The first day of Intelligent Content Conference 2014 featured a panel discussion including Kristina Halvorson of Brain Traffic, Buddy Scalera of Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide, Cleve Gibbon of Cognifide, and Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute. The mother of Content Strategy, Ann Rockley of the Rockley Group, moderated the panel discussion.

From an audience members’s perspective, here are a few topics that they touched upon throughout the discussion.

What’s Content Strategy in 2014?

The group discussed what the definition of Content Strategy is during this recent age of every brand and its mother pumping digital content all over the place.

According to Halvorson, Content Strategy informs the substance and structure of content, as well as workflow, tools, and governance.

Gibbon and Halvorson agreed that Content Strategy isn’t project-based. It’s process-based. It requires courage and consistency to make cultural and workflow changes. We need to get over making people mad for the greater good of improving the organization.

Scalera added that while Content Marketing is for marketing. Content Strategy is for “everything else,” meaning its planning, intelligence, and governance.

The panel agreed that while content strategies have immense value, there’s still resistance because of the misperception that it threatens the overall business strategy. The truth is far from that speculation.

To Scalera, a content strategy is a means for brands want to get the message out there. What marketers wants to say might not be exactly what customers want to hear because marketers tend to just talk at brands. The application of a content strategy embodies the “make content useful and usable” rallying cry.

To Gibbon, the integration of a content strategy is about teaching the business why content matters, where it needs to flow, and where it needs to go, and how to improve it over time.

Citing her experiences, Halvorson challenged the notion of an “Enterprise” content strategy, with fellow panelists commenting that the real propagation and support of content strategy is much more organic.

Addressing The Problem with Tech-First

The panel took a moment to address the technology before strategy challenge that seems to be popping up all over industries in organizations of all sizes. Pulizzi mentioned the challenges of organizations wanting to retrofit content strategies to meet rigid technology choices.

Gibbon explained that people choose the technology first because it’s comfortable. However, he encouraged the need to figure out how to push for overall processes change instead. Technology can be built. But, strategy doesn’t just fall into place. The difficulties appear when there’s no strategy in place.

Setting Expectations about Content Strategy

The panel touched upon how the expectations for content changes as marketing requirements surge into the spotlight as of late. This attention to marketing shifts expectations of what content strategy means to organizations.

Halvorson emphasized that content strategy means setting limits. It’s not just saying “no,” it’s about setting constraints around how we do content. Content strategy should identify what we can do, what we shouldn’t, all for the greater mission—to better serve our customers and support our organizations.

Not only should expectations be set at the content level, but also up top with management. The reason for governance isn’t just to control content. It assists with avoiding the creation of toxic, unsustainable working environments for content and marketing professionals, according to Halvorson.

Staying Focused

The two marketers of the panel, Scalera and Pulizzi, discussed the need for marketers to stay focused as they continue to generate content. What assists this focus is generally a great content strategy.

Scalera suggested that marketers filter content through the user journey, regardless of industry. He encouraged people to stop talking at your customers. Instead, he recommended that we give them the information that they need to know.

Scalera also emphasized that there’s always a user meeting your content somewhere along your sales funnel. To avoid diverging off the path, or out of that funnel, the mission requires content strategy to meet the goal.

Pulizzi added to this discussion, mentioning that ,arketers don’t look at marketing as an asset. To him, marketing hadn’t been an asset until recently.

Now that it’s an asset, it qualifies for constant evaluation, modification, and governance.

Moving Forward

This panel discussion set the theme for the conference, where many attendees, both speakers and audience, continue the discussion from our panelists throughout the rest of the day.