We content marketers are a busy bunch, and it’s all too easy to get stuck spinning around in this cyclone of “what.” What is the what? The tactics and strategies we use to drive results and meet our company’s objectives.
But, a more important question is this: What is your why? If we’re too preoccupied with all of the “what,” we won’t take the time to even ask that question, let alone answer it.
We recently covered the difference between a company mission and a company vision statement. The two are often used interchangeably, but they are unique statements that are vital to a company’s success.
The mission statement drives the company… It’s what you do. The vision statement gives the company direction… It’s what you want to become.
Now that you know the difference, it’s time to go deeper into something that also falls victim to confusion: content vision.
You might be thinking: We have that! Done.
Well, my spirited marketer, do you have your content vision OR your content strategy?
Most us have our content strategy nailed down already (although, of course, we can be better about documenting it; only 37 percent of us do so, according to Content Marketing Institute). There is no shortage of helpful content available about how to create a content strategy and plenty of compelling studies and stats about why we need one.
But when was the last time you saw anything about content vision? How do we do that and why should we?
What is content vision exactly?
Your content strategy supports your mission statement, so think of these two working together to provide the structure. It’s your foundation. But the content vision supports the company vision statement to provide the architecture. It’s your aspirations.
The architecture of a building uses design and construction to bring the vision to life. A content vision is similar. It’s something bigger than the foundation the building is sitting on. It depends on that foundation, of course, but it is the vision that is first documented on a blueprint that eventually becomes the top of the building reaching toward the sky.
A content vision is the why to your what — why are you creating content? A content strategy can’t answer that, but a content vision can.
If we look back at the vision statement, it gives the company direction. A content vision is a forward-facing statement of the very soul of your company that propels your content marketing. Ultimately, your company depends on having this kind of innovation so it has a future far beyond goals you have set this year, even five years from now.
Why content vision is so important
Your content vision is a belief statement. It’s about your purpose — yours and nobody else’s. Without a content vision, you risk creating content devoid of meaning. Without meaning, your audience will not connect with your messaging or your brand.
Let’s say you want to start incorporating video marketing into your content efforts. Great.
- If you ask: Who is our audience? That’s foundational and related to your content strategy.
- If you ask: What are we inspiring to change? That’s aspirational and related to your content vision.
A content vision is important, because it will:
- Give more substance to make content strategy whole.
- Align teams so they are working toward the same purpose.
- Provide clarity to allow teams to accomplish more with efficiency.
- Motivate with a vision that promotes fresh ideas and concepts.
- Move the company onward and upward.
Giving our what more impact with the why
At the 2016 Content Marketing World comedian Michael Jr. brilliantly broke down the concept of content vision. Michael Jr said: “If you understand your why, you have a lot of options for what. But your why never changes.”
He used himself as an example…
- Why: To comedically inspire people to walk in purpose
- What: Stand-up comedy, write books, more touring, more television
You can quickly see that the “why” is the vision and the “what” are the tactics.
In order for Michael Jr. to comedically inspire, there are a lot of things he has to do to make that happen. He has to put himself out there constantly to drive his personal brand awareness, but he stays true to why he is spending his energy on those efforts.
The same goes for us as marketers. We only have so much time, right? We all know how critical it is to work efficiently and make an impact.
How to create a content vision
Creating a content vision is just like any other important strategy at your company. The team needs to be involved, and careful steps need to be taken together to come up with a vision that truly represents your organization.
Remember, this is the why instead of the what. Use that throughout the content vision creation process to ground your team if anyone strays from that mentality.
The first thing to do: Understand your company vision statement (if you don’t have one, now is the time to create it).
Then, use these five components to make a fantastic content vision:
- Make it descriptive – It should be visual to help your team see it clearly.
- Make it meaningful – It should be a part of your organization’s roots.
- Make it moving – It should strike an emotional cord that inspires your team.
- Make it stick – It should be simple and easy to remember.
- Make it lead – It should serve as the guiding light of your organization.
“It’s not what the vision is, it’s what the vision does.” – Peter Senge
If we understand our own why, then we’ll immediately know if the what connects with it. If it doesn’t connect, then it’s likely not the right move because it doesn’t align with the overall content vision.
And, if we don’t know what our why is…well, that’s really step one. We have to figure that out to move forward. We must know what our content vision is, otherwise we can’t see where we’re going.
This article was originally published in September 2017. It has been refreshed for 2018.