Selling content strategy

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How do you convince people they need content strategy? Karen has been persuading organizations they need it since 1998. In this session, she'll discuss different approaches for talking about content strategy with people who have never heard of it and don't know why they should care. You'll leave with techniques you can use to evangelize the importance of content in your company or agency.

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  • Providing session description story to Kristina\nDid a talk at IA Summit with Lou Rosenfeld several years back called Selling Information Architecture\nSat down to make these slides after the party last night, had a crisis of confidence about the title\nSelling sounds so... sales-y. Should I have called it something different, to convey that it’s about persuading people to care about content strategy?\n
  • Spread the good word?\nHate the word evangelize almost as much I hate monetize\n
  • Promotion? It has prom in it.\n
  • Someone I talked to referred to it as my “championing” research and I was like Champion!\nConveys WINNING\n
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  • Fresh out of grad school\nStudied a combo of tech writing and human computer interaction\nAt the time seemed exotic and ridiculous, like I was majoring in Klingon language studies\nIn retrospect: prescient\nGot a job at a small little company based in Soho called Razorfish, about 30 people\nA little bit questionable but the guys who ran it were from Minnesota, I grew up in Hopkins and one of them went to my high school, so I figured these were my people\n
  • Got hired with the most hilariously overreaching job title: Information Designer/Writer\nIn an industry with a lot of crazy titles I think this is one of the best\nDo you know anyone who’s a good writer who is also good at data viz? If you do, can I hire that person?\nAnother woman who had the same title, and after not very long we revolted and insisted on new labels\nI started a department called Information Architecture and immediately started hiring people like mad\nI used to joke that I could put out a job posting at this time that said “information architect wanted” and if you knew what that meant, you were qualified for the job\nThis other woman, the amazing Camille Shandor, started a content strategy group, and I want to give her a huge shout-out for being fantastic and way ahead of her time\n
  • So, these years were really good for me running an IA group. We had a book. We had an awesome conference, like you guys just cannot imagine what it’s like to go to an event with 500 people who all think the way you do and care about the same stuff you do. We had an even more amazing conference website. We had SIGIA, the mailing list to end all mailing lists, which I mean literally—I never wanted to join another mailing list ever again.\n
  • Content strategy didn’t have much of anything\nBig gaping void. No community. No publications. The few presentations or papers about it from this time were pretty much just thrown into that void.\n\nMy attitude: I’m winning!\n\nOrg structure issue: I was incentivized to care about IA and not about CS\n
  • Fast forward to 2004\nVery different environment, went from being on top of the world\nBottom fell out of the market in 2000, 2001\nWent from 2000 person company to a 200 person company\nWent through some very cold, very dark nights, like winter in the wilderness huddled together for warmth\nSomeone asked me, what were your favorite years there, have to say that period from 2001-2004\nEveryone was good, everyone was committed, everyone really wanted to be working there\nBy about 2004 the market started to pick up again, got the sense that even if we weren’t out of the woods yet, at least spring was coming\n
  • I’m running the UX team in NYC, eventually took a national role before I quit\nProblem with this company is that IA is the solution to every problem\nIncentivized to care about everything\nConflicts between team members, IAs being thrown at the problem\nProblems on projects, 11th hour shitstorm\nClient content person crying in a meeting\nOpportunity for sales\n
  • Story of what I did to get people thinking more about CS\nStories from other people about what they did, grateful for their time and generosity\nWhat are the challenges, the roadblocks, and how do you get around them?\nWhat are techniques you can use to get the light bulb to go on over someone’s head?\n
