The development of your content strategy is a process that’s unique to your organization. Every detail of it comes down to what you’re aiming to accomplish as a business, what audience(s) you need to reach to accomplish those feats, where those audiences “live” in the world of content, and so much more. As a result, there are many steps your team must take to outline, define, and deploy your content strategy. But here, we’ll outline 6 simple but essential steps to use as your framework to ensure nothing is overlooked.
So what is a content strategy, and what makes it different from a “content marketing strategy” or any other term you might have heard? And what goes into its development? Read on for answers to these questions!
Content Strategy: A Definition
To define your content strategy, you need to first look at it in the context of your content marketing strategy. Content Marketing Institute shares a great overview of the difference between these terms, with a note that, while the phrases below are often used interchangeably, there are distinctions.
- Broad: Content Marketing Strategy
- Defining what makes your content valuable, why you produce it, and for whom.
- Mid-Level: Content Strategy
- The production and management of your actual content.
- Detailed: Content Plan
- How exactly you create and deploy your content, which resources you use to do so, key topics … the specifics.
Steps on Your Way to Content Strategy Development
Ideally, your content strategy and content plan should go hand-in-hand. The execution of your content must follow the specifics you outline in that content plan in order to hit the goals and reach the audiences you’ve taken the time to define. So here are 6 steps you need to take in the development of your own successful content strategy and plan.
1. Content Marketing Strategy Development: Who, What, Where, When, & Why
Before you begin creating content, you need to understand why you’re creating it and who you want to reach. And you also need to know how to reach them (on what platforms, through what visual mediums).
This requires an analysis of your company’s mission and values alongside your goals, your audience, and your industry. But the process is neither simple nor brief. So if this isn’t a familiar exercise in your organization, consider bringing in an insights and strategy firm to help you define these parameters.
2. Form Your Content Team
A company’s content marketing may be an internal endeavor. Or it may be outsourced depending on what kind of team you have at your disposal. Regardless, this should be a team with clearly defined roles. So who is your production manager? And who defines your content strategy goals? Among your team, who keeps the content targeted toward your defined goals? Who writes and/or designs this content? Further, who manages publishing on your various platforms and channels?
Even the best-laid content strategy is doomed to failure without a faithful and informed content team at the helm to make it happen and push it live.
3. Discuss Your Content Strategy
Now that your goals and audience are defined, what are you going to produce? Infographics, motion graphics, and interactive media designs are just some of the examples of the dozens of ways you can reach your target customers, investors, and other audiences. Assess who you have on your content team and what production goals you have — coupled with what you’ve learned about your audience — to help make these choices.
And don’t just talk about them. On the road to your content marketing strategy development, you surely documented key findings, or had them documented for you by your insights firm. So make sure you do the same every step of the way with your content strategy and, eventually, your content plan.
4. Determine Deployment
Now you’re zeroing in on the details of your specific content plan. You don’t just have goals and mediums defined — you may even be starting to develop a content calendar. But who will push your content live, at what intervals, and how? Without proper planning, even engaging content can fall through the cracks.
Coordinate your social channels, press releases, and other efforts. In this way, you can ensure that the same planning and expertise that went into your content development also goes into the strategy for helping your audience find it.
5. Build a Full Content Plan
Goals — check. Team — check. Audience — check. Rollout plan — check. Put it all together and what have you got? The makings of a content plan.
This goes back to documentation: you should have a place to store the information about all of these elements of your content production in one easy-to-access, well-organized format. This might involve a tool of some kind, but it’s also OK if it’s just a spreadsheet! What matters is that your team knows how to navigate, execute, and update it.
6. As You Get Going, Analyze & Discuss Results
Your team is churning out on-target content like they’ve been doing it all their lives. You’re feeling great about each piece that crosses your desk and all launch dates are being met. So we’d call that a success, right? Hopefully! But the only way to know for sure if your content is hitting the goals you’ve set, resonating with your audience, and driving results such as click-throughs, contact form fills, session sign-ups, product or service purchases, and more, is to analyze your results.
How you do this will vary greatly depending on your goals. For example, goals related to site traffic or similar metrics may look to Google Analytics or the like for the key to understanding your success. Conversely, if it’s purchase-driven, your commerce management platform may be the place to look. In any case, the most important component of analysis is to choose the right place to look and the right metrics to focus on, which all go back to the specific goals you formed at the outset. It’s easy to be distracted by new and unrelated metrics, and they may help you form new goals! But first, place importance based on the original definition of success for your content development strategy. Then, once you’ve analyzed this, you can expand and modify future goals from there.
To learn more about how to manage creative projects, check out the new book from Killer CEO Amy Balliett, Killer Visual Strategies: Engage Any Audience, Improve Comprehension, and Get Amazing Results Using Visual Communication. Here’s a sample of what you’ll learn:
By uniting your team around a well-defined set of goals, a honed system of production, and success metrics, you’ll be able to move from, “What content strategy?” to “This year’s was our best content plan yet!”