Content strategy more important than ever

Photo courtesy Scatter/Gather blog.

These days, much attention is paid to the visible parts of our business:  the never-ending one-upmanship of flashy layouts, cool designs, and compelling headlines.  Not to mention the shiny new technologies like social media, mobile apps or streaming videocasts.  But what’s underneath all of it?  It’s something decidedly low tech, but vitally important:  content.  That’s right.  Good, old-fashioned content.

What is content?  It’s entertainment.  It’s connection.  It’s education, information, research and shopping.  It’s actually gotten harder to clearly define in the last several years, mostly because publishing has become so easy.  Maybe a little too easy.

But what makes the difference between good and bad content?  It’s content strategy.  Actually having one, that is.  According to Sara Wachter-Boettcher of Phoenix agency Off Madison Ave, content strategy “helps us make smarter business decisions by planning for content that’s useful, usable, compelling and findable.”  Wow — that sounds so simple.  But how often does it actually happen?  Let me ask the question a different way:  how often have you heard the following words in the last couple of years:  “The client’s taking care of the copy” or “Once we launch the blog, the client will do the postings” or “We’ll just re-use the copy from the existing site.”  Yeah, I thought so.

Maybe it’s time for more clients (and their agencies) to really think through their content strategy.  To go beyond the “look and feel” and the “latest technology” to concentrate on what’s underneath.  There are agencies out there who focus exclusively on content strategy.  But isn’t this what many of us are good at already?  At CCT Advertising, we’re always asking about the “who” and the “why” of a campaign, before we ever jump into the “what.”  Sure, new technologies and publishing tools have made those questions much harder, and more confusing.  And they require not just planning for the content itself, but also creating systems to manage how that content is created, published, managed and maintained.

But that shouldn’t be an excuse for any of us.  So never forget.  What really drives the success of that flashy new social media campaign you just created?  What’s your client’s customer really going to respond to?
It starts with the content.

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