It is easily the most asked question we have to answer when we begin discussing content challenges and opportunities with clients. While content strategists tend to have a pretty good idea what the purpose of content strategy is, it isn’t always clear to senior executives, especially when you’re looking for ways to justify an ongoing or future investment. This article will demonstrate how you can guide the conversation and create a transparent picture of the requirements and benefits.
The outcome of any conversation with senior leadership is, if you think about it, an exercise of content strategy in itself. The better you understand the interests of your audience and the better you can tailor your story to those wants while keeping your needs in mind, the greater the chance you can connect and maintain support in what you do now, or want to do in the future. It’s not a matter of how often you communicate, or how long you communicate. It’s a matter of conclusive storytelling that’s built on quality messaging.
Let’s be honest. Content strategy is, typically, not a charitable effort, but an investment. It’s a line item on the balance sheet that needs to justify its existence by providing a greater value than cost. It’s rare to find an executive with budget responsibility to invest in an effort they do not understand. So, to help someone else to make decisions, you need to address return of investment as well as investment in itself. This conversation makes most sense when you consider (1) Benefits and (2) Requirements. The outcome of your effort relies on your ability to explain both and tell a conclusive story of how the two depend on each other.
2. Your First Deliverable: 3 Core Benefits of Content Strategy (to Your Organization)
Maximize opportunity, reduce risk.
Content strategy is a deliberate effort to use a strategic element to improve the impact of an otherwise very tactical effort (content creation). By understanding the “why?” of content, content strategy provides the necessary qualitative component that helps organizations increase their chance to break through the barrier of 360-degree content saturation and plan, create, and deliver the right content for the right user at the right time.
Align with business goals.
I cannot count the number of times I have asked a client, “Why do you have a website/social media presence/mobile app?” and was met with eye rolls on the other side. Yet, it is the simplest question about digital (content) ecosystem that most organizations are not able to answer instantly – and may have never even asked themselves. An answer such as “because everyone has a website” is far more common than “desired outcome X”. For businesses, the value of content is closely aligned with the overall measurable business goals. Content strategy must support these goals at all times to sustain its value and is most frequently answered in terms of (1) acquisition of target audiences, (2) qualification of target audiences, (3) conversion of target audiences. Make sure to explain the priorities of your content strategy as they relate to these 3 goal categories.
Act more, react less.
Content strategy is based on insight in audience (user, customer, and prospect) behavior. A continuous investment in content strategy will almost always result in an improved understanding of acquisition, engagement, and conversion challenges and opportunities. It’s not just content that will benefit, but the entire organization as a whole by identifying behavior trends earlier which enables the most advanced content organizations to shape content requirements rather than following them and realizing acquisition/engagement/conversion opportunities that would not be accessible otherwise – or would have only been available to competitors.
3. Your Second Deliverable: Content Strategy Requirements
There’s no such thing as a free lunch. The benefits of a content strategy come with an appropriate consideration of requirements that are most likely or best-suited to achieve the business goals of an organization.
Without a reasonable investment in content, an investment in technology may almost be impossible to realize.
We content strategists at Americaneagle.com believe that content is the muscle fabric of your digital ecosystem that enables technology to move in the direction it is aimed at. When the World Wide Web came to life in the early 1990s, it was technology that enabled a new form of communication through digital content creation. Over the past 10 years, this scenario has changed – it is now content that enables technology and makes new possibilities in extended reality (i.e. augmented reality and virtual reality) and artificial intelligence possible. The availability of content – or lack thereof – single-handedly killed promising technologies such as 3D in recent times and, about 15 years ago, HD-DVD. Mature ways of communication always require a strategic investment in content to be able to succeed.
Content is a strategic and a tactical investment.
Content strategy is never a short-term investment, but a long-term commitment that will reveal increasing value over time. A successful content strategy always consists of a data-informed content direction that answers the “why?,” the tactical execution, often referred to in content marketing as the “what?,” and content governance as the “how?.” The better an organization can commit to these three components not in form of quantity, but in quality, the more likely it is to achieve sustainable content success.
Content is an effort based on accountability built on trust and confidence.
No content strategy can succeed without full executive buy-in. Cohesive and successful content operations always operate on content structures that mimic editorial organizations. The sole decision capacity and accountability for all content decisions is given to a single person or group, which are empowered to direct content creators with a sense of certainty that an entire group can work diligently toward a common and agreed-to goal. This certainty of knowing that content creators create content that contribute to an organization goal with accountability of success and failure is crucial to a content strategy’s ability to achieve its maximum potential.
How to Get Started
The task of getting this conversation started can be daunting. At Americaneagle.com, we’re with you every step of the way – from initial conversations about challenges and opportunities, to defining a content strategy direction, building a complete content strategy from scratch or rebuilding an existing strategy, to implementation and execution. And when you feel you can use the help of an experienced partner at your side, we’re here for you. Contact us today to get started.