April 13, 2015

Why Strategic Thinking Is Crucial in Content Marketing, Part II

In the first installment of this piece we discussed what role strategic thinking plays in a comprehensive content marketing strategy and why it is such a difficult skill for organizations to find in employees. Finding critical thinkers has proven extremely difficult for recruiters and businesses, so the logical question that follows is, “Can I teach my existing employees and future hires who are not naturally inclined toward a critical, global perspective to become strategic thinkers?” 

The answer, as it turns out, is not perfectly clear-cut. Some experts are adamant that strategic thinking is a skill, like many others, that can be conveyed from a competent teacher to a willing student. Others argue that people are either born strategic thinkers or aren’t and that no amount of training or exercises can change that.

Even if completing converting a non-strategic employee to a critical thinker is not possible, helping those individuals think more strategically is an attainable goal. One way to think about this concept is to look at it like another skill, like swimming for example. Some people feel at home in the water and need little or no instruction to learn to swim. Others may not feel as comfortable, but assuming they are physically able, can be taught the skills they need to be safe in a pool or lake. 

The same is true for strategic thinking, particularly as it applies to content marketing and overall business development. Some members of your team may be more naturally inclined to more micro thinking—that is, completing the task in front of them as well as they possibly can without thinking about how it fits into a larger picture. These employees may be extremely valuable members of your team already or may be struggling with their basic duties—either way, some training in the more strategic aspects of their jobs will make them more valuable contributors.

Here are some thought exercises and tips that can help foster more strategic thinking in your marketing department:

  • Think about where you want your product launch, new service or overall brand message to be in one, three and six months and then create a roadmap for how to get there. Yes, things will change along the way and you will have to adjust (another crucial piece of strategic thinking) but a long-term view forces you to think about whether or not the content you are creating is actually moving you toward those goals.

  • Ask at least two people inside your company (but outside your division) and two people outside your organization to provide feedback on your upcoming content plans. Getting unique perspectives from a subject matter expert or consumer who doesn’t know much about your company expands your knowledge of the entire scope of your company’s business challenges and goals; it may also open a broader range of possibilities for content creation.
  • Seek out themes across the entire business world, not just in your industry. Oftentimes, events or trends can be important to your vertical even if you are not directly affected. For example, if you work for an Internet Service Provider, the return of HBO’s hit “Game of Thrones” this past weekend might not seem related to your industry. But, if you were aware of the dialogue and hype surrounding the premium network’s new streaming service, HBONow, you might be able to join that discussion.

If you are looking for some help creating a more strategic approach to content marketing, download our white paper entitled, “The Virtues of Choosing a Content Strategy Vendor.”


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