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Your Content Calendar is not Your Content Strategy
Fashion and luxury brands need a plan for all their content—not just their marketing content.
Fashion and luxury brands need both content strategy and content marketing to plan, manage, and distribute content at scale in today’s always-on, omnichannel content marketplace.
Content strategy and content marketing are relational but divergent ideas that can be conceptualized as two parts of the same framework.
Even brands with a well-established content marketing strategy benefit from taking a step back to invest in an overarching, holistic content strategy to drive brand storytelling, build content infrastructure, and oversee content investments across channels.
Six years ago, the team behind FSW sat in front of the head of marketing for a major luxury brand and inquired about their current content strategy.
After a brief description of how their team was leveraging influencers to differentiate their brand messaging (a tactic that was relatively new at the time), the head of marketing looked straight at us and said, “Oh, and here’s our content strategy.” She handed us a hard copy version of her social media editorial calendar. We were slightly dumbfounded.
There is a common misconception within brand marketing teams that content marketing and content strategy are one and the same. Or, worse, many content marketing blogs reiterate the idea that content strategy is a subset of content marketing as if it’s a fact.
As most content strategists will agree, the statement that “content strategy is an important element of your content marketing” is actually up for significant debate.
For fashion and luxury brands, understanding the nuances between content strategy and content marketing matters greatly, even if most brands don’t realize it. Focusing on one without the other can bring about major challenges, both in terms of siloing teams, processes, and approaches to content planning, management, and distribution across IRL and digital channels over time but also in empowering brand and campaign messaging across channels, building a consistent look and feel for content, and connecting products with the right audiences.
Fashion Content Strategy vs Content Marketing Strategy
At FSW, we have examined at length the vital need for holistic content strategy within fashion and luxury brands to guide content decision-making and brand storytelling, ensuring that corporate goals align with user needs and preferences.
While there are many definitions of content strategy, our favorite is as follows:
Content strategy relates to the planning, creation, management, and distribution of content across touchpoints. For a fashion or luxury brand, a content touchpoint constitutes anywhere consumers encounter its brand messaging, both IRL and digital.
Content strategy can be high-level as in a brand’s overarching plan for content across touchpoints, but also it can be specific as in how it markets and communicates content to target audiences across channels. The latter is most usefully called a content marketing strategy.
The clearest elucidation we’ve seen of the difference between content strategy and content marketing is that “content marketing is content strategy for marketing.” One is neither a subset of the other; they’re different, though relational.
Both content strategy and content marketing are strategic, data-driven, and focused on targeting the right content to the right audiences. However, content marketing is by its nature external facing, whereas content strategy is foundational and internal as well as external.
One way to think about content strategy and content marketing is as two parts of the same framework, as illustrated in this Venn diagram. Both are a key part of long-term brand planning for content, need to be aligned to business goals, and require internal stakeholder engagement for successful implementation.
Content strategy is focused on setting overarching brand vision, goals, workflows, editorial guidelines, and policies to shape internal and external content planning, creation, and management over time. It is research-based and deeply aligned with UX, design, and IT processes and principles. Think about content strategy as a high-level framework to guide the intentional creation and maintenance of internal and external content over time. As FSW recently explored, the luxury cycling brand Rapha is a great case study in content strategy through its impressive storytelling-driven approach.
By corollary, content marketing should ideally be the step after content strategy. It is the application of a brand’s content strategy to its marketing efforts, involving the strategic execution of content across channels. Content marketing is aligned to product and UX priorities, and designed to achieve measurable results and influence and build user engagement and behavior. Think about content marketing strategy as a specific framework for marketing content to communicate brand messaging and build customer engagement, such as Louis Vuitton’s splash marketing campaign for its collaboration with avant-garde artist Yayoi Kusama or Mattel’s strategy to use fashion collaborations as a way to create Barbie-mania ahead of the launch of Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” movie.
In general, content marketers approach content through the lens of campaign KPIs and strategic objectives and through customer behavioral data, including clicks and views, purchase history, and wider demographic trends and analyses. On the other hand, content strategists focus on content vision and goals, content models, structures, and types, content policies and rules, editorial standards and workflows, and content management and governance.
Why Both Content Strategy and Content Marketing Are Key
In application, fashion and luxury brands benefit from having both content strategy and content marketing to better target their products and services to specific audiences as well as to manage their messaging footprint across channels.
While a content strategist’s toolkit and that of a content marketer are respectively different, they are, for the most part, organization agnostic. But the creation and implementation of content strategy and content marketing are–and should be–tailored to a brand’s unique vision, goals, staff, products, and audiences.
For brands with existing content marketing strategies in place, content strategy should still be a priority. Indeed, in most fashion and luxury brands, content marketing programs usually are quite separate from other brand content efforts and teams and suffer from gaps in content planning, process, or even consistency of look and feel across platforms. Content marketing managers usually sit within marketing teams, whereas website content managers, social media managers, and retail store managers sit in vastly different parts of the organization.
Making an investment in content strategy is an investment in brand building. But they’re worth the effort. Being strategic, rather than tactical, with content takes time, planning, and internal buy-in to be successful. For fashion and luxury brands, content strategy and content marketing require a differentiated approach, one tailored to each brand’s unique story, products, and goals. A content governance plan, for instance, can add value to an enterprise-sized luxury brand but is not necessarily needed for a smaller brand with a tighter content team structure, though the foundational principles of governance always apply.
Content strategy and content marketing in tandem allow fashion and luxury brands to take a more deliberate approach to how their teams develop, manage, and deliver content at scale across channels. Both tools together also can greatly reduce costs caused by excessive siloing of content projects between teams, encourage collaboration, and introduce more consistent practices and policies to guide content creation and future-proof it over time.
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