Content Marketing
Content Marketing Strategy vs. Execution: Finding the Ideal Balance

Content Marketing Strategy vs. Execution: Finding the Ideal Balance

November 17, 2020
4 min read

Content marketing is a contact sport. Just like any coach, you’re in charge of preparing for the game and carrying out those plans. Such is the life of a content marketer, where you must balance content marketing strategy vs. execution.

You can’t “win” at content marketing without a solid strategy. Nor can you do so without the ability to execute on it consistently. Let’s look at how both of these functions are critical to your game plan and how to find the right balance.

Quick Takeaways:

  • A fruitful content marketing return for your organization requires both strategy and execution.
  • Different resources and tools are necessary to handle both sides.
  • Finding the right balance ensures that you can consistently publish content that’s relevant and engaging for your audience.

Start with a Strategy

Your first play should be a content marketing strategy. The good news is that most of you have one. According to a Semrush survey, nearly a quarter of organizations don’t have a content marketing strategy!

Image: SEMRush

For those with a well-documented content marketing strategy, you can expect to benefit greatly. The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) reported that those that fit within this category are the most successful.

Having a Strategy Doesn’t Mean Your Content Marketing Is Effective

Just because you have a strategy, it doesn’t mean it’s effective. This is something many organizations struggle with due to a variety of reasons. They don’t have leadership buy-in, resources are slim, it’s just words in a document, or it’s not really a cultural foundation.

It’s easy to get derailed with your strategy. It’s also something that’s living and breathing. It’s not static. Rather, so many things, internal and external, influence it. Just consider the pandemic impact. This global health crisis changed the message and strategy for basically every company.

However, you can’t dwell on your strategy and stop executing it because it’s not perfect. It never will be. You have to start somewhere with good enough and then look at your content performance analytics and data to determine if your strategy is on point or way off.

What Makes a Content Strategy Effective?

If you aren’t sure if your strategy is effective, then it’s time to find out. In general, the most successful ones have these attributes:

  • Specific definition of goals and the KPIs (key performance indicators) you’ll rely on to measure effectiveness.
  • Detailed and heavily researched buyer personas. You must really know your audience to develop content that will resonate with them.
  • Types of content (blogs, eBooks, webinars, video, etc.) you’ll use and how they align with your buyer persona preferences.
  • Channels you’ll use to disperse and distribute content (social, email, paid, etc.)
  • Tools you’ll need to develop content workflows, track audience behaviors, set up campaigns, aggregate analytics, and leverage automation.
  • Foundational language that should influence every piece of content you create (value prop, USP (unique selling proposition), elevator pitch, taglines, vision statement, and mission statement).
  • Content production goals (how much throughput do you commit to every month—check out these insights on blog frequency, for example).

If your strategy addresses all these points, you should feel pretty confident that it can be effective. The challenge for many is how to execute it.

Content Marketing Execution: Turning Strategy into Action

Coaches create game plans with precision, and then they attempt to execute it. They know they’ll have to course-correct along the way because the unexpected is inevitable. When you watch an NFL game, you know these guys are professional athletes, the best of the best, but you can also tell when they aren’t executing—dropped passes, sacked quarterbacks, and huge mental errors.

That can all happen in content execution as well. Strategists lay out the plans for a content team to be successful. Yet, the same challenges keep popping up. Some of the biggest around execution are consistency and content creation workflows.

Consistent Production and Content Workflows

According to the CMI, 32% of marketers said their content workflows were either fair or poor. Additionally, other research confirmed that 60% of marketers find producing content consistently as one of their biggest challenges.

Image: Zazzle

There is certainly reason for friction here. However, it’s not difficult to improve this part of execution. Technology is the answer. A content marketing platform can streamline workflows, provide you with dynamic content calendars, and help you identify where the impediments are.

For example, you might have a few design resources, yet they’re necessary for almost all types of content. If that’s what’s slowing your production, you can consider hiring more in-house talent or outsourcing.

You’ll likely never have “enough” resources. But redistributing them and augmenting your team with outsourced talent can help you reach your content production goals.

Data Should Influence Execution

Execution isn’t on autopilot. The content performance data you generate and analyze should inform it. It could change your strategy, as well. For example, you may learn that your audience has a high preference for visual content over written content. You’ll change your execution of tactics based on this to meet your audience’s expectations better.

Execution Requires All Hands On Deck

Sports teams huddle and put their hands together to show they are one. Your content marketing team should do the same when it comes to execution. Much of this comes down to accountability and transparency. When you have a technology platform that tracks the status of every project, you’ll have a clear picture of who isn’t playing their role.

Then it’s time to investigate the issue and find out what’s actually happening. It may be a time to coach up, add resources, or make a cut.

Finding the Right Balance for Your Business

Content marketing strategy vs. execution is a core concern for any organization committed to content marketing. Having the right balance means your strategy has all the essentials, and you refresh it regularly but aren’t getting caught up in it being perfect. On the execution side, it means analyzing why you aren’t meeting production goals and how to fix your strategy so you hit your goals.

These two areas are necessary for achieving wins in content marketing—more traffic, leads, and sales. And we can help!

If you’re ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content published consistently, check out our Content Builder Service.

Set up a quick consultation, and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Get started today and generate more traffic and leads for your business.

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Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula", and Founder of Marketing Insider Group. Recognized as a Top Content Marketing expert and Digital Marketing Leader, Michael leverages his experience from roles in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as his leadership in leading teams and driving growth for thriving startups. Today, Michael delivers empowering keynotes on marketing and leadership, and facilitates actionable workshops on content marketing strategy. Connect with Michael today.

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