The first step in developing a content strategy is to figure out what’s wrong with the content. Why aren’t you getting the traffic that you initially thought you would receive? Start to hypothesize what could be wrong. For example, “The majority of the content on your site is for <audience a>, but you’re really trying to increase conversation with <audience b>” (Casey 6). Once you’ve figured out what you think the problem is you can decide how you want to prove or disprove them. For the example that we’ve chosen, we would use “user testing”. If you want to increase conversations with <audience b> get that audience to test out the new content that you’re providing. “Getting insights from actual users is a great way to add some subjectivity to your assessment. You can look at things like how content makes a user feel, how easy your content is to understand, and how findable key content is” (Casey 8).
Now that a problem has been identified because of the user testing, try and turn it into an opportunity. No one likes problems, but opportunities can be worked with, especially when pitching this project to your higher-ups. When pitching your project to the higher-ups keep a few things in mind. “First, it may make sense to start with something small that doesn’t require a ton of time or budget. Decision-makers have a harder time saying no to something little risk” (Casey 15). Secondly, remember that they want to do what’s right. The higher-ups and decision-makers will spend their time and money on a lot of the right things. Convince them that your project is one of them.
Now, to convince them of your project you need to state your case. It’s almost like a math problem. Talk about the missed opportunities that could be had if your project isn’t given resources. Let’s go back to our original example. Let’s say <audience a> are ages 25-40 and <audience b> are ages 16-24.
Your pitch: We need to make our site more mobile-friendly. “In 2013, Netbiscuits research found that 76% of consumers will abandon a website if it’s not optimized for mobile browsing, while over 30% simply won’t bother trying to use a brand’s non-optimized site, or turn to a competitor instead” (wired.com). We need to connect to people aged 16-24. 18% of that age group spend nearly 50 hours a week online and 95% of this age group get online using their smartphone. If we make the site more mobile-friendly, we reduce the risk of losing 76% of 16-24 year-olds and increase the probability of gaining more users. There’s no risk in making a more mobile-friendly site.
Once you’ve finished your pitch it’s time to get stakeholders on board. “Stakeholder involvement and alignment will make or break your project. This is true for pretty much any project an organization takes on. But it’s especially true for content projects” (Casey 27). A stakeholder is anyone who can affect or is affected by the project. There are five different roles for stakeholders:
- Project Owner
- “The person who is ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the project” (Casey 28). This could be you.
- Decision Makers
- Your project will help solve their problems. They will typically say a lot regarding the project and can approve or veto the work.
- These people will tell others the importance of your project.
- This role is like decision-makers, but they don’t have the power to approve or veto the work.
- This role can stop a project in its tracks.
Along with the five different types of roles there are for stakeholders there are also four different types of stakeholders:
- They set the vision and goals for the business.
- “These are the subject matter experts who have the detailed knowledge about an organization’s products, services, offerings, and so on” (Casey 29).
- This type of stakeholder is responsible for putting your strategy into action.
- User Proxy
- These are the people who have knowledge/ experience related to your target audience.
Now, with the knowledge of the different roles and types that stakeholders can be it’s time to create a team. Figure out who you want to work with and who you should talk to regarding each point in your project. Start filling in each person that comes to mind into one of their roles or types. Remember, throughout this whole process you need to keep your stakeholders in the loop.
With your team fully formed, it’s time to put people in their appropriate places. You don’t want your experts on 16-24 year-olds to set the vision for the project, right? You want them focused on user proxy. Make sure each person/ group is playing to their strong suits (That’s why you filled in each person to a specific role and type).
Before you begin the actual project, you need to have your opening meeting. The first meeting would be used to just outline what the project is and to make sure every person understands each step and how they will all be involved in the project. Every meeting should have a set of ground rules. It’s up to you to make them, but a few good ones to have would be no electronics (unless needed) or no interruptions. Make sure if someone is talking everyone listens.
Now with the meeting and ground rules out of the way, it’s time to get started on the project.
Create a checklist of what needs to be planned for. For example, you would need someone to scout other sites and see how they were made more mobile-friendly. Along with the checklist, make sure there’s “…a single source of truth about the project that everyone can reference. Projects oftentimes get underway and go off the rails because objectives were misinterpreted, deliverables weren’t clearly defined, a date got pushed back that caused a snowball effect, or an important decision didn’t get documented and communicated” (Casey 50).
Don’t forget to include a budget. A budget is a must, just like the checklist and the source of truth. “If you’re hiring someone from the outside to do most of the work, you could just include the total budget for the work. If you’re doing the work internally, I suggest listing the number of hours you’re estimating it will take for each person or team” (Casey 52). A budget helps keep you on track, it’s probably one of the most important things to have for a project to be successful, especially if you’re outsourcing. If you don’t set up a time frame or budget no one is going to know when their deadline is or how much they can spend. This could result in you having to pay an outsourced member of the team, much more than originally thought. If you budgeted correctly and gave them a flat fee instead of an hourly wage, it not only saves you and the company money but also pushes the person to get everything in on time, because they don’t make any more money if they keep pushing it aside.
Casey, Meghan. The Content Strategy Toolkit: Methods, Guidelines, and Templates for Getting Content Right. New Riders, 2015.
Daniel Weisbeck, Netbiscuits. “Context Is King – Long Live the King.” Wired, Wired, 7 Aug. 2015, https://www.wired.com/insights/2014/01/context-king-long-live-king/.
Hymas, Charles. “A Fifth of 16-24 Year Olds Spend More than Seven Hours a Day Online Every Day of the Week, Exclusive Ofcom Figures Reveal.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 11 Aug. 2018, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/08/11/fifth-16-24-year-olds-spend-seven-hours-day-online-every-day/.