Inside the Mind of a Content Strategist

We don’t often stop to explain how we think. We just take it for granted because it’s how we’ve always seen the world. For this post, however, I thought I’d attempt to take marketers on a journey into the mind of a content strategist (myself) to give you an inside look at “how the sausage is made”.

The brain of a content strategist is part creative and part analytical. It’s a unique perspective on the world—many people focus on the creative while others are “numbers” or “data” people. And it’s this collaboration of the left and right brainpower that allows me to work on the individual details and tactics of a content campaign while always focusing on the big picture.

First I listen. I take in all of the client’s goals, product features and benefits, audience characteristics, anecdotes about what has worked in the past and what hasn’t, what competitors are doing and reading between the lines to paint the big picture in my mind. This is something I hang on to, refer to often in my mind and constantly test messages, tactics and distribution channels against.

With the big picture in mind, I usually have instincts about tactics and messages, but I still want to build personas to understand what prospects are talking about, worried about and excited about. I really want to know the industry from the inside (and not solely from the client’s perspective).

I combine all of this “data” with my own past experiences and successes to build a content strategy that identifies tactics—content formats and distribution channels that appeal to and would reach the prospective audience where they are in their lives. So far, pretty analytical.

But all of this isn’t happening linearly. Simultaneously, my creative brain is running through messaging ideas and noting possibilities to flush out later. I’m jotting down keywords and building a messaging blueprint to keep all of the content creators on the same page once the campaign launches.

When it’s actually time to create the content I’m back to thinking about the big picture when selecting blog or email topics. I want to make sure I’m writing pieces that provide the reader with value and move them along the buyer journey from awareness to preference to action. I’m also drawing in SEO practices and visual ideas (although I leave the final design to the visual experts). Describing this process is probably an entire blog post unto itself, but it’s like walking a tightrope between being informational and being promotional. That fine line is the sweet spot that spurs the client’s desired action.

This job is not necessarily a 9-5. As many creatives know, you have to act when inspiration hits you—often that’s as I’m falling asleep at night or even in the middle of the night or when I’m supposed to be running out the door (like right now). If I wait, that brilliant point I wanted to make will be gone! I’m always seeking ideas and exploring how others are doing this job in other industries. I save other ads I see in print, digital, or on TV that use techniques I think I could apply to things I’m working on in the future.

Finally, the mind of content strategist is flexible. It’s always evaluating—are we on course for what we are trying to achieve? Are there areas of the message or targeting that should be tweaked? Other tactics we should employ? My mind is able to pivot to different directions based on feedback from the audience.

I hope this journey through my brain helps you understand how a content campaign evolves and was maybe even a bit interesting at the same time! Learn more about glee’s services.

Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash

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