The business world will always throw up unexpected roadblocks, so it’s great to be able to think on your feet, but adaptability can only get you so far. Without a solid business plan as your foundation, you’ll always be reactive — and it’s proactivity that you need to shape your destiny.
But what does a solid business plan need to include? Your basic finances, of course (can’t get by without stable cash flow), your brand style, and certainly your overarching goals. But something else that demands inclusion is a content strategy: a cohesive set of tactics for creating, optimizing and sharing relevant content.
Why is it so important to factor content into your business plan? Keep reading, and I’ll explain exactly why a content strategy isn’t something you can afford to overlook:
There’s far less value in ad-hoc content
The problem with most businesses isn’t that they never create content, because almost everyone finds the occasional half-hour to draft a basic blog post. The problem is that they create content sporadically, almost randomly, and ad-hoc content doesn’t work very well.
The most valuable content is part of a much greater whole. For instance, you could provide a post on finding work, and have it link through to another post on starting a new job, which would itself link through to another post on earning a promotion. Each post would be more valuable due to being part of a series.
In addition, there’s little use in putting out a blog post if no one reads your blog, and people won’t read your blog if you only occasionally update it. You need a regular upload commitment to remind people to return on a frequent basis — and to meet a regular upload commitment, you need a content strategy. (Just don’t post every day. Weekly is your best target.)
Your content builds your brand
As much as you might hope that word-of-mouth recommendations will be enough to make your business a hit, that simply isn’t realistic outside of very tight-knit communities. You need a brand that precedes you, introducing your strengths and encouraging people to seek you out (or at least remember you as worthwhile).
Through your content, you can introduce new reasons for people to be interested in what you do. You can lean hard into the aesthetic, as is common for luxury brands like Rolex: through its Instagram page, it concentrates on rich visuals to draw people in.
Alternatively, you can focus on establishing authority through providing expert content, as SaaS brands like Shopify do: it offers advice and case studies, encouraging people to trust in the value of its ecommerce system.
Accordingly, your content needs to be consistent in its features: if you want to be an authority, share expertise; and if you want to be popular, share personable comedy. Without content, you simply won’t be able to make enough of an impact upon how you’re perceived.
Content helps you forge relationships
Networking is a key part of the business world, regardless of how you feel about it (plenty of people hate it, while others love it). What you can do is hugely important, of course, but the right connection can make the difference between toiling away in obscurity and getting more attention than you ever expected to receive.
So what makes content so useful for forging relationships? Two things in particular. Firstly, wanting to create some collaborative content is a great excuse to partner with a company or individual you admire, and a great chance to get to know them better. Secondly, offering sites high-quality content to share is a powerful way to get them on your side.
And even if you disregard those things, the consistent production of content is superb conversational material. In the event that you find yourself at a networking event and start chatting to someone else from your industry, you want to have interesting things to say. Why not talk about your content?
Ephemeral content demands planning
There are two ideal types of digital content: evergreen, and ephemeral. Evergreen content is always valuable to someone, regardless of the time or conditions. For instance, a guide on how to cut hair is always going to be valuable, because people cut their hair throughout the year (come rain or shine). Ephemeral content, on the other hand, is designed to be hyper-relevant for a particular time or event — such as a guide on throwing the perfect Super Bowl party.
Evergreen content doesn’t really need a plan, because you can just start working on it and finish it at your leisure. But ephemeral content for predictable dates or events (such as Christmas, or the aforementioned Super Bowl) should be prepared with plenty of time to spare. Instead of throwing together something Christmas-related on the 24th of December, you can start working on it in July, and make it exceptional by the time the season comes around.
Sure, you’ll always want to leave some time to create snappy topical content on the latest hit hashtag or public scandal, but the bulk of your ephemeral content should be planned in advance to maximize quality, distribution, and impact.
Excellent content takes effort and research to produce, but it’s absolutely worth it — and when something’s worth doing, it’s worth planning. Instead of treating it as a secondary issue (and occasionally panicking about it), work it into your schedule, and leave yourself plenty of time to get it done. That’s the best way to bolster your brand.