So many of us start by saying something like:

  • “We need a brochure.”
  • “We need an ad.”
  • “We need a social media strategy.”

That is the WRONG place to start. Don’t start with the content.

Don’t fall over in shock. That’s right—I just told you not to start with the content. Instead, start with something much simpler: “What are we trying to say?”

Start in the Right Place: Four Potential Fixes

I have been so lucky to consult with some of the largest brands in the world, and I see all of them making the same mistakes you probably make. They think about how they want to say their messages, before they think about what they are trying to say.

Starting with a brochure, or a microsite, or a Facebook page just means you are perpetuating this mistake. For many of you, changing this approach is challenging. You are positioned in siloed departments that don’t allow you the freedom of integrated marketing. Communications sits outside of PR, which sits outside of marketing, which leads to workflow that doesn’t work, data that doesn’t make sense and a lot of head banging everyday (and not the fun kind, either.)

Here are some suggestions to combat your organization’s issues:

  1. Focus on the RIGHT START: Start with what you are trying to say. Work with your colleagues, no matter their department, to begin defining your message.
  2. Pilot an integrated project: Convince your execs that better work comes when all heads are together in a room. Try an integrated project that shows what magic can happen when you wave your wand at an idea, instead of a piece of content.
  3. Back to your customers: Focus on your customer’s needs. They may need all different types of collateral—not just a brochure, not just a website, not just a postcard. By thinking through their needs, learning styles and communication patterns, you will produce better end collateral.
  4. Hire a consultant: Content strategists and process engineers can help you learn where you are leaking efficiency in your workflow. Perhaps you think you already know. When we consult on workflow issues, we always find there’s a combination of the obvious and the hidden that are causing workflow problems. A consultant can look at your issues with a different point of view and bring fresh solutions.

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