So you reckon you don’t need a content strategy? You can get by with a content calendar, some notes and the determination to consistently put out content? I’m here to argue why a content strategy is important – or even essential to your business – whatever its size.
My own research finds that 43% of new brands operate without a content strategy. More comprehensive research by CMI finds the 86% of high-performing organisations have someone dedicated to the content strategy.
If you are part of those operating with no strategy, then you need to read this blog and understand why content strategy is important.
Biggest mistake you can make with content
Creating a content strategy takes time. And yes, it’s only actually useful if you use it every single day. But let’s not kid ourselves that you can’t get away without creating a content strategy. Lots of businesses do and still produce some great campaigns on the fly.
That doesn’t mean you’re getting the best value for your content, though.
Here is the real issue: creating content is an easy entry point to marketing for many businesses . So you start out creating content yourself. You get some traction from it as well.
Evening and weekends are creating graphics, copy, scheduling. Writing a blog or two. Although you’re not actually tracking how long it takes because you’re not having to outsource it yet. Even if you are the marketing manager in a team of one, this can creep in before you have the resources to grow your team.
What this means is that you’ve not understood the return on investment for your time. Chances are that while you’re putting all of your effort into DIY content, you’re also working yourself to the bone.
And this is why you need to have a content strategy in place. So you know what you are doing, where you are heading, and how much it is costing so that you can see a return on investment.
Content strategy is your map
Think about content strategy as a map that takes you towards your goal. I go into this in more detail in this article looking at what is content strategy. But when you see your strategy as a map then you start to see its value.
Imagine going on a road trip without your sat nav or map. Sure there are benefits to this – the unexpected stop-offs and interesting finds. We’ve often done a mapless trip and discovered a hidden cove or off-beat cafe.
But more often, we’ve found ourselves standing in a trucker cafe, starving hungry and wondering if they might have some fruit hidden behind the counter because there is nothing we’d willing eat in there. There is more hangry than joyful finds on a mapless trip.
However, it’s equally important to look at the landscape when you’re on your journey. Travelling from start to finish, with your eyes solidly on the goal and you’ll miss something beautiful.
Our very first family camping trip was when my daughter was young enough to need regular feed and changing stops. We found some beautiful lakes, cafes and playgrounds on the way. Completely by chance and absolutely not planned.
Your content strategy should be a bit like this – although maybe miss out the times we’ve got back on an A-road in the wrong direction.
You should know where you are going but build in the space for those magical finds. When it comes to content, it could be that your campaign adapts to something that’s changed in the news. Or you’ve had a really brilliant idea that you cannot ignore.
It’s fine to take an alternative route from time to time but you don’t want the whole journey to be one of haphazard guessing and pit stops.
Content strategy doesn’t exist on its own
Content strategy doesn’t exist in its own bubble. It is one part of a bigger marketing toolkit and is very much supported by wider activities including sales and PR. In fact, I’m a huge advocate for your getting to know the people who are doing the sales, PR, CRM, and all other little jobs.
You may work in a small business (or be one person doing it all) but making sure all those stories are aligned is crucial. Often at larger businesses, the content strategy is formed as part of a larger marketing strategy. For many smaller businesses, the content strategy is the marketing strategy.
If you’re in one of those larger companies, I’d wholeheartedly recommend doing a separate content strategy. One that includes each of the channels that you want to use for your brand, plus any SEO and other communication campaigns. Every business I asked about SEO said they had not considered it as part of their content strategy. Now is the time to start bringing this into the mix.
This means you look at the buyer journey as a whole. All those possible little routes and touchpoints they take, including the hidden pages like thank you pages and post-purchase messaging. These are perhaps the most overlooked part of a strategy but can be the most compelling.
If you’re doing it all yourself, it can be tempting to let it all simply exist in your head. But actually getting it down on paper can help firm up your thoughts and stop you from getting distracted by shiny objects.
You will miss out on opportunities
One of the arguments I hear against a comprehensive content strategy is that it doesn’t allow for you to be dynamic. I’d say the opposite is true. If you know what you need to create and when – you save yourself a whole load of time. This frees up thinking space to get truly creative so when you do need to react to an opportunity, you’re not chasing your tail. You have the time and energy because past-you created it in the strategy.
Why content strategy is important
Most of all, content strategy is the thing that will keep you focused on your business goals. It is far too easy to get distracted by what others are doing or a fancy new social media tool. If you have your plan and work towards it, you can add in the extra bits where there are gaps. And you will see better results in the end.
Need help getting your strategy together? Find out how I help businesses create content strategies and work with marketing teams.