Content marketing strategy: shifting from urgent to strategic

The first step to solving a content marketing problem is admitting you have one. Unfortunately, what organizational leaders often think is the cause may actually be an effect.

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Content marketing and brand journalism are increasingly recognized as important elements of an organization’s branding and marketing effort. However, some organizations crank out copy like it is being fired from a Gatling Gun thinking quantity is the key to success. Leaders become frustrated with a lack of return on the effort and miss the point that quantity doesn’t necessarily equate to quality. They fail to accurately identify the tyranny of the urgent as the root problem.

The No. 1 cause for the impotence of a content marketing strategy is a perpetual state of organizational urgency hiding a lack of leadership and its inability to develop – and stick with – a meaningful branding and content strategy. Okay, admittedly that statement isn’t scientifically researched but I’ve worked with enough organizations to list it as a major contributing cause for an ineffective content marketing strategy. Let’s look at that statement in parts.

  1. A perpetual state of organizational urgency. Organization that always seems on deadline with no creative margin and where every project seemingly carries the label “highest priority” is operating in a frenetic state of urgency. Urgency is often created by an inability to prioritize.
  2. Hiding a lack of leadership. Unfortunately, if every project carries a “priority urgent” label and everything always seems due all the time, then the spastic workflow creates enough distraction to hide the fact that those who are  supposed to lead aren’t leading; they aren’t providing direction, setting priorities or developing workflow processes.
  3. Inability to develop and stick with a meaningful branding and content strategy. Maybe you’ve been a part of a work environment where targets seem ever shifting and you feel attached to a pendulum swinging in whichever “strategic” direction the  winds blow. It’s not fun and it is difficult to ever realize “content traction.”

On its surface that statement may seem harsh, but the only chance of having an effective content marketing strategy is for leaders to identify priorities and set identifiable objectives – targets – at which content is consistently aimed. (Knowing if you have the right content is just as important and I wrote previously about “Content marketing done the right way.”)

Here are four ways leaders can shake off the tyranny of the urgent and shift to a strategic content marketing strategy.

1. Identify priorities

Everything can’t be the most important thing, so identify those two or three things that communicate the essence of your organization. What’s the “take away” you want people to get? Mix in a healthy amount of “repeat often” and you begin to build momentum for your brand through content marketing. Priorities also expose the “urgent” distractions. Established priorities are scope creep repellent.

2. Develop a strategy

It is much easier to develop a coherent strategy once organizational priorities are in place. Priorities allow you to establish desired outcomes then enable you to work backwards from those goals to develop the strategies you need to reach those goals. A good term for this is “end visioning.” Know where you want to go based on what’s most important, then map the course that gets you there.

3. Don’t forget branding

This seems obvious, but it is amazing to me the number of organizations that undermine themselves by failing to leverage their branding opportunities through their content marketing. People expect you to promote yourself in your content and certainly accept it if you are creating value for your readers and followers. Failing to connect your content to your brand is a total waste of time and money.

4. Stick with the plan

This is without doubt an element that torpedoes any traction gained by content  marketing and most often reveals a lack of committed leadership. If you’re confident you’ve established the correct priorities and a strategy was developed to advance those priorities, then commit to it. If the plan keeps changing before outcomes are realized then those weren’t actually priorities. Worse, leaders who chase the wind looking for strategy kill employee morale and create an employee lack of confidence in their leadership.

Content marketing and brand journalism can lead to a big thumbs up for your organization by creating loyal followers and customers. Quality is always better than quantity, and priorities are always better than urgency.

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