Content is a Business Asset

Logo_markonly This is the title of my keynote for Confab 2011 in Minneapolis, May 9-11. In the conversation I will share my vision about what's next for companies and their content.

Companies large and small are facing new and different challenges in content strategy.

When we begin to understand content as product, we're suddenly faced with challenges that can't be fixed with a new CMS or editorial calendar. Products require production, and that reality has significant impact on our organizational designs.

What does this new model look like? How can your content help meet your business objectives? How can your content initiatives truly focus on returns? Who’s executing content strategies that work?

These are some of the questions I will be addressing drawing on 20 years of experience working in five different industries — from Fortune 500 to start-up companies and everything in between. It is my habit to wrap tons of value around in person participation, so look out for posts building up to the session.

There will also e a leave-behind after the session. Stay tuned for more information on that, too.

My personal content strategy

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about changing your content mix and how my strategy is constantly evolving based upon goals and a flexible plan. My mix includes more than just this blog, although I consider the blog my online hub, as explained in the social networks participation page.

You need to know where you're going to figure out whether you're getting there. The answer to the most frequent question I get, which is how frequently should I publish? is dependent upon your goals. Why best practices and templates are mere indicators, idea-fodder material.

What can you learn from comparisons? That there are as many ways to get there as there are kinds of people and organizations. The performance and results you will achieve depend on what you set out to do and what works best for your personality.

Yes, there are a lot of "it depends" in business, and in life.

My focus with you at the session and in my posts is process and framework, ways of thinking about the challenge. In that case, the question becomes, how can you design a better process that allows you to achieve greater results? Where do you draw from in your organization to make that happen?

Designing results

Last year, Richard Becker ran a Fresh Content experiment and now gives us his take on what he's learned about how much is to little or too much content to publish. Disclosure: I was among the top three most picked authors among the 250 the team tracked.

The experiment focused on the quality of the content alone — and not the popularity of the authors. What all the picks had in common where two distinct traits: consistency and clarity. Becker added color on whether number of comments is a fair metric — I agree with him, take with a grain of context.

What the top picks had in common: the authors know what fits them with respect to content. This is your permission to develop your own writing style along with substance. Because substance wins the day, hands down.

Content is a business asset

And needs to be treated as such by your business.

So before you start talking about what to write and how much to push into each channel, hit pause and consider the quality of your signal, along with how you design a system that will make it stand out among what's already out there in your industry, competitive landscape, and community of stakeholders.

Worry less about the widgets you make available for people to share, and more about the substance of what you're putting out there. Then design to deliver that consistently and with clarity.

Confab has assembled the most diverse group of practitioners I have seen under one roof — that includes you — for what looks like a protracted, hands-on, lessons from the field opportunity to take stock, adjust, and/or rethink your approach. Join us, May 9-11, 2001.


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0 responses to “Content is a Business Asset”

  1. This confirms my thought that there are no rules in building a content strategy, no fixed ones at least. It all varies depending on your business, your goals, the resources you can invest into it and so on. You often have to do your best with little resources, and this can make it difficult to reach the goals you set.
    Making business owners/managers realize content is an asset and not a cost or waste of time is sometimes a big challenge on its own.

  2. Amazing lineup of speakers,and it couldn’t be more timely. The opportunities and challenges around content are huge, and quickly evolving. I agree with Gabriele in that a big issue is getting corporations, and senior management, to really take content seriously- and put the resources behind it. That ultimately means revamping the way we manage and reward employees/managers and to encourage good content from those far outside the marketing realm (too much of corporate “blogging” is basically disguised marketing speak). Of course they can always hire writers to help do the heavy lifting- the bandaid approach- but that defeats the purpose of social media, unleashing the true voices within the corporation- something I found challenging in my work the last few yrs with several big high-tech companies developing content strategies and programs, the most recent being Hewlett Packard. Despite some progress, we (corporate america) still have a long way to go on this front. Be fascinating to see how this is addressed in your conference.

  3. I love your emphasis on quality here as opposed to quantity. Too often, we push to meet a calendar or arbitrary deadlines to the detriment of the brand image and substance we’re attempting to portray.
    “Worry less about the widgets you make available for people to share, and more about the substance of what you’re putting out there. Then design to deliver that consistently and with clarity.”
    That’s a fantastic thought. The most important things are to create the expectation of value and consistency and to deliver on that promise.

  4. Valeria,
    Well reasoned, throughout. And thank you for including me.
    I left a longer comment yesterday, but it seems I forgot to type in the human code. Suffice to say that content is absolutely a business asset and its value is determined by what we put into it and how often we share it. Sending out low quality high frequency content devalues it because topic supply outpaces the demand.
    There are some exceptions, naturally. But quality is what people remember, and what people remember partly defines how they see us.
    All my best,

  5. Spot on! It’s great to be aware of the content strategies and best practices that others are finding success with, then adapt for our own needs and situation.
    When I developed my content strategy, and the following editorial calendar, I added a step in the process (that’s critical for me), which is a reality check. I want to set myself up for success since I tend to forget that I’m not really Superwoman.

  6. @Gabriele — in my early corporate years I wondered often why utilize and listen to “best practices” and “benchmarks” at the exclusion of testing new approaches. Then I wondered why spend more on pushing the message out than crafting a message worth hearing/reading.
    @Mark — hope to see you at Confab then. There have been many changes in the last couple of years and organizations should take a hard look at where new opportunities reside, then support them with new structures. In some cases, it may not be about convincing someone, even a high ranking someone, that something is worth pursuing. Instead, bring in or identify who is ready to make that happen. “what have you done for me lately” should be asked beyond the proverbial sales group.
    @Kenny — it’s what I call the chicken and egg conundrum. Strategy is motivation, not an excuse to forget paying attention to what is happening. For example, if you have a piece of content that generates a lot of interest and can expand on the topic, or invite other perspectives from the readership, go deep, etc.?
    @Rich — now I am sorry I missed your longer comment as I’m quite certain there was goodness in it. Demand and supply is a very valid concept. I have asked myself that question: should I post less often and deeper material? On one hand I feel demand for what I offer would go up that way. On the other, I would miss the insights from conversations with readers. So my way of meeting myself in the middle on this is to vary the content and include conversational interviews with people who are doing interesting work, books reviews, and soon more tool reviews. To me tucked into quality is also how something makes you feel.
    @Gina — a reality check is good practice. And sometimes results are surprising, as in unexpected.

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