It’s common to hear the terms “content strategy” and “content marketing” used interchangeably. In fact, it’s such a common occurrence the majority of small business owners have no idea their content strategy is not exactly the same thing as their content marketing strategy. When you work with a copywriter, copywriting agency, or content creator, the focus should be on your content strategy. After all, it’s a major part of the planning process. So just how do you plan a content strategy?
Content Strategy vs. Marketing
According to Wikipedia, a content strategy is “the planning, development, and management of content—written or in other media.” The Content Strategy Alliance defines a content strategy in the most transparent way:
“[Content strategy is] getting the right content to the right user at the right time through [the] strategic planning of content creation, delivery, and governance.”
In contrast, content marketing refers to “any marketing [involving] the creation and sharing of media and publishing content.” The primary purpose is to market in a concentrated effort to reach and retain customers.
The truth is you cannot create a successful content strategy without having at least a model of content marketing. Likewise, you cannot successful market your content without a solid content strategy. The two go together like peanut butter and jelly; they can stand alone, but they’re so much better when combined.
Running a business is time-consuming. Business owners and upper tier management don’t always have time to oversee in-house content creation. Combine time constraints with the fact of only a tiny percentage of the population having what it takes to create high-quality content, and recruitment of qualified employees becomes a challenge. Outsourcing content to specialized providers has become the solution.
If you’re a business in need of content and looking to outsource, your first priority is to select the right content creator. Your second priority will be to understand how to manage your investment best and reap the most benefit.
Nailing Your Content Strategy
A great content creator will be concerned with all aspects of your content, and they will want your input. You don’t need to know the ins and outs of the process to provide useful feedback, but you will need a clear vision and reasonable goals.
Your content creator will be obsessed with your content strategy because it will define their role. In order to nail it, you will need:
- A Target Audience: It’s a huge element of high-quality content. You and your copywriter will need to know the specifics of your target audience, which is made up of your ideal customers. You need to identify them and have an idea of what will appeal to them. Your content team needs to know whom you will be marketing to in order to create valuable, sharable material.
- A Theme: Content isn’t a potluck; it’s not composed of a mishmash of unplanned dishes that may or may not add up to a balanced meal. Potluck content is junk food. It has no real benefit or value, meaning readers will eventually lose interest. As you plan a content strategy, you will need to focus on an overall theme. Make it broad. Specific sub-themes can be expertly woven in by your content team as your strategy takes shape.
- A Voice: Written content is part of your brand’s voice. It’s what establishes you as an authority and sets you apart from everyone else in your industry. Your content strategy will require a clear understanding of the kind of voice you want to project (i.e. hard-hitting, controversial, reserved, etc.).
- A Schedule: Often overlooked, it is crucial to have a content and publishing schedule. Exactly how you’ll let your content team in on your publishing schedule will depend on who handles publishing. But a good content creator will want to know your schedule to best plan and interconnect your ongoing content.
Other Content Considerations
As you plan your content strategy, you’ll want to take into consideration the needs of your business. You’ll need to devise a strategy designed to promote and increase visibility to your online presence. A solid strategy needs to be in place before the content creation process begins.
If you’re new to the concept, don’t fret. A good content provider will want to assist in establishing your strategy. It will be one of the first things they ask to collaborate on before kicking off your content creation.
The Content Marketing Institute offers a variety of informative articles and a 16-page guide for businesses seeking to develop a content strategy. If you’re new to the world of content, it’s a good place to start.
In the coming weeks, we’ll delve more heavily into the ins and outs of creating a working, realistic content strategy coupled with a marketing plan. Be sure to subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss anything!