Ep. 86 | How to Create an Awesome Content Strategy

More than likely you lack a content strategy. Oh sure, you have an editorial calendar. You may have a content marketing plan. You have quarterly business goals. And you may have sales and revenue quotas. What you likely don’t have is a solid content strategy. You don’t even have a mediocre one.

According to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 Benchmarks report, 72% of B2B marketers say having a content strategy contributes to their overall success. Yet, only 37% of marketers have a documented content strategy.

In this episode of the Rethink Marketing Podcast, we return to our conversation last fall with Kristina Halvorson. Kristina is the CEO and founder of Brain Traffic, a content strategy consultancy; the founder of Confab Events, a content strategy conference series; and the author of Content Strategy for the Web. Halvorson is an expert in creating content strategies that fuel exceptional customer experience.

She is an expert on what is and what is not a content strategy. In fact, its our first question.

Content Strategy and the Big Picture

Nathan: When we’re thinking about content strategy, how does it fit in with the overall business strategy and all the other strategies that are floating around within a company?

Kristina: I read a good article recently that broke down four different types of strategies. And at the last two were operational strategy and then functional strategy. And I really see content strategy as a functional strategy within an organization. So it’s helping figure out how to prioritize resources and people in order to get things done that are going to ladder up to the overall business strategy.

So typically what I say is that when you’re thinking about where to focus and prioritize your content efforts, you want to specifically consider three or four things. You definitely want to consider the overall business strategy, whatever’s been delivered by leadership, your user personas, your target customers, who it is that you’re trying to reach or serve. And then whatever function you’re reporting up to or serving, what are their core strategies, and how can you map your efforts to those, how do those act as constraints to your activities? And I’m sorry, brand strategy is the last one that has to inform it.

Nathan: We’ve talked about the user experience. Can you talk about some of the other activity areas of an effective content strategy: the editorial strategy, content engineering, and the workflow and governance?

Connecting the Activity Areas of an Effective Content Strategy

Kristina: Yeah. Those are really the four I’d say, whether you want to call them fields of activity, or disciplines, or functions within an organization, that in my mind the role of content strategy sort of works to connect. And you can talk about content strategy in any of these four areas and [be] using the words correctly. The editorial strategy piece is where I see a lot of content marketing efforts falling. What are you going to publish? Why are you publishing it? What’s your point of view? Who’s it for? What’s your voice and tone? It’s a story you’re going to tell, the information that you need to convey, or the information needs that need to be fulfilled.

And then you think about experience design or user-experience design, which is where and how are people connecting with, accessing, searching for, browsing, and experiencing the content across a variety of platforms, and screens, and tools, and so on. And that requires thoughtful design as well. And then there’s what we can call the content structural components or the content engineering, which is all the things that makes the content work across a variety of platforms. So this is the structural work that happens within the content management system, and that creates the categories and the relationships between the pieces of content.

And then there’s that workflow and governance, which is really just the people and process component. How is content moving throughout the organization, and what are the rules and guidelines that are governing it over time to make sure that it maintains its relevance and integrity and so on? … Phew.

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In our interview, Kristina offers some recommendations for further reading on content strategy. In addition to those, I recommend you read Good Strategy, Bad Strategy by Richard P. Rumelt. I would love to chat with you about your content strategy, or your plans for a content strategy. Good luck!