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Strategy - a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.

Strategy beats no strategy

Can your content marketing strategy pass this simple test?

When I start working with a client, one of the first questions I ask is: “What’s your current content marketing strategy?”

I ask this for two reasons: First, because I am genuinely interested in their current content marketing strategy. The second reason is to test if they really have one.

The answers generally fall into 3 categories:

  1. We don’t have a strategy — that’s why we need Content x Design.
  2. We have a strategy. It’s documented and I can share it with you so we can see how it might need revising to meet our current objectives.
  3. Our strategy is to…. [Proceeds to list a series of tactics] 

I can work with any of these three groups. But the third is by far the hardest. It reminds me of a line from one of my favorite movies: “You’re the worst kind: You’re high-maintenance, but you think you’re low-maintenance.”

In this case, it’s “You think you have a strategy, but you really have no strategy.” Like the movie quote, it’s perhaps overly simplistic and definitely not something anyone wants to hear directed at them. That doesn’t mean it isn’t sometimes true.

Strategy vs. plan

A strategy is more than a plan. We all know that on an instinctual level. But sometimes, we get caught up in the daily grind, and we forget the cornerstones of strategy: what objective we are driving toward, and how we will measure our progress.

The word strategy is so frequently misused, in fact, that I fear it’s losing its meaning. So, at the risk of being pedantic, here’s the definition:

a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.

Oxford English Dictionary

Many of the companies in bucket #3 think they have a strategy because they have a plan of action. Plans are important — in fact, the title of this blog post is paraphrased from former U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s quote “plan beats no plan.” But they should not be confused with strategies, which live one rung up on the ladder.

The second part of the definition is crucial: A strategy must be designed to meet a specific aim. Unfortunately, I’ve seen many “strategy” documents that do not include objectives or metrics for success. Without these crucial components, there’s no way to determine whether and when to double down on your strategy, optimize, or pivot.

Having a specific goal is an essential element of strategy. And yet many “strategy” documents do not include objectives or metrics for success.

What gets measured matters

To help reinforce that the strategies offered by Content x Design are based on real objectives and metrics, you’ll see phrases like “data-based” and “results-oriented” throughout this website. When we deliver a content marketing strategy, you can bet it will include specific objectives and metrics for success.

I even created my own phrase to describe how I work: SMART content. Our content strategies are designed to produce specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely results. Or, put simply, they are strategies in the truest and best sense of the word.

So, does your business have a content marketing strategy, or just a plan? Comment below or schedule a consultation today.

Jennifer Roth

Jennifer Roth is a senior marketing communications professional with extensive experience developing innovative strategies for informing, guiding, and motivating people. Her unique blend of creativity and analytics has created value for a wide variety of organizations, from mid-sized local businesses to Fortune 500 corporations.