By Meghan Bardwell, Heinz Marketing

Fresh

On July 11 and 12, I had the opportunity to attend the Content Strategy Workshops series put on by expert content strategists Scott Abel and Rahel Anne Bailie. The two days in Vancouver, B.C. were filled with intense, informative workshops—with a surprise bonus of gorgeous, sunny weather.

The workshops were a great way to focus my mind and start thinking about content not just as copy or pictures, but as an entire process of planning, creating, and distributing. Marketers are under pressure to produce more and more fresh, interesting content—but do we have a strategy for the entire lifecycle of that content? Is the content that we’re producing creating a good customer experience, providing customers with information they want, and helping them during the buying decision?

The first workshop session introduced the idea of content strategy and why it’s important. One stat that grabbed my attention (and probably that of everyone else in the room) is from a Gartner report: More than 90% of businesses DON’T have an official content (or information) strategy. That’s huge. Creating content requires valuable resources, including time and talent. Why aren’t companies thinking strategically and trying to gain a higher ROI from their content?

All that said, what goes into a great content strategy? Here are some nuggets from the first session:

What is content strategy?
Basically, content strategy is a process of planning out how content will be created and used. Rahel provides a formal definition in her book, Content Strategy: Connecting the Dots Between Business, Brand, and Benefits: “A content strategy is a repeatable system that governs the management of content throughout the entire content lifecycle.” The system needs to be repeatable, measurable (to determine success), and should align with the vision and goals of your company.

Why is it important?
Understanding the value that content can bring to a business through a formal content strategy may be the most important takeaway from the workshops. In her book, Rahel describes why it’s important to think of content as more than just great copy: “These three things together—smart strategy, good content, and appropriate technology—increase the value your content delivers to your business.” She later points out that a good content strategy can increase brand equity, drive sales, reduce training expenses, and so much more. A well-laid out strategy will ultimately increase a company’s profitability, through both increased revenue and operational efficiency.

What makes up a good strategy?
A content strategy includes many pieces. Here’s a brief list of some important points a strategy can include:

  • Style guide
  • Message architecture
  • Content audit, analysis, and inventory
  • Editorial calendar
  • Content flow and transactional content map

Taxonomy

  • A global content strategy may also include these pieces:
  • Localization strategy
  • Translation

More blog posts to come from my time at the workshops!