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Everything Starts With a Marketing Strategy

13 June 2012 BY

It’s time to throw scepticism overboard. Time to bite the bullet. No matter how much we want to deny it, we have to face up to the fact that content is king.

Whether your content strategy focuses on creating highly engaging pieces of quality content, or whether it’s about automated processes that churn out massive amounts of unique human-readable articles – or whatever hybrid model you adopt that sits somewhere on a spectrum between those two extremes – the fact remains that content is the pivot around which all our digital marketing activities revolve.

Content feeds our SEO, it is the fuel that powers our social media, the oxygen that keeps our email marketing alive. Content drives it all.

But what drives the content?

Where do we find the inspiration? How do we determine what angle to approach a topic with? What process enables us to find the right tone of voice and messaging to use in our content strategy?

The answer is, of course, marketing – sans digital. Marketing determines a company’s USP, its brand, its positioning. And those, in turn, drive the content strategy.

Without a marketing strategy, a content strategy will be hollow. Tone of voice, audience segmentation and targeting, USP, positioning, branding, focus areas, all those things are required for an effective content strategy. And all those things emerge from a marketing strategy.

We talk to a lot of companies that want some SEO done, or want to dabble in social media, or want to build a better website. And we’ve learned, the painful way, that we need to ask one question first and foremost. One question whose answer will tell us whether what we do for that potential client will be a success or not. One question that lays out the entire playing field:

What is your marketing strategy?

More often than not, the answer is entirely absent or wholly unsatisfactory. And that means that we have to take a few steps back, and engage the client on an entirely different level. We need to develop a marketing strategy first.

Not all clients are open to that, however. They aren’t ready to be challenged on that level. They just want someone to do their SEO, to help them get started on social media, to make them a pretty website.

Many companies don’t realise that these are all just tactics. They’re not the beginning of digital marketing – they’re the final phase, the execution of a strategy.

But that execution – the website, the SEO efforts, the social media presence – needs a strategy. Without a strategy, tactical execution will be close to meaningless.

There might be some measure of success with tactical execution alone (there usually is, if tactics are deployed skillfully) but these gains will likely be short-lived and not sustainable. Not without a strategy to drive it forward, to provide the fuel for the digital marketing fires.

It all starts with a marketing strategy. This is not the future of digital marketing, it’s the present. It’s what’s required right now for your digital endeavours to be successful.

If you don’t have a marketing strategy, no amount of digital tactical execution is going to deliver lasting value.

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” - Sun Tzu 

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AUTHORED BY:
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Barry Adams is one of the editors of State of Digital and is the Digital Director at The Tomorrow Lab in Belfast, where he leads an expert team providing web development and digital marketing services for a wide range of clients across Ireland and the UK.