What's a content strategy

Know how to contribute to your business objectives

This question is like kicking in an open door, yet a very important one. Most brands have a rolling yearly content marketing planning instead of a proper content strategy — two important things to know.

First, what is a strategy?

Second, why your content strategy is not a spin-off of your marketing strategy. You should align the content strategy with the brand strategy to create impact. 


Definition of a ‘strategy’

My own definition is based on 'Good Strategy Bad Strategy' by Richard Rummolt. 

A strategy is a plan to get from point A to point B and how you allocate your limited resources to get there. In line with your objectives, you define the KPIs. Not to measure a ‘good’ or ‘fail’. You use the KPIs to measure your progress and know where to tune and tweak to improve. 

A: your current situation, where you are at. Including the definition of the problems you are facing. 

B: your desired situation. A.k.a. The objective and your ambition, where you want to be in x time. This can be in 6 months, a year or more long term like 3 years. 

  • This objective is based on data from trends in society, industry insights, the SWOT of your brand, and your brand strategy. 
  • And it is measured with 3 KPIs. Stick to 3 macro numbers for the management reporting. In the daily reporting for the team, go micro and very detailed. Why 3 and why macro? Management likes easy does it overviews, therefor take 3, maximum 4. If you have more KPIs, you go more micro, and it’s macro that matters. How the content contributes to the business objectives, not which posts got the most engagement. 

Limited resources
To get where you want to be, you need to allocate what’s limited. Usually, that is your team and other resources. Budget always is an issue. And the digital maturity of your organization is also a thing. If you want to have top-notch content and social distribution, you need to know the game. If you are just starting in the digital era, ‘you have to learn to walk before you can run’. That takes time. For this digital maturity, usually, it is the senior management that is the problem, not the working bees. Hiring a cheap social savvy millennial will not do the trick. 


How to get your content strategy

There are three options to get your strategy in place. 


First, hire an agency. There are many excellent agencies that can compose a very good content strategy for you based on your organization and data. However, you need to implement this strategy. And that’s the catch. If you have the great PowerPoint deck, who is going to run this show within your organization? 

Do it yourself

Second, DYI. A good option, yet you do need to have the senior resources and team in place. Hiring a ‘Content Manager’ who is going to develop the strategy, implement it and run the business is set up for failure. That’s like having three job descriptions in one. 

  • A ‘strategist’ is a heavy senior with lots of experience and abstract data-driven knowledge — including excellent stakeholder management.
  • The ‘implementation’ profile is a bit more hands-on and needs to have the experience to set up, build, and manage the team. And have the political skills to manage and update the stakeholders. 
  • The ‘running the business’ is a different profile. They are safeguarding what has been set up and taking it to the next level. With excellence in team management and operational business. They lack the abstract level and overview of the strategist and the seniority for the implementation. 

Usually, a strategist gets bored once the strategy is in place. This should take about 3 to a maximum of 6 months if your brand and organization is very complicated. The implementation gets more operational and requires other expertise. There are a few strategists who excel in the implementation as well. However, these are hard to find. If you do find them, mostly they are independent consultants or interim managers. 

Go interim

There comes the third option, hire an interim manager to push the buttons and set up the team along the way. As mentioned above, you need two to three different profiles to get your content strategy, implementation, and the team in place. To hire a strategist, you hire someone for one maximum of two years. Usually, these people do not go for permanent employment as they get bored as soon as their job is done. To hire the ‘running the business’ you have a lack in the seniority you need to get the strategy in place. And you need this seniority in-house, not in the agency.


My advice

My advice is to go for the third option. Of course, I am biased, being an interim strategist myself. However, over the last 15+ years, brands hired me to make up for their mistakes and not move the content needle by options one and two. Yes, an interim strategist is far more expensive than an employee. These are the benefits, an interim…

  • Has the expertise and seniority needed. And she or he has seen all pitfalls and mistakes made by others. 
  • Hits the ground running and does not require extensive onboarding. Therefore your time to market shortens. 
  • Has your agenda. Meaning no political interference or their own agenda. A good interim manager is there to solve your problem and make herself redundant as soon as possible.
  • Is not needed full time. From experience, maximum 3 days a week, and if they do not deliver the content strategy in 3 months, you should reconsider. 
  • Has no risk. If they don’t deliver, it is very easy to end the contract.  


Next steps

How to find that interim strategist? Ask around. Ask your network for recommendations and reviews. The best strategist is found via via, not via a LinkedIn search. Or go to your recruitment agency. They know the best people in the market. And still,  ask for a recommendation and review for the specific interim manager. 

Or contact me. Again not biased at all ;). If I am not available, I am always happy to recommend some of my excellent peers and other nerds in the content industry. 


Photo by Oyster Haus from Pexels

Fleur Willemijn van Beinum

Hiring a ‘Content Manager’ who is going to develop the strategy, implement it and run the business is set up for failure. That’s like having three job descriptions in one

Fleur Willemijn van Beinum