Let’s talk about content strategy—and why content strategy matters. In the late 1990s, Bill Gates told us “Content is king.” While he was right, and content has continued to evolve as an essential cog in the marketing machine, there’s more to it than that. Today successful companies understand content must be paired with an intentional content strategy to work its magic. Without a content strategy, content falls flat.
Content has two purposes: to increase visibility and drive engagement. In the digital world, content boosts search—and we all know visibility via search is incredibly valuable. Climbing out of the abyss of algorithms and attracting the attention of bots is one thing, but engaging real people is quite another. In our hustle-bustle, content-packed, attention-deficit society, that’s getting exponentially harder to do. That’s where content strategy goes to work.
In the world of content, “If you build it, they will come” no longer applies. For them to come, you have to give them a reason—and that reason emerges from content strategy.
What exactly is content strategy? Good question. It’s not content marketing strategy. Though “content strategy” and “content marketing strategy” are different, they’re powerful and necessary partners. Forbes describes them well in the article “Content Strategy Vs. Content Marketing: What’s the Difference?” Content marketing efforts drive targeted traffic, and content strategy converts that traffic into leads, followers, and customers.
At its core, content strategy is all about the WHY: Why will people be interested in your content? A journalism professor of mine wrote “Who cares?” all over early drafts of my articles. As it turns out, answering “Who cares?” is the heart of a successful content strategy. It’s about defining your target audiences and taking a deep dive into what matters to them, where they are in the customer journey, and what they will take away from your content. Simply put: You can create terrific dog content for animal lovers, but if your audience prefers Fluffy over Fido, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
Content strategy also requires identifying the types of content your audience prefers. Is it blogs? Podcasts? Videos? Social? Email? Magazines? White papers? The list goes on. The bottom line: You need to package your content for your audience.
Competitive analysis is another key element of a successful content strategy. Check out your competition’s content to see what’s worth emulating as well as where you have the opportunity to differentiate. You can do both.
Finally, a comprehensive approach to content strategy necessarily includes developing a strong messaging platform as well as brand voice and brand personality. The messaging platform describes a company’s unique value proposition. For content, it’s a tool to create consistent messages emphasizing the company’s strengths and supporting its strategic goals. The brand personality and brand voice work in tandem to differentiate the company’s identity and how it communicates. Together they set the tone and approach for an authentic identity across all content.
Once you’ve locked in your content strategy, you’re ready to tackle the content marketing strategy—which is essentially how, when, and where you’ll reach your audiences with strategically significant content you now know, thanks to your content strategy, will engage your audiences and ultimately drive results.
If you want to peek at who’s leading the proverbial pack, brands like Mrs. Meyer’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods recently got a shout-out by the Content Marketing Institute in an article titled “7 B2C Brands Offer Content Marketing Lessons and Inspiration.” Central to their success is foundational content strategy elements, including delivering what their audience wants to know, learn, and be inspired by.
Question: Is your content delivering what your audience wants to know, learn, and be inspired by?
A Senior Marketing Manager with Dotted Line, Amy Gerhart Favreau is a strategic thinker, word nerd, and communication engineer. A unique blend of writer, journalist, and marketer—a writer with purpose!—she has more than 25 years of experience, including publishing, agency, corporate, and nonprofit. When not at the keyboard or meeting with clients, you can find her at the baseball field or wandering the stacks at the library.