Three ways to use the Strategic Content Strategy Canvas

  • By Kathy Wagner
  • |
  • Feb 1 2019
Categories: |Toolbox

Is it a facilitation tool, a working framework, or a snapshot deliverable? Yes!

View the Strategic Content Strategy Canvas now.

The Strategic Content Strategy Canvas is designed to make sure you have the necessary components in your content strategy. You can use it to facilitate discussions or a workshop with stakeholders, to guide how you approach and present your work, or as a way to provide a snapshot summary of the overall strategy. Using it for all three brings a cohesiveness to your work and helps stakeholders to see a progression of thinking.

Before using the Strategic Content Strategy Canvas, you may want to read an overview about how to put more strategy into your content strategy or get more detailed information about how to complete the content strategy canvas.

Using the canvas as a facilitation tool

Using the content strategy canvas to frame a discussion or workshop is a good way to gather stakeholder insights and facilitate alignment. Print the canvas on paper that’s at least poster size or project it onto a wall. Encourage people to write ideas on sticky notes that can be moved around, and only write the final, agreed upon insights on the canvas itself.

Because a content strategy is built over time (completing the findings and foundation before moving to the the guiding focus, and completing the guiding focus before moving to the action plan), you may want to plan a series of discussions or workshops. You can use the canvas to guide your questions and find out what your stakeholders know for sure, based on solid research and evidence, rather than what they think they know. That will help you to identify research gaps you may need to fill in before crafting the guiding focus.

You could do the same exercise with different stakeholder groups to see where there are differing viewpoints that need to be aligned before moving forward. When developing the guiding focus or action plan, you can use the canvas as a framework for brainstorming ideas and thoughts about each of the different areas. More diverse viewpoints often results in a more useful end result.

When using the content strategy canvas as a discussion tool, the most important thing to remember is that it is simply a framework. The information you put on the canvas will reflect the perspectives of only the people you have in the room, and will be incomplete at that stage (unless you have a very large room with business stakeholders and content teams and audience members). You’ll need to fold in research-based insights from each of the canvas areas before you can be confident moving forward.

Using the canvas to guide your work

Referring to the canvas as you work through your content strategy is a simple way to make sure that you’re not skipping over anything critical. It reminds you to look deeply at specific elements within the business, audience, and content areas that may impact the strategy. It also reminds you to include a strategy statement, guiding principles, and a strong rationale for your decisions. Finally, it encourages you to develop an action plan that’s realistic and achievable.

As content strategists, we often find ourselves delivering large reports or a series of deliverables, each with their own specific goals and focus but that don’t easily communicate their cohesiveness. Structuring your work and deliverables around the framework provided in the content strategy canvas can make it easier for project stakeholders to see the connections and outcomes of your work more clearly, particularly if this framework is used as a discussion tool during the discovery phase, as a framework for your detailed deliverables, and as a snapshot summary on completion.

Using the canvas as a strategy snapshot summary

When your content strategy is complete, summarizing the key elements within the framework of the content strategy canvas is an effective way to communicate the overall high-level strategy at a glance. While you may want to recreate the canvas in a format that’s easy for you to work with, it should still provide enough of a space constraint to encourage you to focus only on the highest-priority items or information. The canvas isn’t designed to communicate all the details needed for a full content strategy—it only provides a snapshot of the most compelling points. You will still need your reports and presentations and excel sheets to provide the detail, and you can link to them from the “References and resources” section of the canvas.

Do you have any other ideas about how content teams can use the Strategic Content Strategy Canvas? Did you use it within your workplace, and how did that work for you? We’d really love to hear your ideas and experiences with the canvas, so please let us know.

Download the Strategic Content Strategy Canvas, and see our instructional article on how to complete the content strategy canvas.

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