Do you have a good handle on your content strategy?
When thinking about how to create a content strategy that works, there are a lot of intricate details to consider… and there’s also a lot of misleading information out there. It can be hard to sift through all of the “shoulds” and land on a true strategy.
Your content strategy is not the same thing as your content to-do list.
It’s not a list of blog posts to write, videos to post, or emails to send.
Instead, your content strategy is a comprehensive, integrated look at how the content you create supports your goals.
Unfortunately, we still live in an era where the prevailing messages around content creation are based on myths that cost you time, energy, and money.
If your content strategy amounts to, “post X times a week” or “finally email my list,” you’re not alone. But you’re also not doing your business any favors.
In this post, we’re going to discuss some of the biggest misconceptions, and how to flip the script and create a content strategy that works for you. Because at the end of the day, if your content strategy isn’t supporting your goals, it’s wasting your time.
Let’s dig into five of the biggest content strategy myths.
Content Strategy Myth #1: Visibility = Success
Remember the seagulls in Finding Nemo?
They’re all sitting on a rock shouting ‘MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE’ to anyone and everyone (and no one).
Sometimes, this is how content creation feels. Like the seagulls, content has become so overwhelmingly prevalent that it’s turned into a constant background noise we can’t get away from.
So let’s talk about one of the biggest content strategy myths out there: If you’re not visible, you’re not successful.
Visibility Needs Context
Swap out the word “mine” for “more”, and those seagulls start sounding a lot like the content marketing gurus out there: more content, more visibility, more presence, more serving, more more more.
But more doesn’t mean better.
Business is nuanced. There are people out there who have never posted a single social media post, who haven’t sent their list a single email, and who have never gone on Facebook Live… and they’re wildly successful.
Why? Because they understand their audience. They know what their audience is looking for, where they’re searching, and how to respond to those inquiries.
Developing a content strategy that works is like shopping at Home Depot. You have a HUGE number of tools at your disposal, but you have to find the right ones for your project. Buying a new lawnmower won’t help you retile your bathroom.
There’s no point in posting on LinkedIn if all of your clients come from in-person networking events. There’s also no reason to have a strategy for a platform your audience doesn’t use.
Creating a solid content strategy involves considering not just where your audience spends its time, but also why they’re there. And it acknowledges that sometimes visibility happens behind the scenes and in small, impactful doses.
Instead of immediately trying to get more visible in more places, ask yourself:
- What does my audience journey look like? Where does my audience spend time at each point of the journey?
- How do most people find me? Can I emphasize that platform or avenue and downplay (or eliminate) my time on others?
Content Strategy Myth #2: The Fast Fashion Content Mentality
Who doesn’t love a good garage sale? You never know what you’ll find lurking amongst the piles of clothes, silverware, games, and furniture.
Even something that doesn’t look so great on the surface can lead to great upcycling projects. In fact, I’ve found some of my favorite belongings at garage sales—a lamp that sits in my living room corner, a workout shirt that fits me just right, wall art that’s followed me through move after move.
It may seem strange to equate content to items at a garage sale, but the analogy isn’t far off. Upcycling content isn’t so different from repainting a scuffed table.
Unfortunately, just like the fast fashion industry that pushes consumers to constantly buy new clothing, content strategy seems intensely focused on continually producing new content. It’s what we call the “fast fashion content mentality,” and it’s based on the misguided perspective that old stuff no longer has value.
That’s simply not true.
In fact, some of your most impactful content may be gathering dust as you read this.
Instead of opening up a blank document and trying to come up with yet another pithy anecdote, you could be reaching back into the archives and brushing off something you already created. Not only is updating old content great for SEO, but your evergreen content could provide some of the biggest boosts towards hitting your content goals (here are three specific pieces of content you can look at shifting to evergreen).
Attention spans are short. I guarantee you, no one will care if you recycle content. If anything, your audience may appreciate it. And your to-do list certainly will! So, when developing your content strategy, make sure upcycling old content is a part of your plan.
The next time you’re scratching your head, searching for content ideas, ask yourself these three questions:
- What have I already created that my audience really resonated with? Where can I re-share it?
- What have I already created that’s important, but didn’t get much traction? Can I look at how to update and reposition it?
- What have I created that I never shared, for one reason or another? Is now a better time to release it?
Great content is created with intention, and you may have already done a lot of the heavy lifting. Take time to go back and look at your past content.
Content Strategy Myth #3: One Size Fits All
Once, several years ago, we were receiving a TON of new clients from a single source, and they all wanted the same type of launch sequence. The strategy was already already planned, and all we had to do was write.
Sounds perfect, right?
Well… not exactly.
For some clients, the launch model they wanted was great. It matched up with their audience size, their place in business, and the type of content their followers wanted. It made sense.
But for others, it wasn’t a great fit. Their business either wasn’t in the right place yet, the model didn’t match their audience’s method of communicating, or they didn’t have the engaged email list that the model relied on.
Yet all of these would-be clients were determined to stick to the model, even as we started to realize what was happening and pushed back. Why?
Because their mentor promised that, no matter what kind of business they had, and no matter what stage it was in, their strategy would work.
And therein lies the problem.
One of the most frustrating developments of the last decade or so is the proliferation of people who are convinced they know the one way to achieve success.
In the age of online gurus and saturated strategies, it’s tempting to think that what worked for someone else will immediately work for you.
Unfortunately, that’s just not true.
You can’t slap a single solution on any business without considering the unique situation that business is in. There must be room for nuance when creating a content strategy, otherwise it simply won’t have the desired results.
