I’m a firm believer that any organization of any size can create content that helps both the user accomplish something and the organization achieve a goal or objective. It doesn’t have to be costly– it just has to follow some best practices and clear principles.
One common ground between big brand content strategy I’ve read about and small business content strategy that I work on is alignment– keeping everyone informed and involved in some way shape for form. Involving others means finding a way to clearly articulate what you want to happen, how you plan on getting there and why it’s worth all the work.
When it comes to aligning project team members, sponsors and stakeholders with a content strategy, Kristina Halvorson (Brain Traffic CEO, successful strategist, author) states that “people who are open to input and opinions succeed far more often than those who try to keep their projects under wraps” (Content Strategy for the Web 2nd ed., pp. 40).
You only get those valuable inputs and opinions by initiating dialogue, having conversations and just keeping everyone up-to-date about what you have in store for content.
In a smaller organization, where everyone’s busy doing three to five things at once, it’s easy to get caught up in your own pool of things. For me, it’s our web content and its strategy, among customer service, marketing and making excellent coffee. Of course, we all know that working on content strategy alone, in a silo, is a big mistake. Also, not letting your coffee beans bloom before brewing is a bigger one.
So I try my best to inform, update and deliver as much relevant information to people who have a stake in our content. Quick shout out to my colleagues: if you’re tired of hearing and reading about content from me, I’m sorry– it’s a rough, bumpy road towards greatness, okay?
"I'm excited to see what comes out of this. I know it takes time to develop great content," said my boss, after a brief status meeting.
I’ll take that as a great sign that there’s faith behind our developing content strategy. We may not have big business resources, but our intent is the same: we have objectives to reach, our customers have desires and expectations of our industry and we believe that great content can get us some wins.
If you’re in a small organization and it’s your task to wrangle in marketing, communications, web content and things of that nature, I hope this piece inspires you to stick to your content best practices and get that strategy to the finish line. It’s definitely worth while for you and your employer. Your audience will love the useful value that you’ll bring.
Also consider this piece me cheering you on. We can do this. If you want real-time cheering, get in touch.
Content strategy can make the most out of small business resources.
The more you can demonstrate that this strategy helps achieve the business’s objectives, the better. Maybe it’s how web content can drive more leads. Perhaps it’s improving internal content to increase efficiency between colleagues. You’ll have to solve for where organizational and user objectives meet to fully realize the benefits of creating a plan for sustainable content.
If there’s a business objective, a need by your customers and you know deep down that developing great content is the solution to meet that objective and satisfy those needs, there needs to be a strategy behind it. Not just so you have something to leave a mark with, but because there are far too many smaller organizations that skin their knees, chip teeth and get black eyes from jumping into content blindly.
Remember that competitor blog or social media channel that ran out of gas after a while? Yeah, no one wants that to happen. Whoever’s running that show probably isn’t as prepared as you are.
Connecting the use of limited resources to achieving company goals is powerful stuff. Who wouldn’t want to see their dollar go the extra mile, to inevitably make some more dollars?
In a situation with limited resources, presenting your plan in the context of efficiency and sustainability works wonders. Content that has a sustainable plan, efficient development and a method of validation and evaluation over time leads to:
- Doing it right the first time: fewer resources spent on repairing busted content, more spending on other organizational needs
- Sharing benefits from methodology: elements of content strategy borrow and share concepts from marketing, information science and technology and operations-- all of which can benefit small businesses that are too busy to think about these things.
Sustainable content gets you a lot of mileage if it works for your organization.
There’s all this hype about achieving relationships with customers and engaging them 24/7. Ew, I just shivered a little writing that sentence. So cheesy.
Andrew Keller, CEO of Crispin Porter + Bogusky, sent an email to his workforce that touched upon sustainable branding and marketing that interacts with their customers at all hours of the day, whenever they need it. It’s an ad man’s realization that advertising could learn a lot from decade’s old practices of creating great web content. That same knowledge can be put to use by anyone willing to help their organization and their users and customers.
But they’re an ad agency with lots of bucks to use. We’re tiny!
C’mon. We’re in a time where punk data journalism is crippling the traditional fourth estate.
I see no reason for a smaller organization to not be able to provide value to their customers at all hours of the day. The internet is open game for anyone with great intention and a strong idea. If you can provide some kind of content that solves a problem at the wee hours of the morning, where your customer is thanking the heavens for your stuff, I’d say that’s a huge win.
Look at Wikipedia. Look at Craigslist. Look at AngryAsianMan. They’re simple, effective and lasting pieces of web content. They have volunteers, teams and sole proprietors who work really hard at achieving their goals and helping their users.
The solution that you, me and any organization can provide needs to be super contextual to the audience need, be accessible and usable on whatever channel they’re using. Even the smallest organization with the proper strategy and resource alignment can accomplish this. It just takes advocates for strong, effective content strategy and development to make it happen. Time, patience, coffee and beer help, too.
Practicing principles goes a long way too.
Well damn, I prepped and presented, but our company just can’t justify spending time on content strategy, even though we want to produce a ton of web content.
Just because your busy organization doesn’t want to invest in developing a content strategy doesn’t mean you have to drop it all together. Make it your own strategy– your own work ethic. As many a hip hop musician would say, you do you.
The principles of content strategy don’t involve new discoveries– it’s just discovering new ways to tackle content. It deals with knowing what you have to work with, what you’re working towards and how to get there sustainably. This type of thinking exists in all kinds of industries. They’re great best practices. As a professional, best practices are your BFFs. They won’t backstab you or steal your girlfriend.
If the content strategy plan doesn’t work out, at least you have principles that you can use towards developing great work. Perhaps the great work that you generate can lead your organization to a point where they should reconsider your request to develop an overarching content strategy to keep producing quality content.
In the end, it’s the process and learning that makes us better practitioners.
Image belongs to Nintendo, Inc.