Most conversations involving content strategy begin with an explanation of what it is. I believe this is incomplete. The benefits of content strategy are best understood in relation to what it does— impacts brands’ bottom lines. Content strategy is the glue that holds together the entirety of your marketing efforts, online and offline.

“Content strategy is about far more than strategy,” I say often to clients. We tend to get caught up in deliverables: Content audits, competitive analyses, tone of voice guidelines, workflows, great website content…the list goes on and on. At their best, these deliverables work together as part of a cohesive strategy.

Problem is, all these deliverables only matter, if they’re put into practice. That is, they require action, which is what gives purpose to your content strategy

Being a content strategist means clearly defining the benefits of content strategy

A content strategist’s goal is is to create and environment where that strategy can come to life. The hardest thing I’ve learned over the last 13 years is the excruciating and exhilarating process of winning people within an organization over to a strategy. After all, it’s my clients who will be on the hook once I’ve moved on to the next project. If they don’t believe in what I create, they won’t succeed in implementing it.

I have tried to win them over by going over each detail. But that’s when their eyes gloss over. The thing is, many of my clients don’t care about the deliverables…unless they know the bigger picture. That’s when the value of each deliverable comes to life. It’s my job to paint that picture for them.

table football game

Content strategists must speak the language of their clients.

Where most content strategists go astray is in thinking their audits, insights, governance documents, work flows, and sundry other deliverables are the goal. They are really table stakes, for what every business owner has as his or her goal is, as CoLab Software’s Mary Keough wrote in a recent LinkedIn post, more revenue.

“The only metric most leaders care about…is dollars in, dollars out.”

So, instead of talking to clients about UX, design, streamlining process, and governance, assign numbers to each area of the strategy and its deliverables to showcase their bottom line benefits.

For example:

  • Content Strategy: “On average, a sound content strategy helps reduce content waste by 25%.”
  • Content audit: “Content audits, which ensure you’re only producing, sharing and optimizing content that’s valuable to your brand, save our customers, on average, tens of thousands of dollars each year.”
  • Content plan: “A content plan allows you to better understand, in advance, what content should be produced, in which format, and by whom. This typically cuts down on content and personnel costs by 30%.”

Remember, our job is to be a bridge between brand and customer

As a strategist, I’m proud to help clients achieve their full potential. At our best, we get to help clients dream big and reach their full potential. To keep my work in perspective, I often think of a  short quote from one of my favorite authors, Antoine de Saint-Exupery. (If you haven’t read his The Little Prince, you should.)

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood, and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

Strategy is only half the battle. The rest consists of helping others see what they could achieve, when that strategy becomes reality.

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