Become a Content Strategy Sensei – Master the Arts of Persuasion and Invention
Content encompasses everything a user comes to read, learn, see and experience from your business, whatever way you're delivering it.
Whether focusing on technical, editorial or structural aspects of content, a content strategist will be crucial cog in a marketing team. They need to make sure that they are guiding a content team with creation, delivery and governance, all the way supporting a high-level vision they should already have in place at the beginning.
The Art of Persuasion
Experience in writing, editing and marketing can help in the job of a content strategist. But I would argue that the one crucial skill you need to be a successful one is persuasion.
Many people don't understand content or its importance, and this is a challenge you might have to face whether you're working for a small start-up or a monolith enterprise. You'll need to get people on your side.
You'll need to convince people that the content you have on platforms such as the web, social media or intranet works – meeting the business goals that have been set.
This works equally on the agency or client-side. If you're in an agency, you'll need to convince clients on the value of content and what areas they should be focusing on. If you're client-side, you need to reach out to stakeholders throughout the business.
If people aren't listening, then it's easy to get stuck. They won't listen to the strategic recommendations that you know are vital in moving forward with content strategy. You'll hit a brick wall and there might be no way to go forward.
But get them on your side, get them excited about content – and the job becomes much easier. You'll be able to implement those recommendations because you have different parts of the business on the same page.
The Art of Invention
Invention isn't always a word associated with business or marketing. But in content strategy, it’s a crucial skill to have that means the difference between success and failure.
Content Strategist Shelly Bowen presents the idea of a 'Magic Layer'. For agencies this is the place between research and deliverables. On the client-side, this in the space between research and your future promotion!
The reason invention is so important in a content strategy, is that there is never a one-size fits all approach. There will always be differences between what a user is looking for and the capabilities organisations have in providing for that user.
A content strategist needs to look at what content their agency or organisation can provide, use different approaches, and see what solution fits best the situation. It will require trial and error, as well as a good use of analytics to measure results.
Often a core part of an agency content strategist's job is to look at what kind of content is moving throughout a business (which is often very messy), and put it all together in a structured way - think audits, workflows and calendars for example.
Or in an organisation, make sure content is communicated to your audience in a proper voice and the right messaging.
The value of a human
Persuasion and invention are not skills you associate with computers. This is why I personally don't place much faith in content marketing software that for example, claims itself as an end-to-end solution for a content strategist, or provide sources of content that are crowd-sourced or licensed. There are definitely areas of marketing where automation does work and fit, but I don’t think this is it.
I also don’t think it’s possible to have a one-guide-fits-all approach to content strategy. By all means, content strategists need to read around and absorb information relevant them both online and print.
But they need to make sure the knowledge they take and put into practice is suitable for what they are trying to do, and create something unique which fits the business they are working with or for.