An effective strategy requires finesse. Existing templates and plans provide a wonderful starting point, but they’re just that… a starting point.
So what happened with our sudden surge of clients?
We took on the clients who were either:
- In a position to use the strategy (with some tweaks), or
- Willing to work with us to develop a strategy more aligned with their business.
The others, we kindly directed towards additional resources and referrals, letting them know that we were there for them when they were ready. Yes, it meant we turned down business. But it also meant we were able to stay in integrity and save people from spending a lot of money on a service that wasn’t a good match for them.
If you’re struggling with your content strategy, take a look at where your strategy is coming from.
Are you trying to replicate something someone else did, down to the letter? If so, it might be time to give yourself permission to be flexible.
There’s nothing wrong with adapting outside strategies to your own. But adapting is the key word here. Otherwise, you end up in a square-peg-round-hole situation.
Whatever content strategy you create should, first and foremost, be aligned with your needs and your goals.
The next time you’re worried that the strategy you chose doesn’t fit the business you run, ask yourself:
- Where did the strategy come from? Who gave it to me, and how is my business similar to (and different from) theirs?
- What does my audience respond to? Where do they spend time? Is my strategy aligned with them?
- What does the data tell me about my past content? Can I use that to adapt my strategy in a meaningful way?
Content Strategy Myth #4: Set It + Forget It
Your dream content strategy may look like this:
- You decide on your goals.
- You map out a quarter year’s worth of content.
- That content gets written and scheduled.
- You give it zero more thought and run off to the beach.
This might work some of the time, but inevitably, life happens.
To create a content strategy that truly works, it needs to have flexibility built into it.
Take one of our long-term clients, Dr. Sonia Chopra. She is a ROCKSTAR and wants to automate as much as possible, so we created a content calendar based on her specific goals that got her months ahead. That way, she could relax and not feel that last-minute content scramble anymore.
And it worked. She was able to focus on her clients, go on vacation, and rest easy knowing her content was flowing.
The true benefit of her content strategy was the way it embraced flexibility. Yes, clear goals were in place. Yes, her content team knew exactly what to create (and when). But when life threw some curveballs, our client wasn’t so attached to her set-it-and-forget-it mentality that we couldn’t adjust.
This meant we could revisit her content strategy when…
- TEDx called to let her know that her TEDx Talk proposal had been accepted. Suddenly, we needed to switch things up!
- COVID impacted her industry, and we needed to change up her messaging to respond to the crisis.
- She decided to create a new course, and shifted content topics to prepare her audience for the fresh offer.
Content should serve your business. And while setting it and forgetting it can help you sometimes, it can’t be so rigid that you’re stuck on one set path.
Instead of aspiring to set your content with tons of pre-planning and then completely forget about it, consider creating better systems around your content. Some examples:
- Create a content library, so you know exactly what you have, and where. This will make it easy to shift things when the need arises.
- Prioritize content strategy over content creation so your content has a better chance of helping you hit your business goals.
- Create a content data dashboard so you can see what’s working and what isn’t, at a glance. From there, you can triage changes strategically.
- Create a content strategy that works for you… but leave space for changes. Instead of having a goal of being 3 months ahead, have a goal of being responsive to your audience and the real world, while reducing your content stress.
You never know when you might get the call that you’re wanted on the TEDx stage. When you do, will you be able to adjust your content strategy in a meaningful way?
Speaking of TEDx, let’s shift gears to our final content strategy myth…
Content Strategy Myth #5: The One-Hit Wonder
Everyone loves an overnight success story.
But I think, deep down, we all know that almost every “overnight success” is the result of a lot of behind-the-scenes hard work and effort. That TEDx Talk didn’t come out of thin air!
No one perfect piece of content will be THE ONE that sets you up for success.
While there are a few viral success stories out there, the vast majority of us find success through the less sexy method of putting out strategic, consistent content. If something goes viral, awesome. But putting all of your eggs in that basket won’t serve you in the long run.
Instead, it’s important to know your goals, create high-quality content (rather than relying on clickbait), and serve your audience. Your content should work to build a relationship with your people… not to trick them into following you.
If you’re waiting for that ONE piece of content to go viral, here’s what we recommend instead:
- Do some digging into your data and figure out where your people are already spending their time.
- Optimize those pieces of content. Make sure they’re up-to-date and have a clear CTA that works for your current business goals.
- Repurpose the content in multiple ways to reach more people.
- Continue using data to make decisions, so you can feel confident in your strategy, instead of waiting for GaryVee to retweet you.
Next Steps: Create a Content Strategy That Works For You
There’s a lot to think about when considering how to create a content strategy that pushes toward your goals.
To flip each of these myths around, here’s what to keep in mind:
Focus on being visible in the right places at the best times, in a way that connects with your audience’s place in their journey towards paying customer.
Minimize Content Churn
Instead of creating new content all the time, look at the past content you’ve created and how you can leverage it within your content strategy. Think about what you can turn evergreen and what can get repurposed.
Adopt a Custom Strategy
Instead of trying to adopt someone else’s strategy wholesale, create a content strategy that works for you and your business. You can draw inspiration from other strategies, but don’t forget to adjust them to match your unique situation.
Develop Systems Around Your Content
Make sure you and your team know how to react when the unexpected happens. Whether it’s a crisis or a big windfall, you want to be able to adjust as needed.
Focus on Consistency and Quality
It’s not about one amazing piece of content — it’s about a collection of content that speaks to your brand’s story, voice, and values. Continue to showcase your expertise through strategic content, rather than pinning all your hopes on a single piece.
Ready to create a content strategy that works for your business?