If you're considering a career in marketing, you've likely found that there are many different paths you can take within the field. The diversity of roles in marketing is one of the reasons the field is so popular; there are opportunities for people with all kinds of different interests and skillsets to be successful.
One of the fastest-growing marketing career paths is in content strategy. Content marketing has emerged as one of the most effective marketing strategies in recent years, and many organizations are now looking to hire content strategists to oversee these efforts.
What is Content Strategy?
At its core, content strategy is a way of using various types of content (written, visual, or auditory) to engage an organization's audience or customers, and to further organizational and business goals. While content strategy does involve the actual creation and delivery of content, there's also a significant focus on the strategy behind the kind of content being created, the audience that it targets, the methods used to share it, and the key goals it's designed to achieve.
Put more simply, content strategy is a way to match the right piece (or pieces) of content with the right target audience to educate, engage, and ultimately convert that person into a lead, a brand advocate, or a user.
What is a Content Marketing Strategist?
A content marketing strategist is responsible for both the decision-making behind content creation, and the execution and promotion of the content itself.
As a content marketing strategist, it's critical that you understand your audience - typically, you'll work to develop a persona (or multiple personas) that represent your target customer or user. You'll then brainstorm the types of content that might resonate with that audience. Content can take many different forms - some of the most common include blog posts, ebooks, webinars, white papers, podcasts, videos, emails, social media posts, infographics, quizzes, checklists, demos, and more. It's your job to figure out the best ways to get that content in front of your target audience, and how to further engage them once they've seen it (a process also known as mapping a user journey).
Typically, as the content strategist, you'll also be responsible for creating much of this content (often in partnership with other team members or external partners, depending on your skillset and the type of content). This means that you'll need to have strong writing skills, an eye for visuals, and an ability to think big-picture as well as focusing on details. Content marketers are creative, can be effective editors of both their own work and others', and good project managers, juggling many different pieces of various campaigns at once. You may also be responsible for coordinating content submissions from subject matter experts, assigning projects to others, and working closely with specialists in graphic design, video, email marketing, and paid media to get things done.
Content strategists should also have a foundation in key marketing skills, such as search engine optimization, social media, and email marketing.
Is Content Strategy Right For You?
Content strategy is a great marketing career choice if:
- You are a strong writer
- You like thinking about customer motivations and challenges
- You're a problem-solver
- You're a strategic thinker, able to both create big-picture plans and fill in the steps to get to the end goal
- You're a good researcher
- You're comfortable working both independently and as part of a team
- You can express your ideas clearly and concisely to others
- You can adopt various voices and tones in your writing to address different audiences
How to Become a Content Marketing Strategist
To become a content marketing strategist, you will need to have a bachelor's degree and a solid foundation in marketing. A bachelor's degree in marketing and communication, for example, will help you build key marketing skills and, depending on your area of focus, will teach you how to develop a content marketing strategy. However, many people come to the marketing field with degrees in other areas; the most important thing is that your degree program gives you the chance to develop your expertise in writing, critical thinking, problem-solving, and other important soft skills.
Many people can obtain their first marketing role with this core skillset; if you can communicate well and demonstrate creativity, that will be enough to help you obtain an entry-level role in the industry. You will typically need to build on-the-job experience through several years in marketing generalist roles (such as marketing coordinator or marketing assistant) learning the foundations of content creation, marketing strategy, and campaign management before you're qualified to move into a specialized role like a content strategist.
Although it may take a few years to get there, starting out your marketing career with the goal of securing a content strategist position is a great way to motivate yourself, keep yourself focused on the key skills you'll need to build to prepare yourself for such a role, and give you something to work towards.