Just Do It: Don't Overthink Your Content Strategy

There is a reason that Nike's “Just Do It” slogan has lasted over 26 years. The phrase brilliantly encapsulates both the encouragement and also the impatience of someone talking to an armchair athlete. Just get off your butt and get out there, the voice says. It doesn’t matter what activity you try, or what level your ability. Get off the couch and move toward the goal.

The same sentiment applies to so many other activities in life. Lately I’ve been using it for content strategy to push hesitant marketers up off the couch and into the game of content planning and curation. I’m not talking about creating the content, I’m talking about all the tracking, storage and measurement that comes afterwards.

There is a typical approach to content strategy that I see over and over. Let’s call the company Evergreen Industries. The marketing team at Evergreen is full of smart people. They want to put together a comprehensive marketing, measurement and curation strategy, and they’ve done their homework by reading about the different options and platforms available. And then, they freeze.

The team at Evergreen gets overwhelmed by the options and simply can’t pull together a plan that satisfies all stakeholders. Part of the problem is that content strategy is a moving target, always changing, always offering new, better options that people want to incorporate.

I worked alongside one team that tried for over a year to create a content strategy but never pulled it off. They were crippled by the fear that they would leave out a critical measurement metric, or overlook some flashy engagement tool that everyone else had. They didn’t have the courage to “Just Do It.”

Let me give you a little coaching advice: If you dither on the sidelines you are missing valuable learning opportunities. Know that you will certainly make mistakes, you will fall down and get bruises, and you will overlook or skip key parts of your training plan. But the sooner you can jump into the game, the faster you will ramp up the learning curve.

A few weeks ago I met with the CMO of a large B2B company, and she had her eye fixed firmly on the ball. As we talked, she sketched a rough “game plan” on the back of a scrap piece of paper.

She quickly jotted down the key elements the strategy should include, like channel options, key measurement metrics, alignment with the sales funnel and identifying gaps there, key SME bylines and a curation plan for repurposing archived content. We both looked down at the complex scribbles and long list of required elements.

“Of course, we wouldn’t do this all at once,” she said. “We’d pick two or three things to test and learn, and grow from there.”

In other words, Just Do It. I will be looking for this company to win the content marketing Olympics in a year or so because they have the confidence to jump in and get started, and the dedication to test and learn from new initiatives.

If your team is ready to get off the couch and start moving, here is a game plan for building an early-stage strategy. From this initial plan you can tweak and iterate to your heart’s content, adding an element here or there to personalize your plan based on the feedback it creates.

  1.  Measurement metrics: Experts advise starting with only 2-3 measurement metrics and building from there. This can be as simple as setting up your Google Analytics tracking to focus on the metrics that seem the most important to your business today – for example, email opens, response to Calls to Action (like downloads or comments), and social media shares. Once you have identified the content engagement process that leads to conversion, then you can tweak your metrics to track that process.
  2. Alignment with sales funnel: I have worked with teams that attack this problem from the content end of things, labeling content that seems to fit with different stages of the sales process. Instead, I recommend working backwards and identifying the actual content that prospects engage with before converting – for example, are they primarily downloading white papers or clicking on case studies? And which comes first? Once you’ve built that grid, you can identify gaps in content and also adjust your tracking metrics.
  3. Curation: Tagging is the best way to track archived content so that it can easily be used by key stakeholders including your sales force. I advise tags by type of content, industry, and key business solution featured. In addition, your Content Director should be familiar enough with the archives to pounce on any news-related opportunities to push existing content through social media channels.

Maybe you have your own ideas about an effective game plan, and you’ve been trying to pull together a workable strategy. My recommendation is to ignore words like “comprehensive,” or “inclusive” or “wide-ranging.” Sure, that’s the end game but everybody starts small. Just pick a few elements to focus on and get off the sidelines and into the game. Ditch the excuses and the fear, and Just Do It.