What’s the difference between a content strategy and a content plan (and why it matters)

December 2, 2022

Get clear on your ‘why’ – before you start planning content for your business

Janet Murray Courageous Content Podcast Headshot

What’s the difference between a content strategy and content plan (and why does it matter)?

That’s exactly what you’ll find out in this episode of the Courageous Content Podcast.

If you’ve been struggling to stick to a content plan, this episode may explain why (and what to do about it)….

I got a message from a client who was considering joining one of my business & content strategy retreats. In it, they said they were glad I was covering ‘business strategy’ and not just helping people plan social media content.

Which made me want to cry.

Not because they’d said something ‘wrong’ (quite the opposite in fact).

But because it made me think I’d done something wrong.

So first off, why did this comment make me want to cry?

Because I’m a content strategist.

Which means I help people get clear on their goals – and help them design a content strategy that supports those goals. Content planning does sometimes come into it – but much further down the line – when we’re clear on the overall content strategy.

Sometimes I’m creating a content strategy to support a client’s overall business goals. Other times it’s about creating a strategy for a specific content project e.g. a new podcast, email lead magnet, event and/or sales funnel.

But you can’t look at a project like this in isolation i.e. without seeing where, how – or even ‘if’ – it fits into their bigger business (and life) goals. So we have to look at their business strategy too.

Content Strategy vs Business Strategy (and why you can't have one without the other)

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why people associate me with content planning. My guess is because I sell a content planner: the 2023 Courageous Content Planner & Content Kit.

And since I started publishing it, back in 2017, a lot of people have popped up with content planners and content planning resources.

But my planner has never been about content planning.

And here’s why:

  • You can’t create a content plan without a content strategy, and
  • You can’t create a content strategy without a business strategy

And there’s nothing like creating a content strategy to expose the ‘leaky’ bits of your business strategy (or highlight the fact you haven’t really got one!).

I know this – always have done.

But my client’s comment made me think perhaps I haven’t always done the best job of explaining it to my audience.

And that many content specialists use the phrase ‘content planning’ when they’re really talking about strategy (guilty as charged, by the way).

What's the difference between a content strategy and a content plan?

If you find it hard to get your head around the difference between a content strategy and a content plan, this analogy may help.

Designing a CONTENT STRATEGY is about the destination i.e. where do you want to go & why? And exploring the best routes & modes of transport (i.e. content platforms/tactics) – to get there.

Your CONTENT PLAN is the ‘map’ you create to get there. And you can’t create a ‘map’ if you don’t know where you’re going right?

So if you struggle to stick to a content plan – this may be why i.e. you’re trying to plan content when you don’t really know where you’re going.

And creating your content plan starts by looking at your overall business goals – and your income goals. Because if you don’t know how much income you need to generate – and from which products/services – of course you’ll have no idea what to publish when/where. Or end up publishing content that doesn’t get the outcome you need.

The easiest way to generate more income in your business is to do more of what works. And focus your content on increasing engagement/sales there. But how can you do more of what’s working…if you don’t actually know what’s working.

When you have a content strategy, you know where you place your focus. For example, a client who came to my recent annual content strategy masterclass noticed that most of her income was coming from a surprising place – her book.

That’s a really important piece of data – because it’s guiding here on where to place her focus with her content.

It also prevents you from making mistakes with your content – like not giving yourself enough time to build an audience to sell a particular product/service.

For example, let’s say you’re planning to publish a book in August 2023 and you want to sell 500 copies – but you only have 200 relevant people on your email list right now (or maybe you don’t have an email list at all).

The average conversion rate for online sales is just 1-2% – so this should give you an idea of how many copies you might expect to sell. But if you spend some time this side of Christmas creating a content strategy you can create a content strategy that focuses on audience growth.

So now you’re clear on the difference between a content strategy and content plan, I hope you’ll put aside some time this side of Christmas to create your content strategy.

If you’d like some help with this I’ve created a Content Strategy Template you can download (and YES it is meant to open in messenger).

If you’ve already invested in my 2023 Courageous Content Planner & Kit, I’ve sent this out to planner owners and added it to the members’ area. My advice would be to do this first, the go through the audio training in the Courators Kit (it will take you less than an hour) – then creating your content plan will feel easy peasy.

If this blog has helped this ‘click’ for you – and you now understand why you need to go through the process of creating your strategy and then your plan – you can go right ahead and grab your 2023 Courageous Content Planner & Content Kit use the code STRATEGY30 – it will give you 30% off the planner and content kit until December 31, 2022. You’ll get your strategy template with your kit – which means you’ll be ready to go…

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