Before you can erect a building, you need a blueprint. It shows everybody involved in the construction what the finished product will look like, where things like plumbing and electrical wires go, how big the individual pieces need to be, and how everything will fit together. Without it, no one knows what they’re doing, and no responsible professional would ever break ground until it's been developed and approved.
The same principle applies to content. As we’ve all been told, content is king. But before you can make anything that represents your small business, startup, life coaching work, or personal brand, you need to have a plan. Without a broader content strategy, you’re firing in the dark and depending on luck. If you want to make effective content, a broader content strategy has to come first.
But what, exactly, is content strategy? Here’s a quick explainer on the ins and outs of content strategy, and why it’s so important for online businesses.
Content Strategy vs. Marketing Strategy
Your Marketing Strategy is the overall approach you’ll use when marketing your business. That means everything from market research to networking to attending conferences to pamphlets and other business marketing materials and advertising to online content marketing. It’s how you promote, and manage the promotion of, your business.
Your Content Strategy, on the other hand, is the overarching vision guiding all the online content that represents your business, including your content marketing. That means blog posts, article writing, infographics, and SEO campaigns, in addition to your website, your logos, your digital voice, your targeted client personas, and your social media accounts.
Think about it this way: the Marketing Strategy is how you’ll represent and promote your business; the Content Strategy is how you’ll represent and promote your business in the digital space.
What does a Content Strategy do?
Your content marketing will engage readers, build relationships, and represent you and your brand online. In order to do this effectively, you need to follow a specific strategy that directs the creation of those pieces of content in order to keep them consistent, representative, and effective. it guides you during creation and keeps you focused on consistency among a variety of pieces and media.
Why do you need a Content Strategy?
While it can be fun to fly by the seat of your pants, you need to have a plan in mind when creating things that will directly affect the success or failure of your business. Your content marketing will be far more effective this way, and a content strategy you’ve worked on and developed and believe in will keep you going, and keep you consistent, in the face of long odds or a tepid initial response. That can be more valuable and important than anything else when you’re first starting out.
How do you do it?
While a content marketer might be great at knowing what goes where, and why, the content strategist determines what that stuff is, what it looks like, and what it’s going to say. Know your message, know your story, and know your media—and all of these intimately. Your content marketing will appeal to potential clients and engage them on their own terms, but your content strategy will be how you talk to them and what you say across all aspects of your business.