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Content Strategy – A Better Way
Photo by Rita Morais on Unsplash

Our organizations still publish content as we always have: each department with its own charge, individual expertise, and separate content. That content is the organization’s offerings — its products, services, programs, events, resources, information, and tools.

Each department plans its offerings, gets approval, and goes about the business of turning those offerings into reality.

Enter content strategy. Content strategists help organizations realize that what they do IS content, and therefore their content needs to be orchestrated. We say things that help:

  • All content needs to have a primary audience and an explicit, measurable goal connected with the business outcome of the offering.
  • All content needs to be created so it resonates with the audience who needs the offering but does not necessarily know the language of the expert.
  • All content needs to be created in the organization’s voice, so it is not generic but clearly reflects the company’s brand.

 

 

Organizations have created many ways to promote and support their offerings:

  • Support centers that help, compensating for inadequate offering content
  • Media relations departments that promote the offerings to the media
  • Marketing departments that promote the offerings to prospective customers
  • Sales departments that sell the offerings to prospective customers

Each group creates its own content about the offerings and publishes it on the organization’s website. This overproduction of content inherently makes it difficult for customers to find anything on the site.

 

The recent addition of content marketing has compounded the problem. In the last decade, marketers have transformed themselves into internal publishing organizations with their own content. Their original charge was a small one – to promote the organization’s offerings.

Content marketers have taken that goal into a new realm, producing entirely new content streams that require their own lifecycle. Then they market what they produce, instead of marketing the offerings. In my opinion, this creates a huge distraction from the offerings.

The result is content overkill:

  • Separate teams doing their best to achieve separate goals ?
  • Multiple streams of disconnected content ?

And creates new complexity:

  • Which content do people find if they search?
  • Which content is promoted on the site, in email, on social media?
  • Are the various types of core and marketing content written in a common voice?
  • Are all the facts the same in all content?
  • If core content changes, does the marketing content change?
  • If customer service uncovers information needs, how do they address them?

Here’s an example:

Content strategists have not gone far enough. A true strategic approach to content would be that the offering must come before the department.

  • We need to put the offering first and then fit the organization’s internal structure into the offering.
  • We need to have shared goals of creating a growing stream of happy customers
  • We need to measure work differently, not by quantity of content but by quality of results
  • We need to put people on cross-departmental product teams with clear, mutual goals
  • We need to establish maximum content limits for each offering

Here is what a more strategic approach could look like:

 

Download the related slides: https://www.slideshare.net/hilarymarsh/content-strategy-a-better-way

If your organization is interested in getting to this vision, contact us.

This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. Any reason why you’ve excluded Technical Authors/Writers?
    You’ve got Support troubleshooting content, but not online Help, Help in the UI etc, which is written prior to release.

    1. Hi Ellis, I’m so sorry for the oversight! This was not intended to be a comprehensive list, just an idea of the kinds of content created.

  2. In theory, I am on board with creating one page to point campaigns to vs creating campaign landing pages that are separate from product pages.

    In practice, working for several manufacturers, I’ve seen marketers create separate campaign landing pages not because that’s what they think is best, but because the product pages on their websites have limited capabilities in terms of functionality, design, and content types, and just aren’t compelling or engaging at all.

    I’m not sure how to get around that issue.

    1. Hi Allison,
      This is a great point. If the organization conceives of content strategy in a more holistic way, product owners and marketers would be the ones determining requirements for the product pages — and then those pages would be able to be more effective. The problem is that content management systems are created by IT without enough input from the people who will use the web to meet their strategic business goals. This is not a new issue, but it’s sad that it’s still the case. See this presentation of mine from 2004: https://www.slideshare.net/hilarymarsh/how-to-make-your-cms-rollout-a-success

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