Content GIGO

I was playing with the settings of my premium newsletter (available starting in June) and came across a piece of advice that is probably familiar to you, especially if you publish on the Web:

If you copied your content from MS Word, the only way to fix it is to start a new campaign and add clean content. Word creates so much junk code that the tool can’t even clean it up.

Which is a classic example of GIGO. That stands for garbage in, garbage out. We see it easily with code, and developers will give you fair warning not to do that to them, if you want your relationship to last beyond one project. Or else.

Loss of time, waste of resources, and aggravation come your way — either on the back end to fix it, or the front end in user experience.

Same thing happens with learning. Input bad information and you get poor or no results in return. The brain is an amazing processor. When it works collaboratively with the heart, it can really take us places.

If we're fairly good at detecting code garbage, and can spot bad information when we're looking, we aren't as good at detecting garbage in our content.

See if you recognize these symptoms:

  • it's for prospects and customers
  • it needs to be broad enough to promote awareness and deep enough to get people in the door
  • it's going to be used as a giveaway at the conference, and as a lead nurturing piece
  • it will serve as an overview once every department has had the chance to add their points
  • it's being handled by the technical lead, all you need to do is make it pretty

While each of these bullets is an opportunity to define the content purpose and scope, there often isn't enough time — or budget — to go from that list to this one.

1. let's define our content strategy for the year, inclusive of a way to test approaches and measure results:

  • what's the best way to address the needs of prospect segments?
  • what do we know about our customers and their feedback and how are we going to translate their interest in specific content matching their roles into further business value?
  • which critical connection points in the buyer decision journey do we need to address first? For example, do people know about our services? When are people dropping off and never coming back to our site?
  • how many key events are we planning for the year and what is the main goal of each?
  • what is our voice? Do we have one? Who is going to serve as editorial board? Who's managing the process?
  • how can the technical team collaborate with the copy writers? Is volume a consideration? Can we teach the techies to write for the Web, then expect to edit? Do we interview subject matter experts to get the nuggets for a broader campaign and then get them geeky on video for a tech buyer?
  • and so on

2. let's get the project plan out to the teams and have them sign it and agree to it, with a few blank lines to make room for the opportunistic situations.

Can you afford to go the first route twice, or three times, or every quarter?


[image courtesy of Shaymain Ewer]

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