  • In my free time, when I’m not running a business or speaking at conferences or talking to Halvorson about shoes\nI teach a class in design management in the interaction design program at the school of visual arts in manhattan\nBasically business skills for UX people, how do you frame your POV in terms of business goalsA lot of it is every bit as relevant to CS as it is to UX or Design\n\nOne of my favorite sayings is “design is the easy part.” And copywriting is the easy part too. What’s hard is making things happen within an organization, getting people to change their minds and change their work processes to do things in a new way.\n\nChart that encapsulates pretty much everything I know about strategy, management, business, process. Those are big topics, so it’s a little complicated, but I’ll walk you through it.\n
  • I didn’t invent this. It comes from no less than Tim Brennan at Apple, and it describes how they work. I think it’s a useful model. Here’s how it works.\n\nFirst, we figure out what the hell it is we’re going to do.\nThen, some stuff happens. It’s usually pretty messy.\nIf we do it right, money pops out the other side.\n\nAt an off-site for Apple Computer’s Creative Services department, Tim Brennan began a presentation of his group’s work by showing this model. “Here’s how we work,” he said. “Somebody calls up with a project; we do some stuff; and the money follows.”\n
  • I’ll use this to frame our conversation about selling CS.\nThis is part of the strategy piece, the planning piece of it\nYou want to guide the definition of the question, not just the tactics of the solution\nYou’re a visionary, not an order taker\n\n
  • I really gave this talk the wrong title, didn’t I?\n\nYou are a detective. Your ears prick up every time you hear someone discussing a problem, and you think about how CS might help avoid that problem in the future.\nYou are identifying problems in other people's lives and using your secret CS weapon to solve them\nInvent a problem and then offer the solution. Sneaky! Like: have you anticipated all these things that are going to happen down the line? You don’t want to deal with them, right? I will deal with them.\n\n
  • We talk about this all the time, right? How does content get a seat at the table?\nThe way you get there isn’t just by deeply understanding content.\nIt’s by also grokking and being very sympathetic to the needs of everyone else at that table.\n
  • Change management, UX, design, tech, marketing, editorial\nYou get in through the editorial door\nWay you differentiate and build content practice is to sit at all those seats\n\nRF, audio designer\nPassive aggressive email, “you cannot have a kickoff meeting without an audio designer present!”\n\nThe one thing they do not want is another body at that tableHarder to make decisions, more potential for conflict, they have to buy another sandwich for lunch\nIf you want to be at that table, they have to feel like you’re going to add value, make their lives easier and not more difficult\n
  • I want to get brought in earlier\nHave hired dozens, hundreds of people over the years, Have been through several major periods of growth, can’t hire fast enough\nSpend all day for weeks on end screening resumes and interviewing candidates\nHuge red flag is when people say "I want to be more strategic" Means "I don't want to do any work" Work is hard, I want to have ideas and then have other people do the work.\nPeople who are good strategic thinkers naturally get pulled in sooner\nGood strategic thinkers are rare\nneed to demonstrate this kind of thinking when you can\nThere is a reason you're not invited to the early meetings. Figure out what you need to do differently to get there.\nGoal of being in the early meetings CANNOT just be to avoid pain for yourself later in the process when you are brought in too late. They don’t care about your pain. That’s why they pay you.\nWhat if you do get in early?\nAsk the right questions, be super prepared about what you need to poke at\nBe super positive, friendly, helpful. No ur doin it wrong. \nGive it away for free, position as a bonus at the start of the project\n
  • At an off-site for Apple Computer’s Creative Services department, Tim Brennan began a presentation of his group’s work by showing this model. “Here’s how we work,” he said. “Somebody calls up with a project; we do some stuff; and the money follows.”\n
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  • Need to understand people's entrenched roles, power structures\nPeople have their little patch of turf and will defend it (see ad agencies)\nAgile vs waterfall\nDepartment vs team based roles\n\nWhat if you get brought in late?\nBe able to develop a plan based on what you can do with the budget and timeframe\nThis is NOT the time to complain about how much better a job you could have done had you been brought in earlier\nDo a good job and then go back and explain how to bring you in earlier\n
  • Balance strategic and tactical in talking about what you do\nUX/IA did a great job of explaining what people were going to get\nIdentify a standard set of tasks and deliverables, give yourself some flexibility in what you actually produce.\nCreate deliverables that feed other deliverables, create efficiencies, not just a pretty document that gets set aside\n
