Content strategy canvas
Welcome to your content strategy canvas.
To use get started, download the canvas in your chosen format. There’s a PDF version that you can print off and use on paper, or a document version for Words, Google Docs, etc.
Then use the notes on this page to help you complete the canvas. They’re also available to download in document format.
If you have any questions about the canvas or any feedback, you can email me at email@example.com.
*Compatible with Microsoft Word, Google Docs, etc
Notes to help you complete the content strategy canvas
These notes will help you to complete your content strategy canvas template. If you’re not clear on what a content strategy is, I’d suggest you read my guide Content strategy: the basics before you start.
Part 1: Discover
The Discover phase is where you gather data and come up with the insights you need to craft your strategy. The following activities can help:
- Organisational strategy refresher
- User research
- Stakeholder research
- Review existing customer/user feedback
- Content audit
- Gap analysis
- Competitor audits
Once you’ve done your discovery, you need to document your key insights. The canvas has three sections:
1. Departure point
Your goals and the big challenges and opportunities you’re going to address
What do you want to achieve? How will you know when you’ve been successful?
What are the big problems that you, your stakeholders, and your organisation are facing? (Make sure these are things where content can have an impact.)
Where are the big, exciting gaps for content? What aren’t you doing that could have a big impact?
2. Key users and needs
Your target audience, their needs, questions, problems, how they think, feel, and act. Just list the most important ones here.
- Be specific about your target audience - you can’t be everything to everyone.
- Interrogate the real benefits for users - ask why repeatedly until you get to the bottom of it
The big picture. A bold and memorable vision for successful future content. Use this template:
- Our content helps [audience]
- do [user benefit]
- and as a result, [goal]
- by [differentiator]
- Think about what your organisation offers that’s unique — again, ask why repeatedly
- Think long-ish term — your destination should be something you think you could achieve in 2-5 years
- Don’t skip to the solution yet — keep your options open
The Plan phase is where you take your insights from the Discover phase and come up with a hypothesis about what your strategy should be. You’ll create a strategic compass to guide you, and a set of waypoints you want to reach. The following activities will help you:
- Solo thinking time: spend time studying your Discover insights and thinking really hard about what you need to do to get to your destination
- Working sessions and conversations: have collaborative working sessions and/or conversations with your team and stakeholders. Show them your insights and destination, and ask for their ideas on what you should be doing.
Throughout those activities, you’re looking to create your strategic compass, which you document on the canvas as follows:
1. North Star
Your North Star is your ‘why’, the big reason your content exists. It’s where what your organisation wants/does intersects with what your customers want/need. It’s like the sweet spot on a tennis racket — where you get the best return for the lowest effort.
2. Compass points
2.1 Guiding policies
The big ideas or pillars at the heart of your content strategy – the key things you need to do to make better content.
The ideals and ways of working you want to uphold – the things that will make your content high-quality and authentic.
The things you want to achieve on the way to your destination. They’re little goals that show you’re on the right path, the things that you need to do to unlock progress and move on the next stage.
- Don’t get too granular just yet — these should be significant markers of success
- Think about stepping stones/things that unlock new levels and will help get you to your ultimate destination
The final part of the canvas is the Move phase. This is where you make a cohesive, detailed plan for how you’ll make your vision a reality and execute your guiding policy. This is about aligning plans and aligning actions, and breaking down the challenge into smaller milestones. Again, your activities might include some solo thinking time and collaborative working sessions.
Some of the key things you want to document in the canvas are:
1.1 Key messages
The most important things you want your users to know about your organisation, products, services, impact, etc.
The topics that your user cares about, where you have authority and credibility.
1.3 Content types and purpose
The different types of content you produce, like interviews, articles, guides, opinions, product descriptions, campaigns, etc. Where you publish them: what section of your website, what platform or channel. The purpose or intention behind them. For example, to educate, persuade, inform.
A step-by-step breakdown of who does what, where, and when to produce and maintain your content.
- Think end-to-end: how will you come up with ideas for content, how will you prioritise ideas, when will you review and iterate content, when will you delete it?
- Assign activities to specific people: if it doesn’t have a name associated with it, it probably won’t happen
- Think about tools/ platforms/forums: will this step happen in a meeting, in a project management tool, in a document?
How you’ll gather and analyse data and feed the insights back into your strategy and plan.
- Think about the sources of data and insight you have available to you
- Be specific about when and how you’ll analyse the data
- Consider the difference between:
- Inflight data: what content do you need to measure as you go along and iterate in real time?
- Regular reporting: what data points will you look at regularly to check that your content is working AND get insights you can use to improve it?
- Testing: what tests and experiments can you do?
I hope you’ve found this toolkit useful, and I’d love to hear your feedback. Share your feedback, ask questions, or tell me about your experience using this form.