Content Analysis, Where is the Story?

Treating content as a product requires new thinking inside organizations. Indeed, it's much easier to simply add article writing and publishing to overflowing plates. Without redesigning the flow and enrolling new resources this is a recipe for failure — and burnout.

While we have an intellectual understanding that change is a must — as individuals and organizations — change is really hard to do. Because habits are hard to break, and they go something like this: we think, then talk, then do within certain patterns.

And especially when success comes, continued success is a product of or the result of repeating those behaviors over and over again. Until we become very good at what worked.

Rewiring yourself for content

It's possible to move into a new direction, or to find direction once again. One little secret people don't talk about as much is that good content is personal. It requires you embrace who you are, that's what your customers are buying. That's what they respond to.

If your corporate DNA is for and by engineers, write for and by engineers. Take a look at what Indium Corp. is doing, for example.

Do you have a group in charge of thinking about and making change happen in your product mix and services based upon customer insights? Are you paying attention to the marketplace? Are you connecting with opportunity? Put content in there, too.

Planning, and a long term vision need to be part of the consideration. Original, engaging content is valuable just in the same way great copy that sells is — you benefit from it in proportion to your investment in it

Change the way you write

The question is not whether change will happen or not — it will, it is happening. Every industry and business is being disrupted — in products and services alike. The people you thought of as your customers are just buyers now — going from one transaction to the other.

You know what that means, right? High attrition rates. 

People respond to people, not features, not lifeless content.

The real question is are you willing to change how you write? Do you want to ? Om Malik has an excellent piece about corporate DNA. It's excellent on many levels:

  1. it's rich in information you can use
  2. it's conversational in tone
  3. thus it's very personal
  4. therefore engaging
  5. because you relate to it, even if you haven't met Malik
  6. yet, it makes you want to meet him or get to know him better
  7. in fact, you probably want to be a better person when you're done reading it

The three main elements can be distilled down to: person to person, which frames and gains permission to talk about business to business, and a call to action at the end. Wouldn't you want to elicit the same kind of visceral response when customers read your content as you get from his post?

Relate to them in human terms

In many organizations, content is still an afterthought — campaigns rule, connecting the dots is still an aspiration. Going from marketing at to publishing and interacting with is a stretch. Writing in ways that make you more relatable to is one way to build muscle agility toward it.

Malik follows a fairly simple structure in his post. See the narrative in his post by viewing the slides up top.

You all have stories that are personal, that create intimacy, that people can relate to, and that you can relate to those of other business people. What are you waiting for to share those stories? Passion for your idea should drive you to invest in its communication.

Save yourselves, write like you mean it. What content behaviors are you going to change?


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0 responses to “Content Analysis, Where is the Story?”

  1. Valeria, This post really hit home with me. Question: As a communicator embraces change as you describe in the post, how can he/she manage clients (leaders, managers, etc.) to accept interaction? The traditional way is to make the business case, but I’m thinking that just beginning to change the habits without high profile announcements may also be a good way to go.

  2. The best way to create new habits is by learning what it feels like to do something. What steps can you take to help leaders/managers/colleagues experience the difference? I have a story of something I did that made a difference in a fairly conservative corporate environment. I think I should share in a post — making a note of it.

  3. Nice piece, and hits right at the core of some key issues, as to why businesses are struggling with social media. Most co’s (including big tech co’s I’ve worked with last few years) are heavily sales driven–if it doesn’t add to the bottom line, transforming the content is only a “nice to have” on the checklist. Small co’s are living hand to mouth so this barely registers, while the big guys are still run by senior managers that come out of the traditional marketing world. They want to embrace social media and a new content strategy, and yes, there have been some strides made…but overall, we’re coming up short and it’s an unnatural fit…Sure there are exceptions but if you really took a clear look at most co’s, fundamental changes are coming slow, if at all (just throwing up some blogs and Twitter accounts doesn’t count). We are still in the early stages of this revolution, and as you keep saying, content is the key–but nothing will happen until we change mindsets.

  4. We had a couple of rogue sales guys at my last corp job who had created digital outposts in an effort to drive traffic to their name and region. Those teams understand the value of content and are eager to realize it. What often happens is in those very same companies marketing is underfunded, stretched to the max, and, in some cases, the top person doesn’t understand it nor appreciate it. Which is why there is a disconnect. Companies would rather go out of business than change. Most do.

  5. Smart post, Valeria. We were just talking about the best type of content at work the other day and stories came up as something customers can relate to and want to share.
    You are right, culture change is no flip of a switch. It takes a long time and one of the toughest parts is creating buy in that people need to do their jobs a different way. For instance, the person who has spent 10 years writing press releases every day might better serve the company by cutting that time in half and working to create other types of online content people are more likely to share. But without leadership telling him/her to change, the move will occur at glacial speeds.
    Do you have any tips for speeding up change? Or for helping folks see the benefits of doing their jobs a different way? Would be interested to hear anything you could share. Thanks.

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