How I do content strategy:

“In my experience, the content strategist is a rare breed who’s often willing and able to embrace whatever role is necessary to deliver on the promise of useful, useable content.” – our queen, Kristina Halvorson

Part 1: Research

A good content strategy isn’t based only my own thoughts. It reflects what our audience needs within certain contexts, so we can deliver the right information to them, at the right time, in the best possible way.

The research phase (aka “discovery”) tends to be some mix of:

  • Content audit, including content performance analysis
  • Competitive analysis / audit
  • Keyword/SEO research
  • Workshop with team and/or internal stakeholders
  • Audience internet behavior observations
  • Audience 1-1 conversations

What’s most important here is that I ask good questions, leave my own bias at the door, and not be tempted to move into solutions before I fully understand the problems.

Part 2: Insights

After being heads-down in research, I come up for air, go for a long walk, read a book, sit in a park, and then go over all of said research to begin making sense of it all in an organized fashion.

Insights bridge the gap between the research and the strategy. I usually present insights in deck format, with lots of the juicy research bits included in the appendix and notes included to allow it to be a takeaway document. Occasionally, insights will be presented and handed off as a document, like a dossier of sorts.

Regardless, insights are:

  • Outline of research process
  • Most interesting/surprising/useful findings
  • 4-8 key learnings
  • SWOT analysis across all elements (content, SEO, etc.)

Part 3: Strategy!

Content strategy identifies the clients’ or business’ unique opportunity to reach a business goal with content, also defining what that content looks and sounds like. It should be, above all else, actionable and digestible.

A good content strategy makes lots of important decisions:

  • Who do we reach?
  • What does our content help them achieve?
  • How does that work towards our business goals?
  • How do we measure success?
  • What topics are we uniquely positioned to talk about?
  • Which formats and channels resonate with our audience?
  • What are the most valuable next steps to take?

Typical deliverables include:

  • Definition of successful content
  • Content goals that help us achieve our mission
  • Tactics that align to content goals
  • Content pillars (the core topics that reflect customer needs and topics that the client/business are qualified to talk about)
  • Content types (formats that support your marketing goals)
  • Distribution channels

Part 4: Activation

A content strategy is only as good as it can be acted upon. Once our strategy is in place and we’re all feeling good about it, I’ll provide either an editorial calendar or a roadmap (sometimes both).

An editorial calendar shows deliverables to be expected on certain dates and is a spreadsheet that can be referenced and used by teams.

A content marketing roadmap shows deliverables but more so how to get there, with detailed steps to show how to complete the process. It often takes campaigns, launches, events, and otherwise big moments into account.

Both of these documents serve the purpose of laying a foundation for a long-term, sustainable content creation practice.


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