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When I’m selling content strategy to a new client, one question comes up more than any other:
Why should we spend all this money on strategy, when we have the budget and staff we need to start publishing content now?
It’s a sensible question. Marketing dollars must be spent wisely. And so every “new” suggestion is (rightfully) met with at least a little skepticism.
The good news is that when it comes to saving money, a content-first approach—one that puts content strategy first, content creation second, and everything else, including design and development, in line after those—is an easy sell.
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Think first about the alternate approach: A design-first methodology leads to website (and other channel) templates that may or may not work with real information and real user needs. A content-first methodology addresses business and user goals first, creating clarity, consistency, professionalism and, ever importantly, efficiency.
In this sense, content strategy helps businesses prioritize content channels, assessing the value of a website, blog, Twitter account, newsletter, etc. This leads to focusing your content (and design and development) efforts on only the channels that will help you achieve your goals, instead of throwing money and time into trendy channels haphazardly and hoping for the best—and likely burning out your team in the process.
Fewer channels generally mean a more sane and rewarding work experience for the team—and less cost to the business.
And while channel prioritization is one of the most beneficial results of content strategy, it’s merely the first of many potential others. Here are a few more:
- By creating more efficient workflows for content projects, reducing the time and money spent on additional rounds of revisions or lengthy approval processes.
- By developing style guides that increase consistency and efficiency, and reduce revision time.
- By uniting departments and authors with a common goal, creating collaborations that lead to better overall quality and more efficient inter-departmental communications.
This approach also frees your designers and developers to focus on their strengths and reduces the amount of iterations that result when content isn’t prioritized first, which also keeps the design and development budgets in check. (No more “Oops, we forgot to include downloads in the sidebar!” or “Oops, we spent 30 hours developing a GIS system only to find out that users don’t really want one!”)
So before pitching your boss or company stakeholders on a new content marketing initiative, remember to show them how a thoughtfully crafted, content-first plan will save them money, time, and reputation in the long run. Do it right, and content will take the lead in your digital marketing efforts for many projects to come.
Have you made a case for a content-first methodology in your marketing department? We’d like to hear about more tips, tricks, or advice in the comments section.