Over the past decade, the practice of content strategy has gone from hardly recognized to being one of the most crucial elements of a business’s marketing campaign today. As the entire world shifts to digital, being able to create, distribute and manage your content has become much more important, and can be a factor in separating successful, adaptive businesses from those stuck in the past.
Developing a successful content strategy can be quite tricky, and relies on a budget, a buy-in, and some preparation in order to pull it off. These three concepts are heavily explained by Meghan Casey in her book The Content Strategy Toolkit and are necessary for content strategy development because they help allow the team to all be on the same page when deciding which tasks need to be done, who’s playing which role, and what the overall objective of the strategy is.
Before you go out and create a content strategy, the first thing you do is make a budget. This is very important as these numbers can be on your side when you are later presenting a persuasive argument about your content strategy. Content marketing is at its best when incorporated with other marketing efforts, and it is no longer limited to a single department (Hall), as everyone around the business can benefit from a content marketing strategy. The rising importance of content strategy is why John Hall believes everyone should budget for content strategy development.
Meghan Casey shows that budgeting for a content strategy is best when thought of as a Return on Investment (ROI) (16). This allows clients to weigh the risks and rewards of such a plan and to determine whether the potential for success is worth the risk of failure. If the rewards of a content strategy development outweigh the risks, then you have a sound argument towards your clients and will need them to buy in to your idea.
Once you have your problems and budget laid out, you need to convince people to agree to your idea and to be on your project team. If your company or client does not think that your content strategy is worth the investment, they will not buy into your idea, and you will have to rethink your plan if you want to get it in development.
Meghan Casey suggests preparing arguments to persuade your clients towards your content strategy. Whether you are emailing your team, on a phone call, or in a meeting with them, you can convince your audience by staking your claim, backing it up, and forming rebuttals against potential obstacles towards your ideas (Casey, 21-22).
Once your team buys into your idea, form a list of stakeholders to understand what sort of help you need for your project. If you are working for a big company or client, your content strategy will require a lot of people who cover a vast array of roles. Assuming you are the project owner, you will need some decision makers, influencers, and even people who may challenge your project’s ideas and direction (Casey, 28-29). This is your team for the long run, so it is key to make sure they are all on the same page. Your team must collectively align on the project’s objectives. Once everyone clearly understands what the project is about, who it is for, and what they have to do, your content strategy will be ready to develop.
To effectively develop your content strategy, you need to prepare for your success. Set goals for yourself and the organization in order to make the project as best as possible. Because of this, you want to align your team’s goals with the rest of the organization’s goals (McGill), which will ensure that your project will be completed on schedule, and the key milestones and deliverables will be met, if not exceeded.
Making the process as easy as possible requires you to create what Meghan Casey calls a “source of truth,” or a document overview of the project “that everyone can reference” (50). This document is important when developing a content strategy because it prevents any misinterpretation of any definitions or objectives. If that were the case, the project can slow down in production or get completely derailed. Each team member working on the content strategy needs the same understanding of how the project is going to work in order for it to be completed efficiently and for the project to have the highest potential for success. The source of truth includes things such as the project’s assumptions or risks, any major changes that’s affects the project, and clear definitions for any common words that can be misinterpreted (Casey, 51). Being truthful about your project’s objectives and understanding will be the key source to experiencing success when developing your content strategy.
Concept strategies can do wonders for a business’s marketing plan, especially in today’s age of increasing digital consumption. A powerful and effective content strategy can help a corporation experience engagement like never before. While a content strategy may be a new concept, as long as you have the budget, team, and preparation to build one, it is worth integrating into your marketing plan.
Casey, Meghan. The Content Strategy Toolkit: Methods, Guidelines, and Templates for Getting Content Right. New Riders, 2015.
Hall, John. “The Importance of Budgeting for Content Marketing in 2017.” Forbes, 6 Nov, 2016, https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnhall/2016/11/06/the-importance-of-budgeting-for-content-marketing-in-2017/#3cea6ffa6519
McGill, Justin. “How to Develop a Content Strategy: A Start-to-Finish Guide.” Hubspot, 21 Apr, 2020, https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/content-marketing-plan