Content Strategy Bear

Have you heard the tale of the content strategy bear? I first heard of him from Kristina Halvorson, and this is the story she told.


This is the Content Strategy Bear. When he gets hungry, he decides to eat some fish. That is his goal, to eat fish. Then he comes up with a strategy: he will go down to the river, where the fish live, and stand in the water. As a tactic, he decides to open his mouth so the fish will swim into it.

If the Content Strategy Bear had no strategy, he would just be a bear with his mouth open, sitting in a field. Tactics and goals require strategies to connect them.The Content Strategy Bear in a field, bemoaning the lack of fish

Content Strategy Bear Has Strategies and Tactics

What I love about the Content Strategy Bear is how clearly he differentiates strategies and tactics. When the bear goes to the river, he has several tactics he could use: grabbing fish with his hands, opening his mouth, looking for fish washed up on the side of the banks. But none of these tactics work without the strategy moving him to the right place to use them.

Many people confuse strategy with tactics. Take this recent list of 10 Creative Content Strategies for Designers. The list includes:

  1. Aggregation and Content curation
  2. Research
  3. Create a content inventory
    … and 7 more.

These are not strategies! They are tactics that may or may not be suitable, depending on the company’s goal and the strategy they use to accomplish that goal. If your team’s goal is to increase customer retention, and the strategy for doing so was to create highly personalized content, then research would be a useful tactic. But a content inventory would leave you sitting in a field with your mouth open.

The lesson? Get down to the river, and be like Content Strategy Bear.

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