How many of you are in feed-the-beast mode right now? You know what I’m talking about. You’ve got a blog. A YouTube channel. Twitter. Facebook. Snapchat. Instagram. Hell, get someone to figure out Periscope. We need to get on that.
Or perhaps you work in product development or internal communications. And there are new product descriptions and help content and 4 new HR campaigns next month and we haven’t reviewed last year’s posts for currency and.
And managing all that stuff becomes exhausting. It’s all you do. At best, you’re keeping the balls in the air. You no longer have time to even ask, “Should I be juggling all 14 of these balls anyway? What if I need 3 balls and one bowling pin?”
Well. That metaphor might be getting a little thin. But you know what I’m talking about.
It’s hard to make time for strategy when you can’t find time to go to the bathroom or eat lunch.
Consider this your reminder to plan a day now to think about what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, who you’re reaching, and whether all that ties back to your business goals. We’re nearly to the 4th quarter. Some organizations are well into planning for 2016, and others of you are just getting started. Wherever you are, use these questions to think about your content, whether you’re treating your content like an asset, and how you can help your audience better in 2016.
Plan now for your 2016 content strategy.
Who is my audience? Many of us have more than one. You may need to please the c-suite, as well as the customer, as well as the end user, and perhaps sales. We could go on. Often, an organization will target different kinds of content to different audiences. This is a real opportunity for content strategists: Help your organization effectively reach each audience with appropriate content.
What does my audience want to do? Most likely, they’d like to solve a problem. You may or may not be part of their initial thinking. Instead, they’re thinking, my printer is crap. I need a new one, like today. (And so perhaps your well-organized, clear product page and your easy-to-understand comparison tool will play into their solution.) Or, I’m late for the meeting and I need that address right now. (And so the fact that you stopped a visual designer from putting the office address in a fancy font in an image on the home page makes it easy for them to copy your address and link right over to Google Maps on their phone. At a red light. Shh, we won’t tell.) Understand their problem before you make them any content.
What are my organization’s goals, and how can I help the organization align with the needs of my audience? Here’s the big question. Many times, well-meaning organizations forget the first two questions and start here. This is a great question, but only when you ask it in context of the audience.
How can I use the tools I have to make that content happen? Or (hey, it’s budget time!), do I need new tools or staff to even come close? You know it’s always better if you can work with what you have. At least, your boss likes it better that way, and the CFO definitely does. But—content people are THE WORST about taking care of ourselves, because we are THE BEST at just making it work. You have shoestrings and baling wire? Then we have a CMS! These kinds of MacGyver solutions may win you applause for saving money or making the impossible possible, but they are often not sustainable in the long run. Do not apologize for needing the right tool to do the job. Sometimes spending the money on the front end, or allocating enough money to support operations long-term, really is the best fiscal choice. It’s your job to make the case.
Who will do this tomorrow? What about when I go on vacation? Have an operational plan for ongoing work. Just because you worked 18-hour days to get the app launched doesn’t mean your body or your brain can sustain that pace indefinitely. And whether you’re a one-person shop or the content evangelist on a large team, make sure you’re not alone in your thinking or your skills. If you’re in a small organization, you may need to crosstrain several other people about parts of your job. If you’re in a big organization, make sure people up the ladder appreciate the value content brings to the organization.
Who will make the decisions? All too often, we get the other details down but we don’t think about how we’ll manage those big-picture questions going forward. Creating new content all the time means regular opportunities for sticky questions to arise. Decide now what perspectives need to be at the table when you’re asking the content questions. Build your buy-in on the front end so you don’t have to apologize on the back end.