Most people who have high cholesterol have no symptoms other than their LDL number that gives only their doctor grief. The impact of elevated ‘bad cholesterol’ levels is being hotly debated, but for those with a risk for heart disease, most agree that lowering that number via meds is advisable.

But many of the ideal candidates for meds start them but don’t keep taking them. Why is that? Simply, because people don’t feel any differently when they take them. There is no feel-good symptom, no energy boost, nada, from lowering that number via meds.

And that same problem is what keeps organizations producing content without any guiding content strategy. For now, it doesn’t feel bad to do what they’re doing. It’s pain-free. There is no obvious symptom that is shouting ‘we need a content strategy.’

But when it comes to the elite field of top-producing content marketers, associations stand alone as the ones that do not yet have a content strategy. Let’s look at the top reasons for stopping the cholesterol meds as these seem to also explain the content strategy conundrum too.

I don’t feel any different/better when I take the medication so why should I continue?

Associations have been producing content for a long time, they are rather masterful with storytelling and content creation, but they haven’t yet faced the pain of the forprofit content creators wedging in between them and their audience of members and prospective members. How associations are producing and delivering content ‘appears’ to be working. But, the highly targeted audience of associations is a marketer’s dream and wielding content (in an accountable content marketing process guided by a content strategy) well-positions businesses to compete and insert themselves as a go-to source for association members. One of the strong attractions for your members beyond the high quality and well-targeted content is that these firms offer is that the bulk of their content is free — they know how to leverage the content to attract advertisers and sponsors to do the paying. Plus, they are using their content to build a prospect pool for their other products or services. What is it going to take to waken associations to this reality? I think if you look to global corporations who excel at their own content marketing, you will see fine examples of what to emulate. And you’ll also see that not a one is producing content in the absence of a content strategy.

I don’t like taking medications.

It’s about changing and change is hard. But what around you hasn’t changed? There haven’t been so many profound changes in so short a time in history. And the demand for change didn’t stop at the association threshold. Ask yourself, how much of how you are producing content looks like how you did it ten years ago? Back when most people had never heard of the upstart Google. Back when there weren’t a gazillion social channels, back when your members had few choices to get reliable information for their niche? Yeah, change is hard, there is no denying that. What’s harder though is feeling the brunt due to a lack of change when you had the opportunity to do so.

I can’t afford the medication.

Developing a content strategy isn’t cost-free but it is no more expensive than a competitor analysis, publication redesign or a brand development. A content strategy informs so many aspects of your content development and delivery, but the valuable part is the deep understanding of your members as buyers of your services or products. You can’t afford not to understand their motivations in choosing you or not choosing you.

I can’t remember to take it every day.

It’s going to be real easy to read this article, think hmmmm, and forget all about it. Change is hard. Fighting for resources for something new for your org is hard. Collaborating across departments is hard. Taking no action or not innovating is really easy and no one will notice. Except you.

I’d prefer natural herb remedies or vitamins.

Evolve or die is pretty natural. And while that may sound alarmist, we see the difference between what our various types of clients are accomplishing with their content. Many associations still work in a system that lacks accountability, where the worth of content programs can’t be tied to supporting top-level business goals. Some of our other clients, nonprofits or corporations, set goals, have a robust understanding of their buyer’s motivations, and measure and track their content assets’ performance. That kind of accountability leads to a reduced need for your precious resources along with an increase in ROI.

Do you think that if your association’s content creators left and went to work at a content marketing firm that they would return to you and be proponents to continue with your organization’s content production-delivery-tracking practices as is? If yes, then kudos, brava, applause, this article is not for you — it’s for the association that is wondering what this content strategy business is all about and what does it mean for them.

And what does it mean for you? What does content strategy mean for you as an association? Does the following feel like something you can continue with, even if you don’t feel the pain without it, can you remember to stick with it, fight for the funds to make it happen, and accept this as a natural progression:
I know that our content is top-notch and we want to fully leverage it to expand our following of members, prospective members and evangelists as our organization continues to innovate its way to its place in the future.