The 4 Essential Truths of Content Strategy

Some plans are just wishes. Other plans define the task and the purpose, pointing the team’s individual work into a coordinated effort. This post will tell you about the process of content strategy, a process that will bring your internal knowledge and genius out to the world, in an effective and coordinated effort.

Everyone loves to make promises. Not everyone likes to build process to fulfill those promises.

  • It’s easy to say “we should write blog posts,” or “we should have a podcast.” But as my good friend Dave says, “But what does that look like on a Tuesday?”
  • And what about social? Is it just a random, uncoordinated outreach platform you use sometimes, then not for a while?
  • And if you’re like most companies, you have a mailing list, full of people who’ve said they want to hear from you, but you don’t use it except maybe for an email blast.

If it doesn’t work for people and teams, then it just doesn’t work.

I’d like to propose that we all say goodbye to the one-off approach to content distribution, count our costs and map them and set our budgets. And instead of waiting until we have a blog post to promote, and then scrambling to remember all the things you need to do in order to share it, you make a plan that will ensure it happens every time, without the headache.

Note: This article covers the basics of how to make this work with other humans. The practical article is equally interesting: it’s how to specifically delegate creation of the media plan. It’s a free, plug-and-play plan. So look for that coming up.

Let’s light this candle.

Keep Your Mix Simple

The publishing mix is where you think about what channels to use. Channels are the platforms you use to spread your messages, like social channels, blog or mailing list.

The lazy way to choose channels is to research where your customers spend their time. But before you start thinking about where your users are, consider what kind of interaction you want to have with them.

Your audience may love Instagram. But what good is it to meet them on Instagram when you have a product that makes no sense on such a visual medium?

Or what if they use Instagram only when they’re sad, and you have a product that only sells to happy people?

So before you think about where they spend their time, think about the experience you want them to have, and then find the channels they use that will allow you to give them that experience. Only then should you think about the social media they frequent.

Schedule

Now that you’ve thought about the kind of interaction you want to have with them, think about when they’re most in the frame of mind to want to have that interaction.

  • A dude might be thinking about what to get his valentine at 4:30pm on Valentine’s Day.
  • A dog mom may be thinking about her dog’s mani-pedi on their daily walk.
  • A dad might be planning his family’s camping trip during his lunch hour at work.

Make an educated guess and test it.

Budget

Budgets get people moving. And not just because they dole out money. I’ve run into this enough to know that it bears saying: if you don’t provide a budget, people don’t know what’s expected.

  • Budgets preserve sanity: If I tell a writer how many hours I expect something to take, this helps them know how much work you expect them to put into it. So it helps their sanity.
  • Budgets smooth communication: If you tell someone how much you have to spend, then they know when to alert you of unexpected costs, so you don’t go over. So it helps communication and decision making.
  • Let’s not forget the obvious: It helps you know how much inbound traffic you’re getting for each dollar spent.

Budgets add sanity, confidence and measurability.

Other than the straightforward budget concepts above, consider the fact that, if you have a media channel that is making you money, think about what would happen if you put more of your budget there? Would you make more money? Of course, your company still needs the capacity to be able to fill more orders, or you need to raise prices to keep up with demand. Assuming you have capacity, the other option is to ask for more budget.

Seriously. If spending another $10k on media will make you $20k in profit…do it.

Measurement

Complicated plans don’t work. Even relatively simple plans can seem hard at first. So…

Find a place to start. Keep it simple. If it’s not simple, it won’t work.

Look, everyone knows that website visits don’t give you a complete picture of how well your campaign is doing, but it’s a place to start. In fact, the smarter you are, the simpler you’ll make the first measurement goals.

Still not convinced? Then think of your staff. You might be (and are) smart enough to find a sophisticated way to measure success. But you know much more about measurement than is actually practical to implement immediately.

  • If you’re building a team, people can’t follow plans that are complicated.
  • There are a lot of moving parts in your plan. It’s easy to go too deep too fast. Make sure the basic stuff is working.

If you try to get too fancy, right off the bat, you’ll find implementation to be impractical and confusing.

Get a simple baseline and ask for simple improvements. Your natural curiosity will get you asking the right questions.

Summary

If it doesn’t work for people and teams, it just doesn’t work.

No matter what plan you use, I hope this post helps you get beyond some of the communication and planning issues we sometimes gloss over in an effort to move on in our busy jobs and helps you get your knowledge, genius and point of view out into the world. And do it in a way that inspires action.

Need help? Before you embark on this journey, consider your brand. Compelling content is great, but if your brand doesn’t earn their trust, it might compel them to get someone else to help them. At Resound, our system focuses on brand first, positioning you as the one who can help. Contact us to find out more.

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