I’m sure you, as a savvy business owner, have heard of a content-first strategy. It’s a rather simple strategy that allows everyone (you included) to save a tremendous amount of time, effort, and money. Discovering your primary messages and prioritizing your content in a way that is relevant to your end user takes time. However, the most difficult part is actually putting pen to paper and writing your content before jumping into design or development.
Here’s some food for thought: You’re at home in your comfy clothes and you’re about to whip up an afternoon PB&J sandwich. Before you start, you review all the ingredients you have on-hand because you are definitely not going to the store, it's hot out. Also, getting halfway through making a PB&J and realizing you don’t have any peanut butter won’t go well. This is the same when it comes to design. Having a good idea what ingredients you are working with really helps to craft the perfect snack, and it will save you a costly do-over (we take our snacks very seriously).
We hope that you will approach your content strategy with the same metered approach as your snack making. You’ll put in a little research time with our friends at Google and comprise a list of all the things you need before you start your project. We all have good intentions but you’re also busy and business things get in the way. That’s why you need an advertising agency with a good account executive and project manager to help. They’re there to tell you what you need on your list and to make sure you stay on track.
When you sought out an advertising agency, you may have been thinking, “They can make anything look pretty,” and in part you’re correct. Graphic designers specialize in making just about any message look pleasing to the eye, but they do their job best when they have the message and goals before they start designing. Often times when we skip the content phase and go directly to design, we are foregoing a design that is focused on your desired message. Trying to fit what you want to say into a guesswork design (or a mock-up) will never quite work, and then your message gets muddied.
Content-first strategies are most prevalent in designing a website. Having the content upfront is crucial in knowing how a website should look, how it’s structured, and what features the development team needs to consider. Although it’s true that a website can be changed continually, the time it takes to change designs and features based on new content can be lengthy and costly.
Now, where do you begin in this process? Just pick up a pen and start. Whether your goal is to increase leads, raise brand awareness, or both, there are purposeful words that will resonate with your target audience and make them take action. Keep in mind that your messages do not have to be perfect from the beginning. Throughout the process, you will be able to edit and refine until your desired message takes shape. Remember, you know your business and industry best, but an outside opinion can oftentimes be the breath of fresh air you need to nail down your message. After that’s done, the design and development phases should be a piece of cake.