For many of us content creators, our jobs revolve around plans. An editorial content plan, containing some blog titles, infographics and video ideas, is what the boss, the client and the wider team both want and expect to see. But an editorial plan is not a strategy, it’s a series of tactics. And in the words of Sun Tzu:
“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat”
In the fast-paced world of digital marketing, very few of us are fortunate enough to get the time or freedom to develop real strategy behind our editorial planning.
Here at Delineo, this is something we’ve worked hard to overcome. In this post, I’m going to try and explain how putting a strategy before the editorial plan is really the only way to achieve content excellence.
So how can content strategy help us?
Simply put, a content strategy addresses a series of big questions to help us as marketers serve the right content to the right people, at the right time and for the right reasons.
These questions are:
1. What is the company’s mission?
2. Who are we targeting?
3. What are the company’s business goals?
4. What are the objectives of the content?
Of course, it is possible to come up with good ideas – even great ideas – without answering these questions. But to really work for the right people at the right time and for the right reasons without prior consideration of the business goals? If this is happening, you need to question whether that’s down to content excellence – or just plain good luck.
A content strategy should define where content sits in the whole marketing team. It should give it a place, a role and an objective that prevent it from sitting on the sidelines. If you look at it this way, a good strategy should be the content manager’s best friend – because if you’re sat on the sidelines, you’re not in the game – and it’s the strategy that gives the content team its purpose.
Put strategy at the heart of ideation
I started working in content around five years ago and over that time, the industry has evolved at lightning pace. A world where blog titles were determined by popular keywords and a bit of ingenuity from the content writer nowadays seems ludicrously outdated, and in its place, we’re developing much more refined processes of ideation.
One question that has really characterised the shift for me is: “Where are all the bad ideas?” Before strategy was a fundamental part of the content process, I used to get asked this all the time. And the truth is that really, there were no bad ideas. And even if we did sort some of the wheat from the chaff, these decisions were based solely on the opinions of the people in the room at that time.
A core content strategy should help organisations say no to content ideas. Counterproductive as it might seem, only by saying no to ‘good’ ideas can we start to say yes to the ideas that count.
Next time you’re in an ideation session, funnel ideas through the below process:
See how whether it addresses the company’s mission is top of the funnel, with content objectives only considered once the other boxes are ticked? Even just two or three years ago, putting content objectives at the bottom of the funneling process would have felt unnatural. I can hear the words “SEO value!” ringing in my ears still. But the hard fact is that now, unless your ideas make real business sense, you’re just not contributing effectively. Make the sum greater than its parts.
At the heart of our content strategy rests one simple principle: the sum of the content is greater than its parts. In other words, when we write a blog or produce an infographic for an SEO campaign, we’re contributing much more than just links or shares.
When these individual creations are guided by a core content strategy statement, we’re able to deliver meaningful content that can boost search performance and help to achieve business goals.
Over to you
Are you struggling to put your content vision into action? Do you spend your working days surrounded by ill-formatted Excel tables, with a ruddy-faced superior shaking an elevated fist, bellowing: “WHERE ARE THE CONTENT PLANS?”?
If so, the good news is that we’re here to help. To find out more about how we can help put your vision into strategy and your strategy into action – get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.