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4 Steps to Create a Content Strategy

4 Steps to Create a Content Strategy
18 April 2024
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4 Steps to Create a Content Strategy

You've just received or put the finishing touches on your organization's latest content marketing strategy. Does that mean you can immediately dive into creating fantastic content? Well, hold on a second there. I hate to break it to you, but that strategy document is practically worthless without a plan to accompany it. Why, you ask? Well, simply knowing your goals isn't enough if you don't have a clear roadmap for achieving them.

An intricate content plan provides the means to harness that understanding. It delineates all the operational, technical, and tactical intricacies essential for steering and bolstering your content endeavors. There's no such thing as a universal content plan template—each brand possesses its own distinct array of objectives, assets, and factors to consider. However, fear not, as here's the next optimal solution: a comprehensive tutorial featuring expert-endorsed resources to streamline the process of crafting a successful plan.

However, before you dive in and start tackling the task at hand, let's address a few fundamental questions:

What constitutes a content plan?

A content plan records all the particular protocols, methodologies, assets, and task-oriented determinations necessary for implementing your content strategy. It acts as a manual for coordinating your content assets and systems.

Furthermore, it regulates your methodologies and collaborative workflows, setting boundaries around your narrative development and production procedures. This plan ensures your team possesses the appropriate tools and resources to generate marketing content effectively and provide a valuable, top-notch experience to your audience.

Does a content plan equate to a content strategy?

Though closely related, a content plan and a content strategy aren't interchangeable. Picture creating a mood board for a personal aspiration to grasp the distinction.

Your content strategy forms the pinnacle of your board, embodying your vision of success. It delineates your goals, stakeholders, and the essence of a fulfilling outcome. Moreover, it sets a thematic framework encapsulating the unique ideas and insights central to your vision.

Conversely, your content plan details the actionable steps toward realizing your vision. It specifies the necessary tasks and their execution, along with the envisioned outcomes.

How do I develop a content plan?

Developing a content plan might feel overwhelming initially, as it involves coordinating various components that must harmonize with your marketing objectives and team dynamics. However, by breaking down your plan into four key areas, the tasks become clearer and the process more manageable.

The good news is, if your team has already established its content operations framework, the first three areas are likely already completed.

The four areas include:

Governance and guidelines: These encompass the editorial quality standards, preferred practices, and guiding principles that define and differentiate your brand's content value.

Processes and systems: This involves outlining production tasks, workflows, routing practices, and the methods and technologies aimed at streamlining communication and collaboration.

Team resources: This section outlines the necessary roles, required skills for tasks, and strategies for addressing any potential skill gaps that may arise.

Content creation and delivery: Here, you'll detail the topics your creative team will concentrate on, their approach to generating and prioritizing ideas, and the specific content types, formats, and platforms you'll utilize.

Remember, the current conditions you work within are not static. Your plan needs to include strategies for adapting to changing business priorities, emerging tech trends, audience preferences, and other shifts over time.

1. Set your guidelines and governance policies

Governance is essential for any editorial program, defining your brand's content experience and audience benefits. It involves documenting standards and practices in communication and audience engagement.

At the very least, begin by outlining your standards, methodologies, and ethos in two critical domains:

1. Your brand's communication approach with the audience.
2. The ways in which your content will benefit your audience.

Specify the unique tone, voice, and style of your content

Clarify the attributes that set your brand's content apart, defining elements such as preferred tone, brand voice, and style standards (covering both textual and visual aspects). These guidelines maintain consistency across all your content channels and platforms.

Establish criteria for editorial quality and value

Your editorial team should uphold the standards that render your content deserving of your audience's attention. Subpar or inconsistent quality can impede content performance and negatively impact your brand's value and reputation.

For guidance on determining which standards to implement, there are five essential benchmarks to consider for crafting a top-tier content experience:

-Findability
-Readability
-Understandability
-Actionability
-Shareability

2. Establish operational workflows

Your content plan should not only set quality standards but also organize how your team operates. This includes defining tasks, efficient processes, collaboration methods, and tool utilization.

Establish Workflow and Streamline Processes

Without clearly defined steps, approvals, and involved parties, you risk breakdowns and bottlenecks in content creation. A clear workflow and efficient processes eliminate guesswork, making job management easier and contributing to content success.

Differentiate between workflow and process:

-Workflow: Sequential tasks for content creation.
-Process: Defines task execution for efficient work completion.

Establish Project Management and Prioritization

Utilize a shared content calendar to spot content gaps and spark fresh audience engagement. Prioritize tasks transparently with a content-scoring process, ensuring focus and productivity. Define clear criteria for task importance and reject projects that strain resources or deviate from objectives.

Remember, content tasks extend beyond marketing. Implement request management policies to clarify how and when your team addresses other departments' needs. Develop a detailed content request form to streamline the review, evaluation, and approval process.

Ensure Quality Control

Maintain high content standards to safeguard your brand's credibility and audience trust. Implement a robust quality assurance process using the accurate content checklist.

Choose Effective Technologies

Ensure you have the right technology for teamwork, from basic tools like calendars to advanced systems like content management platforms. Seek advice on integrating AI effectively into your content marketing strategy, balancing it with human input for optimal results.

3. Coordinate Team Roles and Skills

Ensure all vital roles are accounted for, along with the necessary skills and support to maximize team performance. Without the appropriate human resources, your plan may crumble.

Recognize Key Positions

The success of your content marketing program hinges on your team members, making it essential to establish the appropriate staff, functional roles, and overall team structure through careful planning.

Assess Current Skills and Address Gaps

With the emergence of new formats, platforms, and channels, the need for exceptional content will continue to grow in both quantity and diversity. Understanding how to develop and empower your team to meet these demands is essential for effective planning.

4. Determine Creative Direction and Delivery

Once you've established your team's workflow, it's crucial to decide on the creative output that will stem from their efforts. Planning these specifics ensures everyone remains focused on crafting the distinctive and valuable content that resonates with your audience.

Highlight Key Topics

Focus on a few specific subjects for planning, considering niche areas your competitors overlook or emerging issues where your audience seeks reliable advice.

Generate Content Ideas

To differentiate your brand's content, develop unique ideas and innovative approaches to your selected topics. Although creative brainstorming techniques can aid this process, they may not fully incorporate diverse perspectives or align with your editorial mission.

What's in Your Content Success Plan?

Content success requires meticulous planning and coordination. Understand the necessary conditions and actions and how to orchestrate them effectively. With a detailed plan, you'll have all you need to achieve your vision of success.

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