What occurred to strategic planning – as soon as a core component of promoting operations?
You might be saying, “Strategic planning continues to be a core piece of what we do.”
Is it, although? Right this moment’s “strategic planning” usually includes semi-annual or quarterly occasions consisting of “technique making.” Managers and leaders get collectively (typically beginning with bagels and low) to take heed to SWOT analyses, take part in brainstorming classes, and take heed to summaries of recent concepts for the technique.
Don’t get me incorrect. Creating a technique is important.
However after I requested what occurred to strategic planning, I didn’t imply technique making. I meant strategic planning, which includes managers on the applicable ranges of the hierarchy assembly to agree on detailed and prioritized plans of motion for a coming time-frame.
As soon as a technique exists, strategic planning defines which actions, and in what order, will assist it.
Curiously, an absence of strategic planning is the widespread thread amongst each shopper I’ve labored with over the past 5 years, and it’s a barrier to scaling content material methods.
Why doesn’t strategic content material planning occur?
Even larger content material groups don’t know the best way to act large
The reply lies in how content material as a advertising and marketing perform advanced to feed the rising variety of digital channels created over the past decade.
Right here’s what usually occurs. Content material groups work as small inside manufacturing homes for his or her corporations. As the necessity for content material grows, the enterprise provides extra assets. Quickly, content material wants outpace inside groups and require assist from exterior businesses or freelancers. Groups get bigger, however they don’t discover ways to act in a “large” manner.
When the one perform of the content material staff is to serve up an increasing number of content material property based mostly on requests, there’s no have to plan and prioritize. Every little thing is equally necessary to the technique.
The content material staff will get large with out studying what it means to be large.
How strategic planning lets groups act large
Right here’s an instance based mostly on a content material advertising and marketing staff I labored with lately. Over the past two years, the staff doubled its content material manufacturing, added six extra content material creators, launched two thought management media platforms, and helped advertising and marketing drive extra enterprise into the pipeline.
However the extra they add, the extra they battle. The content material leaders fear that:
- The standard of content material has declined
- They’re shedding govt assist for the worth of what they do
- Different departments really feel impatient with the tempo of content material manufacturing
They questioned in the event that they have been attempting to do an excessive amount of and in the event that they’d grown too large. After I requested concerning the planning workflow, the reply made me query whether or not they’d allowed the staff to “get large” in any respect.
They’d lately applied a brand new consumption type the content material chief can use to make use of to prioritize requests. The content material staff tries to satisfy service stage agreements for various sorts of content material and reply to all requests for property.
However that course of received’t clear up their problem. It’s like including a microphone for taking orders earlier than the shopper’s automotive arrives on the fast-food drive-up window. It merely strikes the issue. Sure, they’ll take and course of orders sooner, however the bottleneck of manufacturing all of the meals being requested continues to be there.
They want the flexibility to behave large – in different phrases, to make strategic plans about what content material to supply as a substitute of solely taking requests.
A strategic planning course of that occurs in between the consumption course of and the content material creation course of helps groups act large within the following methods:
1. It balances proactive content material plans with reactive requests
If in case you have a advertising and marketing technique, you must strategize and prioritize some quantity of proactive content material (deliberate) content material. When the content material staff’s calendar accommodates practically all reactive content material (i.e., requests from different teams), there isn’t a plan.
You’ll all the time want some stage of reactivity. However to scale high quality together with amount, it’s essential to strategy content material creation as a forward-looking course of, not one during which you’re all the time late by the point the request hits your inbox.
A strategic content material planning course of includes setting expectations, outlining wants, agreeing to timelines, defining anticipated outcomes, and prioritizing actions for a coming time-frame.
These agreed-on actions align with enterprise priorities. The output is forward-looking content material creation, manufacturing, and activation calendars that say sure to some tasks and no to others. Over time, it shifts the stability from reactive requests to proactive content material.
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2. It clarifies content material staff capabilities
“It’s not what you do,” a content material chief as soon as instructed me, “it’s what they suppose you do” Strategic planning helps you talk what the content material staff does so the entire group understands what you do.
In case your staff has created (consciously or unconsciously) a mystique round its tempo of content material manufacturing, it’ll all the time be judged by the newest request fulfilled. Irrespective of how giant your content material staff turns into, it should by no means be thought of strategic.
The strategic content material planning course of includes growing an inventory of goals from the broader advertising and marketing or enterprise technique and the discrete and measurable steps for a way your staff will accomplish them. Then, it’s essential to talk (early and infrequently) that you simply’ll deploy content material staff assets and capabilities to assist these goals. This step offers goal, readability, and transparency to content material prioritization. Put much more merely: It offers the content material staff one thing to level to when denying content material requests.
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3. It creates a content material seat on the desk
Strategic planning lets content material priorities evolve as enterprise priorities change.
If it’s solely responding to advert hoc requests, the content material staff would be the final to listen to about enterprise technique modifications.
Content material groups with out a strategic planning course of typically get labeled unresponsive or proof against technique modifications. However strategic planning places content material on the advertising and marketing and communications desk and offers it the ability and agility to evolve because the advertising and marketing or enterprise technique modifications.
Don’t concern rising large (even when it means extra processes)
When ought to a once-small content material staff turn out to be strategic about planning? It typically occurs later than it ought to as a result of individuals fear that it provides unneeded forms into what had been a “responsive” and “agile” staff.
However don’t resist the change.
Massive means you’ll be able to afford issues. Massive means you’re forward of the sport and might take dangers. Massive additionally means utilizing phrases like course of, possession, governance, and requirements. It means conferences that focus not on the content material itself however on how groups work collectively. Massive means taking duty for not performing too large and overcommitting.
Getting large modifications the character of your work. Strategic planning could take away you and others in your staff from doing work you like. However it additionally introduces you to work that shall be a brand new journey. It might pressure you to surrender your staff’s collaborative (however now too sluggish) decision-making and transfer to a command-and-control (however extra environment friendly and efficient) course of.
However your need to carry onto your present work, the flatness of your staff, or your acquainted workload can hold your content material staff from ever getting large – even when it grows.
Content material groups that deny their bigness find yourself retrofitting their infrastructure, processes, and technique. It isn’t fairly.
So, prepare for bigness. Don’t concern strategic planning, and don’t keep away from it.
As you develop, do the strategic planning work. It takes the ache out of rising pains and retains the dream in dreaming large.
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Cowl picture by Joseph Kalinowski/Content material Advertising and marketing Institute