The difference between a content strategy and a content plan
A strategy without a plan is just a ‘hope’ …however, there is a difference between the two.
I simplify the difference in the following way:
- Strategy = what and why
- Plan = how and when
In this blog, I explain more about the differences, as well as the benefits of each.
Content strategy vs Content plan
Let me explain those initial bullet points above a little more.
Your content strategy should be quite generic. It’s a top down view of what your content marketing both ‘is’ (the what) and what you want to achieve with it (the why). It’s a document that you can refer to constantly – it’s an extension your business plan. It can also be a useful document to share with your team as it gives them an insight in to what you are trying to achieve with your content and to reflect and measure again.
Your content plan is more specific about exactly what you are going to (the how) and how often (the when). It’s relatively generic too and guides your content creation. It’s where you state your ‘minimum content commitment’.
To be clear, in this explanation a plan is not the same as a content calendar. It’s not as detailed or specific. Your calendar states exactly what you are going to create and when, month on month.
A good content plan is like a ‘template’ that you can then ‘overlay’ to help you populate your content calendar and the exact posts, videos, reels, stories etc., you will create.
Bringing the three together… here’s an example: A content plan will state that you will write “one blog each month”. The content calendar will state the title and basic details of the blog and exactly when it will be published. In addition, the content strategy states why you will blog and what you want to achieve from blogging.
Now you know what a plan and a strategy is, let me convince you why you need them!
5 benefits of a content strategy
It takes some research, some of your time and a little effort to write a strategy, but once you’ve done it, it is something that you only need to tweak after that. It’s your very own guide.
Here are five key benefits of creating a content strategy:
1 – Helps you to set goals and measure progress
Your content strategy is about identifying what you are going to do in your content marketing and why. The ‘why’ is often led by business goals that you are trying to achieve through your content marketing. It’s about bringing the two together. Stating them clearly in your strategy documentation and then going back and measuring that progress in order to answer the essential question – “Is my content marketing helping me achieve the goals I set?”
2 – Gives you a good foundation for marketing ideas
With your marketing, do you know why you do what you do? What are you trying to achieve? The process of creating a content strategy includes some research in to your market, your competitors and your past marketing activity. All of this provides a great foundation for coming up with the best and most effective content marketing for your business in future.
3 – Identifies a list of tactics
Related to the above, part of your strategy is to capture what you want to achieve and also how to do this by researching and recording a whole range of marketing tactics to try. This is not to say that you implement all of them, but when you are reflecting on your progress towards meeting your goals your content strategy document is there to inspire and motivate you …it should be a gold mine of tactics and ideas.
4 – Offers an effective record and reference point
We all have days when we don’t feel very motivated or can’t even remember what we are trying to achieve. “What was the thinking behind this campaign?” is a question I often ask. Again, this is where a content strategy is so beneficial as it should record this thinking. Also for audits of past content and your competitors, it’s a great reference document that records this research in one place and can be quickly referred back to, as well as updated.
5 – helps your team to understand your goals
If you have a team or decide to outsource your content marketing or creation, your strategy is a great source of information to share (or parts of it) to ensure everyone is on the same page and understands a) your thinking b) what you are trying to achieve and c) as a reference for marketing experts to make recommendations to help you achieve your goals.
5 benefits of a content plan
Once you have a strategy in place, you can draw out the pertinent elements to make your plan. As mentioned above, a plan is different from a content calendar. A plan is generic. I recommend you detail what you are going to do on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, bi-annual and annual basis, per content marketing platform.
You do not need to state exactly what you will post, you are producing a plan and guide that will help you indefinitely when it comes to detailing your ongoing content.
Here are five key benefits of creating a content plan:
1 – Makes it clear what need to create on ongoing basis
A content plan makes it really clear what needs to be created on an ongoing basis. It makes work load from a content marketing perspective much easier to plan out. I always recommend going for the minimum (who’s got time to do more?) and being consistent. Using your strategy you can then analyse whether this content you are creating is enough (or possibly still too much!).
2 – Helps you prepare in advance and assess creation quantity
If you have a clear plan, stating how much content you are going create on a regular basis it makes it much easier to plan in advance what you need to create and by when. You can also reflect upon the plan with the ‘actuals’ – did you create everything you planned for? Did you create more? You can also batch create content more easily.
3 – Can easily identify items to re-use and repurpose
As I have mentioned before, I use a ‘monthly theme’ to guide my content creation – as part of my plan this makes re-using and repurposing content much easier. Using asset banks in addition to a good content plans means that you can often gather content you have created before in a really short amount of time.
4 – Ensures consistency and visibility – building brand awareness
With a content plan that guides what you are doing and when, you are more likely to be consistent, instead of sporadic. A content plan not only makes content marketing less overwhelming it also helps to increase your visibility and brand awareness.
5 – Supports easier outsourcing
When you have a marketing team, assistant or outsource all or any element of content creation, an overall plan makes it easier to a) get an accurate quote for what you need, b) ensure that the content is co-ordinated if different people are doing different element and c) shows any one else involved clearly what you expect and how often.
Create your content strategy and plan…with a little help
I am delighted to be offering a one-day course on Wednesday 12th October at Worting House, Basingstoke, which will give you a template and training on how to create both your content strategy and content plan. I can’t promise you’ll complete the whole thing – polished and ready – in the day, but you’ll certainly have a fantastic foundation and a good amount of knowledge to underpin what you need to do.
If you can’t make this training or want some one-to-one support, get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org