Clients ask us all the time, “what is content strategy?” It’s a fair question as it can mean something different at every agency and organization. What doesn’t change is an agreement that content is a crucial part of any marketing plan.

At Harlo, every project we take on is led by strategy, especially projects that include content. We build our strategic insights of genuine truths about your brand. We uncover those truths using a discovery process we refer to as The Four C’s: Catagory, Company, Customer, and Connections. While we generally use them for brand strategies, we’ve applied them to content strategies to create four tips for telling better stories.

Company: Know Yourself, Know Your Brand

In our process, the brand always comes first. In order to understand the right stories to tell and audiences to target you have to know who you are as a company and brand. Your brand is not your product, logo, or website. It’s the way people feel about your company. It’s the why behind what you do. Your brand is what builds loyalty and wins the hearts of your customers.

Take time to understand your company, your purpose, what you stand for, what makes you different and your business goals. Put these things into a living Brand Synthesis document. You might think your brand evident to your employees and customers, but until it’s on paper it’s hard to be certain. A successful content strategy begins with a solid understanding of your brand, so make sure you have it dialed.

Customer: Identify A Specific Audience

As any stand-up comedian will tell you, it’s important to know the room. It’s how comedians know what material to turn to, when to pause for laughter, and when to retool when things have gone a bit off. Sound familiar?

As content strategists and marketers it’s important to know your audience. A successful content strategy includes carefully considered personas that accurately define your customers. Consider what drives your audience to purchase and create stories that engage with those beliefs. The key here is to get as specific as possible. Narrowing your target will help refine the stories you’ll tell and platforms you’ll use.

Category: Research Trends In Your Industry

Content Strategists are constantly on the lookout for new trends. The reason for this is two-fold. Knowing about new trends can key you into burgeoning new mediums or platforms, giving you an opportunity to be a pioneer. New trends can also inform story opportunities and the chance to define your brands position with a unique and informed opinion.

Researching trends in your industry will set you up to develop an effective and informed content strategy. It keeps you in tune with new opportunities and on top of what your competition is up to. Great content acts the same way you hope your customers will. It’s agile, engaged and responsive. Your content strategy should do the same.

Connections: Find The Stories People Connect To

At this point, you're hopefully picking up on the trend. Content strategy is all about stories, connections, and engaging the right audience. If you’ve nailed the points above and mapped out a smart content strategy then the rest should be easy. This is where you flex your creative and strategic muscles at the same time to execute on your planning.

If you’ve mapped out a clear content strategy then the right stories and connections should come flowing in. There’s no for us to say what exactly you should be sharing, and that’s the point. You should let your gut understanding of the brand and context guide the way. Trust all the work you’ve done ahead of time and react in a way that’s genuine. Your audience wants authenticity and knows it when they see it. Tell them a story you both can believe in.\

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