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The Difference Between Content Strategy and Content Planning

7/05/22

Content Planning

Content. It’s a pretty basic word, right? It’s easy to pronounce, easy to understand, and (somewhat) easy to explain. 

But when you’re an entrepreneur or own a small business, content is everything. And one of the keys to success involves a lot of content-related things, which can be anything from content or copy, content strategy, content planning, content analysis, content calendars, content this, content that, and content the other thing.

Yeah, we know. It can get pretty confusing and overwhelming.

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But what the fuck does any of it mean? Is it just corporate jargon, or is there actually a difference between all of these terms? 

Yes, they’re kind of jargon-y. And yes, they are different terms. But they are not the same thing, nor are they interchangeable.

Fortunately, you have us to set the record straight between two of the most important elements: content strategy and content planning. 

Okay…so what is content strategy?

At a super high level, content strategy is about aligning your business goals with content. Essentially, your content strategy outlines how your content will be used to achieve your goals. 

With us so far? Good.

But before you (or someone else) craft a content strategy for your biz, a few things have to happen first. Because, quite frankly, you can’t pull a strategy out of your ass. (As much as we wish it were that easy. Actually, scratch that. That’s yuck.)

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It’s about knowing your why, what, and how

First thing’s first, you need to know why you’re creating content, what that content will be, and how it will help others. When we preach content strategy to new clients, we often use this template as an example:

[BRAND] helps [TARGET AUDIENCE] achieve [GOALS] by creating and sharing [EMOTION] [TYPE OF CONTENT]. 

In case you don’t remember how mad-libs work, that sentence can come to fruition like this:

Uncanny Content helps female business owners achieve their sales and business goals by managing and creating educational, confident, and relevant social, website, and email content.

It’s about knowing your goals and milestones

Next, to build on that strategy, it’s time to get real specific about your personal goals and milestones. Do you want to sell a new product? When do you want it to launch? How many do you want to sell? Or maybe you want to start a podcast. When do you want that to launch? How many listeners and subscribers do you want, and by when?

See where we’re going with this? You need tangible, measurable goals and milestones in order to craft your content strategy. Otherwise, your content won’t have a clear purpose. 

In addition to your goals and milestones, you should also determine a few other elements, like:

  • What problems you’re currently facing: Are you struggling with social media reach? Are you seeing lots of dropoffs along the customer journey? Determine what your biggest pain points are, so you can tailor your strategy to overcome them.
  • Measurements of success: What does success look like to you? Is it more email subscribers? An increase in sales year-over-year? Determining your measurements of success gives you clearer goals to work toward.
  • What content you need to support all of the above: Once you’ve hashed out the above details, this part of your content strategy becomes that much easier to determine. So if you’re struggling with social media reach, maybe it’s time to develop more frequent and consistent content and expand to new channels. If you want to boost email subscribers, maybe you need to create an incentive (like a freebie) to capture more emails.

See how all of this leads to more strategic content? It’s no longer about creating content just for the hell of it or because that’s what you’ve been told to do. It’s about creating content that’s catered to your unique business goals – not someone else’s. 

But a good content strategy can’t just be all about you. 

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It’s about knowing your target audiences

Content strategy is also about knowing everything you can about your target audiences and their customer journey. You need to know who you’re talking to – not who you’re talking at. And part of getting to know your target audience is knowing things like:

  • Basic demographics
  • Pain points and hurdles
  • Online behaviors
  • How or why they can benefit from your product or service

With all of this in mind, your content not only becomes more strategic – it becomes more targeted. It’s telling your audiences, ‘Hey, I know what you’re going through, and here’s how my product or service can help.’

How is content planning different?

As we mentioned before, content planning is different from content strategy, and it can’t be interchangeable with that term, either. Although content planning is part of your content strategy, it should be treated separately. Here’s why:

It’s about processes and workflows

Content planning is more about processes and workflows. It’s about how your content gets created, when it gets created, and how it gets distributed. 

At Uncanny Content, we use this amazing content spreadsheet created by our amazing client Bluchic (hi, Kathie!). This is where we plan content a few months in advance by writing out topics, themes, and pieces of content. We also use this to outline the content and determine how it’ll be used – whether it’s for general brand awareness or warming audiences up before a big launch.

It’s about platforms and repurposing

Another huge aspect of content planning is determining which platforms you’ll use to share your content. We also take this part of the process a step further and identify opportunities for repurposing content.

For example, if videos are your primary form of content, we create a plan for how we can repurpose them into a blog, an email, or maybe even social posts. We are firm believers in turning one piece of content into as many as we can because 1. We’re smart and strategic as hell and 2. We don’t want to work harder than we have to. 

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Need help with content strategy or content planning? We can do both.

Hopefully by now, you see that both content strategy and content planning are no easy feat. Yes, they both take a lot of time and energy, but the payoff alone is worth it. Trust us; we do this for a living. 

So, if you ever want to tap into our content strategy and content planning skills, you know where to find us…because you’re already here. Just set up a call with Latasha, and she can show you what it looks like to do content strategy and planning the right way. 

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Ashley Blonquist, Uncanny Content Writer and Math Enthusiast/Bad-Ass M.C.

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