Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

The Secret to a Successful Content Strategy is Simpler Than You Think

It’s all too easy to stand up in a meeting and tell the room that to tackle the overwhelming task at hand — be it a content plan, website re-write or otherwise — we all need to be ‘aligned’.

But what does ‘alignment’ really mean? And is it that important?

Funnily enough, when I see the word ‘alignment’ used in the context of marketing and content strategy, I don’t think of ‘business’ examples.

The perfect example of how something as simple as ‘alignment’ can help us achieve the impossible is far more primitive than any case study you can find in the Harvard Business Review (yawn).

I think back to ancient Egypt when the pyramids were built.

What the pyramids can teach us about content strategy (yes, really)

The poor souls tasked with building those towers had all the odds against them. But no single worker could do their job without the support of those around them. The sheer size of the stone blocks they dragged, pushed, pulled, and shoved up the sides of the structures would have crushed any worker who attempted to do it on their own. They needed everyone pushing in the same direction, each lined up behind each other to form a collective force that could seemingly do the impossible.

It’s a perfect depiction of how alignment can lead to incredible results.

After all, imagine what would have happened to the pyramids if the workers were all doing as they please? Say those workers stopped pushing in the same direction, maybe a few started started pulling instead of pushing, while others sat to the side, and others still started pushing blocks back down to the ground instead of up to the top.

What happens then?

One thing’s for sure, them Pharaoh’s aren’t getting a fancy gravestone that lasts for thousands of years to come.

The fact is, building the pyramids was such a monstrous and overwhelming task that it required everything, and everyone, to be aligned — both literally and figuratively. And look, I get it, the workers certainly weren’t ‘at will’ as we are today but it doesn’t takeaway from the fact that if they aren’t physically aligned (i.e. facing and pushing in the same direction), nothing’s getting done. They also needed to be aligned in the sense that they were all clear about the end goal and all actively working towards it. If one worker think he’s building a treehouse, he’s going to be surprised when he sees shows up to the base of the pyramid and sees the towering blocks of stone he’s expected to lift for 12 hours a day.

Let me take this moment to acknowledge that I realize the reason these workers were likely ‘aligned’ was because there were more than a few ‘supervisors’ encouraging them to do so with a healthy crack of a whip. So they were more ‘slaves’ than ‘workers’, I get it. But let’s not the truth get in the way of a good metaphor.

How they built the pyramids… I.e. How to build a content strategy that lasts

Thankfully, building content strategies is far less physically taxing than building a pyramid, and, unless you find yourself working for a brand of sex toys, should involve far less whipping. Still, building a strategy from scratch is no easy feat and on any given day it can feel like you’re lugging 5-tonne stone bricks up a steep hill.

Despite the differences though, building a pyramid and building content strategies depend on the same absolute alignment across the board. Content strategy encompasses the process, governance and creation of all content within a business. It’s a huge undertaking. And everyone needs to be aligned and working toward the same goal, otherwise, it ain’t getting done and if it does, it won’t be nearly as good as it could be.

Launching a content strategy requires alignment of teams. Sales, marketing, operations, senior leadership, HR — all stakeholders in the company need to be focused and working toward the same end goal. It also needs absolute alignment within those teams. Every individual contributor, no matter their level, needs to be on the same page. And finally, the content strategy needs to align with the business objectives. After all, content is of no use unless it is helping the business reach its goals.

Like the pyramids, when we build content strategies, our aim is to build them to last. The good thing is, unlike the pyramids, we don’t need our content strategies to last thousands of years, but we do want to build effective plans that drive results now and well into the future.

So when you begin your next content strategy, really think about alignment. How can you ensure your teams are aligned? And how can you ensure the content that you and your organization creates maps to, and aligns with, business objectives.

If you do it right, content strategy can be a work of art. And you can easily leave a legacy and a lasting impression like that of the pyramids.

Heck, if do a good enough job, you might even have people asking the same questions asked about the ancient Egyptians...

Like, “How the f**k did they do it??”

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Product marketer, content strategist, writer of Thought Dumpling

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Allan Stormon

Allan Stormon

Product marketer, content strategist, writer of Thought Dumpling

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