What’s your strategic story?

The pressure to continuously churn out fresh content has driven most marketers at one time or another to “borrow” ideas from other people’s web content just to get something out the door. This may be expedient, but it dilutes thought leadership because your organization loses the opportunity to share its own unique perspective.

So how do you communicate that perspective and keep pace with content demands? A little bit of smart process goes a long way:

Be strategic.
Give focused consideration once or twice a year to what your organization wants and needs to say. Use that as your compass to guide decisions about what to publish when and in what forms. Keep it simple. Are you looking to brand-build, drive sales, raise awareness or reposition? The answers will help define your priorities.

Flesh out your story.
Once you know your strategy, you can tease out campaign-specific subthemes. Which differentiators do you most want to promote in the next content cycle? Make these your strategic stakes in the ground.

Create an action plan.
“Operationalize” your messaging with an editorial plan. Work out content angles and formats to deliver the stories you’ve identified. Some may work as one-offs, some as series. Some may be fodder for blogs, others for eBooks or videos. Think about how frequently you need to publish, and lay out a calendar for the next quarter, six months or year.

Involve your thought leaders.
Yes, their time is usually pressured, but if you can nail down when you need their input most and get it through a quick interview or email questionnaire (rather than a rambling, blue-sky meeting), you’ll be putting your organization’s own best thinking out there instead of cribbing someone else’s.

Obviously, some flex needs to be left for adjustments as reality unfolds, but having a map to guide you can relieve a lot of the pressure around content development. Instead of wondering, “What will we throw up on the blog next week?” ask yourself, “What is our strategic story for the next fiscal year?”