Love a good metaphor? Me, too.
Here’s one for you: Developing your marketing content is like building a house.
(Ok, technically that’s a simile, not a metaphor, but you get my gist.)
I’m sure you’ve seen lots of other "[Blank] is like building a house” thingies.
But this is a good one, I promise. I’ve been thinking about it for weeks.
Look, I even made a little drawing for you! That’s how serious I am.
Here, let me explain.
BASEMENT = Brand Foundation
When you build a house, there’s only one place you can start, and that’s with the foundation. You can’t start with the second floor. You can’t even start with the first floor. You’ve gotta start by digging out a hole and pouring a sturdy foundation.
Otherwise your house will freaking fall down.
In your marketing content "house," your foundation is made up of your brand elements, like your target market, mission, value proposition, values, etc. It creates a solid base for everything else.
The stronger your brand foundation, the more stable and effective your marketing efforts will be.
Most people don’t want to start here because, well, basements aren’t sexy. In fact, they’re mostly invisible. And full of spiders.
But in addition to creating stability for the structure, a basement also contains the systems that make the whole house function. Ducts, pipes, and wires bring heat, water, and electricity up through the rest of the home. Just like your target market, value proposition, etc. should be woven into all the content you create.
In your real house, you’re not having dinner parties in your basement. Similarly, as a business owner, you’re not necessarily inviting your clients into your Brand Foundation. It’s something you work on yourself, and develop and fine-tune over time.
But without working on that foundation, it’s super hard to build the rest of your marketing “house.”
1ST FLOOR = Website Copy
After the foundation is set, you can start working on the above-ground stuff.
In most homes, the first floor has all the essential elements for living your daily life – your kitchen, bathroom, living room, dining room, etc. It’s the space where your family hangs out, where you welcome visitors, and where you probably feel most “at home.”
Your website copy should function in a similar way.
After you’ve developed your Brand Foundation, the next step is to translate those elements into public-facing language.
On your website, you explain the problem you solve, how you solve it, and why you’re the best. You flesh out your offering and your “about.” You fine-tune language that that hits your target market right in the gut. You develop a voice and a visual brand that express your identity and make others feel comfortable (just like decorating your living room).
Your website is like your marketing “home.” It’s where you come back to at the end of the day. It’s the most official and complete version of your business. And because of this, it’s important to make sure it’s all set before you start adding another floor to your house.
2ND FLOOR = Other Marketing Content
Once your website is done, only then should you move on to other marketing content.
Things like blogs, articles, email marketing, social media, videos, podcasts… these make up the additional floors of your “house.”
Now, I know a lot of people launch their website and their social media profiles at the same time. Or maybe you started blogging before you actually launched a business site. Obviously, I’m not saying it’s impossible to do that. And if you’re just starting out in your business, experiment away!
But what I am saying is: If you want to market effectively and strategically, creating other content willy-nilly before you’ve built the lower levels of your house won't get you there.
In the short-term, you’ll feel like you’re “doing things,” but in the long-term, your efforts won’t add up to much.
However, once you have built your foundation and first floor in a purposeful and complete way, then you can add as many floors to your house as you want!
Sure, it’s easiest to take care of a smaller house (i.e. to choose one or two main content channels to focus on). But over time, you can host more guests (i.e. prospects!) or grow your family (of clients!) by expanding your home (if you want to).
In fact, the more robust your foundation, the taller you can build.
So, in summary, this little metaphor is my effort at explaining why I tell my clients:
No, we shouldn’t just “tweak” your website copy – we need to work on your brand foundation first.
No, you shouldn’t just jump into writing articles or emails yet – let’s get your website cleaned up first.
Sure, that work takes more time and effort than “tweaking” or just writing a blog post.
But it also pays off big time down the road, when you find yourself living in – and welcoming your clients into – a beautiful, functional, custom-built home that meets all of your needs.