Why You Need a Content Strategy and a Content Plan

Let’s clear up something right off the bat—a content strategy and a content plan are different things. They are two integral parts to your content marketing efforts, and yes, you need both a content strategy and a content plan. After all, content marketing is driving serious revenue for brands. In 2019, the revenue of the content marketing services industry is expected to exceed $50 billion.

You certainly want your piece of that. But you have to have the right foundation in place to realize the ROI.

These two elements should work together to fuel your content marketing. Developing both is central to your success. Let’s find out why.

First, we’ll start with defining what each is.

What Is a Content Strategy?

There are many ways to define content strategy. The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) defines it as your “why.” What does that mean? Well, it’s about who you are creating content for and how that content will influence and help your target audience with their challenges.

Your content strategy must include research (industry and competitive), goals, messaging, and themes, all while focusing on your ideal buyer and his or her needs, motivations, and challenges.

Think of it in this way: a strategy enables you to keep the train on its tracks heading toward the right destination. It prevents detours from sprouting up and derailing your efforts.

On the technical side, content strategy encompasses the creation, publication, and governance of your content. Within your strategy, you have to manage every piece of content and its path from ideation to distribution.

To support your strategy, just like the train needs its tracks, you’ll need the right technology and tools to keep you moving full steam ahead.

What Is Content Planning?

content planning meeting

Your content strategy could be considered your vision. Your content plan is how you get there. Your strategy will never make its mark if there is no clear plan on how to put it into action.

Content planning is all about processes and workflows. It’s the structure by which your company determines which content initiatives to execute, and when. It can help you overcome the challenges you face daily with content marketing, including:

  • Ensuring content is unique and relevant: collaborative planning helps you get more ideas from more stakeholders
  • Account for resources at hand: with better workflows and processes, the team you have is more effective and productive
  • Optimized engagement for every piece of content: with a content plan, you’ll be able to give every piece of content the attention it needs so that it maintains high engagement
  • Keeping on schedule: with a content calendar, you’ll be able to mitigate the common issues that content teams have with staying on top of timelines, tasks, and projects

What to Consider in Content Planning

When content planning, there are many considerations to ponder. You have to decide what you will do and how you will do it.

Take the time to think about these things:

  • Do your topics align with the themes and messaging in your strategy?
  • Is every piece of content going to be something your target audience will want to consume—is it relevant and helpful?
  • Does the type of content make sense for your audience? For example, are some of your buyers more interested in video versus long-form content?
  • Does your industry have seasonal or promotional time periods? How will those affect your plans?
  • What content opportunities have you found through your competitive research? For example, does your audience appreciate data-driven whitepapers but there aren’t any out there?
  • Do you have a content repurposing plan? Can you take an eBook and break it down into individual posts? Can you make an infographic and interactive video with the same data?

What Are the Elements of Content Planning?

So, you have lots of questions to answer to inform your content planning, and there are several components that are critical to developing your plan.

  • Documenting production and content workflows: all stakeholders and team members are following the same process and you have efficient workflows that mitigate roadblocks
  • Content calendar: visible scheduling on a central content marketing software platform that enables easy updates and communication
  • Onboarding and training: building a smooth and repeatable setup to eliminate friction
  • Promotion and distribution: identifying the right channels to connect with your target audience
  • Transparency and communication: instant collaboration between team members to ensure unobstructed teamwork
  • Measurement and optimization: being able to track metrics and have access to analytics

Content Strategy and Content Planning: Forever Interwoven

content strategy and a content plan interwoven

Your content marketing success is absolutely influenced by your ability to develop a content strategy and execute it through your content plan. Back to the train analogy. If the content strategy is what keeps you on the track, the content plan is the fuel that keeps the train moving.

You can’t get to your goals without both. They are tightly interwoven and dependent upon one another. Let’s look at a few examples.

Your content strategy includes your key messaging, which may be that your product has a superior differentiator that your competitors don’t have. Thus, your content plan should demonstrate how you can leverage this by defining specific topics, format types, and where to distribute this content.

Looking at it from a goal perspective, your content strategy may have a goal of delivering a certain number of content pieces per week. Your content plan will need to detail how you can accomplish this, what workflows are involved, and how to improve processes.

Another example would be that your content strategy has identified major themes to cover throughout the year and has further noted that these themes are important to your target audience. Your content plan needs to then flesh out these themes and determine why they are critical to your buyers and how to convey this in the right content formats.

In the world of content marketing, you have a very intricate ecosystem. Your content strategy and content plan are some of the most significant parts, and they cannot operate independently.

It may, however, seem overwhelming to connect your strategy to your plan. That’s why so many savvy content marketers depend on a content marketing software solution like DivvyHQ. See how it can revolutionize your content planning by requesting a demo today.