The stats are clear – content marketing without strategy has been proven to fail. The Content Marketing Institute’s research has shown time and again that organizations that don’t have a documented content marketing strategy are less likely to succeed than those who do.

Clearly, you must have a plan before you dive in to blogging, or creating videos, or whatever. You need to understand what your audience wants, you need to know your goals, and you need to know who’s going to do the work.

And then the work needs to get done.

You need to execute.

If all you do is plan and plan and plan, and hold meetings, and create spreadsheets, and design workflows, and talk about what needs to be done, you will lose. You will fail. I’ve come across way too many people who couldn’t or wouldn’t do the work, and so decided they were “strategists.” They like to act smart, pensively pulling on their chin while they consider options. They move slowly, if at all. Sometimes, they act like they’re afraid to move forward, afraid to make a mistake.

It’s shocking how much effort goes into building the strategy. Companies obsess over which technology platforms and tools they should use. They conduct focus groups and strategy sessions to try to define the audience. They look at distribution strategies, and secure budgets for social media and PPC campaigns.

And then no one creates any content!

I once heard a marketer from a Fortune 100 company present his work on building buyer persona profiles for his company. He discussed the dozens and dozens of interviews that were conducted, the beautiful PowerPoint deck he built detailing audience preferences. He spent six months building buyer personas; it was his full time job. That’s 1,000 hours! I would never argue that you don’t need to understand who your audience is but, certainly, there’s a point of diminishing returns. At some point, your expertise and instincts need to kick in and you need to realize that you have enough information to move forward.

P.S. – that guy who spent six months building buyer personas was fired.

If you’re going to succeed at content marketing (or anything, really) you need to have a bias for action. Stuff need to get done. If it doesn’t… well then, nothing ever gets done. Of course, creating a steady stream of high quality content is hard, but that’s why they pay you. It’s your job to roll up your sleeves and make sure the content gets developed.

This doesn’t mean strategy isn’t important. But it does mean that your plan is no good if no one executes it. And if you’re the strategist but don’t push for execution, ultimately someone is going to call you on it.

And that could be ugly.