Not every decision we make on the spur of the moment leads to catastrophic results. Many successful startups adopt a bias-towards-action mindset. Doing something, anything, is often better than standing still, especially in an emerging or dynamic marketplace.
But lack of planning is not a great way to reach your goals. If you want to run a marathon, you'll have to plan so you'll be ready on race day.
Content strategy helps you stay on track
A well-developed content strategy plan supported by appropriated processes and systems can help ensure your content efforts will deliver value on an ongoing basis.
Here are three common traps that content strategy can help you avoid:
#1 Lack of clarity around strategic goals
Why goals are important: Clearly articulated goals clarify what you should focus on. They also help generate enthusiasm and keep your team on track when the going gets tough.
This is not just a content problem: Few runners have the stamina to stick to their training without a clear goal, such as breaking a PR, finishing a race, or even winning one.
Content strategy safeguard: Every content strategy plan worth its salt starts with digging into the evolving needs of your users, members, and readers, as well as those of your organization. This will give you insight into what your strategic goals should be.
#2: Going straight to tactics
Why a strategic mindset is important: It’s tempting to jump straight into tactics (produce more video! double down on social media! triple blog production!) but you need to understand whether they will help reach your organizational goals and serve your customers. A lack of strategy also leaves you without a strong defense when you get an impromptu request from a stakeholder that is unlikely to drive value for the organization.
This is not just a content problem: Runners who follow a training plan but don’t understand the reasoning behind the different types of training sessions often skip the hard interval training sessions that are so critical to race-day success.
Content strategy safeguard: A comprehensive content strategy plan lays out your overall strategies. For example, a strategic goal may be to establish yourself as a leading brand in a specific industry. To accomplish that goal would require understanding who you’re competing with, what your competition is doing, and what types of content resonate with that audience.
#3 Lack of follow-through
Why follow-through is important: To accomplish something that requires sustained effort, you need a way to keep track of what you’re doing, and the flexibility to adjust as needed.
This is not just a content problem: Many people who resolve to start training for a race give up when the going gets tough.
Content strategy safeguard: A content strategy plan shouldn’t be gathering dust on a shelf. Make sure to frequently review and adjust (at least once a quarter) based on evolving business needs or user needs and interests. An agile approach to content development is one way to bake an iterative approach into your editorial systems.
In a nutshell
- Get clarity around your content goals.
- Spend time throughout the year to develop and adjust your overall strategy.
- Create a concrete, actionable plan for reaching your goals.
- Iterate often.