Walking in a straight line is easy for most people. But have you ever tried it blindfolded?
It sounds pretty easy. You know how to walk, after all. Left, right, left, right. Your legs are about the same length, give or take an inch. You have a good feel for it.
It’s not likely that you have enough open space to try walking in a straight line for a great distance while blindfolded. But lucky for us, many people have already tried it before.
It turns out that we humans are not very good at walking in a straight line when we don’t have reference points to guide us along the way. The same is true for businesses and their content marketing efforts: When there is no tangible strategy document to refer to, marketers often end up right where they started.
Yet many businesses continue to conduct their content marketing with a blindfold on. According to the report B2B Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends — North America, marketers with a documented content strategy are in the minority.
Further statistics in the report show that marketers with documented content strategies are about twice as successful in achieving tangible results through effective content marketing.
The hard truth is that if your content strategy is not written down, then you don’t have a content strategy.
A Simple Solution to a Complex Problem
In the age of the Internet, the marketing landscape has increased in complexity. There are so many touch points, vendors, theories, and new media that just staying in touch with the latest trends can be a full-time job. What most marketing professionals need is a way to break down their content goals into achievable milestones until they arrive at essentially a checklist.
Atul Gawande, author of The Checklist Manifesto, sums up this need very well in the book:
… we need a different strategy for overcoming failure, one that builds on experience and takes advantage of the knowledge people have but somehow also makes up for our inevitable human inadequacies. And there is such a strategy–though it will seem almost ridiculous in its simplicity, maybe even crazy to those of us who have spent years carefully developing ever more advanced skills and technologies.
It is a checklist.
A content marketing strategy is a checklist that is often mapped against a calendar. A thorough content strategy enables accountability, gets your team on the same page, and invites new ideas. The more specific you can make your content strategy, the easier it is for your business to keep moving in a straight line toward its content goals.
But the first step is writing it down.