I pondered my next post, my brain kept coming back to that image over and over again. It seemed the best way to explain a common content pitfall for businesses.

Investing heavily in content without a clear and well-defined marketing strategy.

We work a lot with small to mid-size organizations. These are hardworking, close-knit teams. Often times, the employees and ownership are filling multiple roles. They recognize they need content and need to be active on social, but there is very little time for them to stop, think and strategize.

So they hop on the content wagon first with no idea where it’s going or where they want it to take them, and that’s a big problem.


You’re about to waste precious time and resources developing content that won’t speak value to your audience. To quote my daughter, you need to ask yourself, “What are we doing first, then what’s next?”

Your marketing strategy needs to come first. At the very least, you need a well-defined brand mission and target audience.

Skip that part and your method of communication becomes completely irrelevant. Video marketing, website, blog, social, it doesn’t matter. You don’t know who you’re speaking to or what you want them to hear.

So what’s a business to do? Drop 50k on a research project? I wouldn’t say don’t do that (if it’s within your budget). But, there are certainly small, more conservative steps you can take first before you dive into content generation.

Collect Some Data — If you’re a smaller organization with a limited budget, do some basic discovery. Survey your customers. Review analytics if you have that capability. Find out what your customers value about what you do and who you are. Look for patterns in their responses. Then, follow the breadcrumbs. Bonus points if you can identify some of their emotional associations to your business. At the very minimum, this is going to help you better define a value proposition. From there, you can build a communication and content strategy.

Develop A Brand Playbook — This should contain your mission statement, your brand pillars, description of the target audience, emotional motivators in addition to basic style-guide information (fonts, logos etc.) It contains the foundation for how you want the brand represented publicly. That goes for any future piece of content creation. Nothing is worse than investing in content only to decide you want all the graphic design elements changed to a different color, or you want to use a different slogan. It costs money, and it costs time!

Tailor Content to Platform— This is digital marketing 101. Each platform is unique and therefore needs to be treated differently. But, the brand remains the umbrella covering your entire digital presence. As you can imagine, this is a whole lot easier if you have a clear understanding of your brand.

I know what you’re probably thinking at this point. LoveCreative is in the content creation business. This whole article seems counterintuitive.

Here’s why it’s not.

Our client’s success is the most important thing to us, and we know that a client with a basic marketing strategy in place is more likely to continue investing (rightly so) in more content.

So first, we help our clients help themselves, then we hop on the content wagon with them.

And this time, we all know exactly where we’re headed.

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