Defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as ‘a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim’, the word strategy has been around for thousands of years, ever since the first army general decided that random fighting would never win a war. Now, the word is ubiquitous in all areas of life, from business to sport, manufacturing to finance. If you’re going to achieve success in any field you need to have a strategy. And, of course, the world of content marketing is no different.

Done well, content marketing is one of the most strategic forms of marketing around. Print ads, TV, radio, outdoor, online banners, all are fairly simple in their model: create the ad and put it in the right place to reach the most amount of people. However, content marketing strategy pulls together a number of mediums over a longer length of time to perform a number of key roles. Those roles could be anything from simple brand awareness to the more complex loyalty scheme launch. Whatever it is, a campaign will stand or fall on the strength of its strategy, which is why most CMA members adopt a strategy-first approach when it comes to working with a brand.

Given the astounding amount of platforms available to the marketer – owned, earned and paid – it should be no surprise to discover that you need a solid, reliable and versatile content strategy in place before the first piece of content is created. Brands need to be able to navigate the media landscape knowing that the pieces of content will be pulling together in the right direction to achieve the right result.
Content marketing agencies have an editorial strength at their core, an instinctive talent for saying the right things to the right people in a calm and considered manner. But without an effective strategy, a lot of that talent could be wasted.

Good content strategy extends to all corners of content marketing, especially the measurement stage. With the amount of techniques available for analysis shooting up in the past few years, evaluation has become a complex business, social analytics becoming increasingly important for any long-term campaign. While the consumer is said to be ‘always-on’, so now is the evaluation, with digital and social analytics constantly monitored for feedback into certain areas of the content.

All this planning, creation and analysis needs an expert hand to guide it, which is why many content marketing agencies are creating the Strategy Director role. The Strategy Director will keep on top of all trends and developments in content and measurement, offering that all-round knowledge and experience to their clients. And, like good strategy itself, it’s a virtuous circle. Good planning leads to good content leads to good results leads to better planning leads to better content and better results.

Sam Upton