  • Large blobs of time vs smaller chunks of time\nSelling activities/deliverables vs selling strategy or change management, dont know what you'll need to do\nNot in the business of selling deliverables, but need to scope them\nFind ways to build in time for strategic perspective\nResistance because it means more time, more work, need to position it as time saved and cost saved in the long run\nProject managers will want a very clearly defined set of tasks and deliverables, with a clear way to budget time. That is their job.\nBe adaptable in terms of what you can accomplish under different timeframes.\n
  • At an off-site for Apple Computer’s Creative Services department, Tim Brennan began a presentation of his group’s work by showing this model. “Here’s how we work,” he said. “Somebody calls up with a project; we do some stuff; and the money follows.”\n
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  • Have to understand how the company makes money, how they value what you do\nI love the word value, evaluate, in a business context. Values in other contexts sound amorphous, intangible. But when you talk about how a business values something, how they evaluate performance, it nearly always implies a tangible metric, which is usually money.\n\nDrucker says, basically, that profit is not the goal of a business, but its yardstick. It’s the way that business measures, evaluates, how successful it is in creating value for customers.\n\nStop talking about content, talk about how it plugs into the rest of the business, what the business goals and priorities are.\nDo not say that content strategy is copywriting on steroids. You are hurting the discipline.\n
  • Argument that you will increase sales is generally more effective than an argument that you can make things more efficient\nInternal stakeholders are incentivized around growth, increased revenues, sales\nBusinesses don't generally recoup cost savings from efficiency except through layoffs, which is probably not what you want to promote\nException is embarrassing project delays\n11th hour shitstorm, takes longer and is more complicated at the end of the project than you can possibly \nContent doesn't just happen is an epiphany for a lot of people\nBudget time for editorial calendar, for CMS migration, for CMS content entry. 15 minutes per page doesn't seem like much, until you realize there's 1000 pages.\n
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  • If someone in the organization has suffered through an 11th hour shitstorm, go talk to them\nTry to quantify the time and effort required to deal with the fallout\nPut cost estimates next to these numbers and talk about them with the right people\nPeople I’ve talked to who have these examples they can point to find they’re one of the best possible ways to get the organization to see the light\n
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  • Use as a diagnostic, not just a way to "prove" you did good, manage up\nAnalytics as a wedge, persuasion\nEvaluate conversion rate of content, come up with a model for how to measure. Direct content efforts that way. Talk about successes.\nData is not google analytics, it's the result of a conversation about what you want to measure and why\n
  • You will get resistance to analytics. Calling into question the value of what PR or marketing is doing all day long. \n\nChallenge with the hard sell: you’re telling someone they’re not doing their job right. The message isn’t necessarily more compelling if you “prove” it to them with numbers.\nPeople really do emphasize the human side of things, the interpersonal side\nThis is not unique to selling CS, you can use this to run for student body president, obviously\n
  • Socialize your ideas, like you're dropping your ideas off at preschool so they will learn to stop hitting other children and eating paste\n
  • Brown bag sessions\n•Food\n•Cobble together presentation from other people's slides\n•Don't be so unassuming. Advocate for what you believe in.\n•Have an action plan for next steps afterwards\n\nMeet one on one with people for lunch\n•Go kibbutz with people, show initiative, if you poke enough eventually you'll make a hole\n•Crash meetings! Pretend you are a Type-A personality. Imagine you're the kind of person who won't take no for an answer, and behave like that.\n•Don't sit at your desk writing passive-aggressive emails\n
  • Don't be afraid to share links with senior management. Don't overwhelm, but remember those people are overwhelmed and intimidated by the pace of change in digital, need to keep up\nBring them answers, not problems\nIf you see this type of problem happening, here is how I can help, here is how to use me\n
  • Best way to sell CS is to not have to sell it at all\nGroundswell of external attention means that people will start asking for it\nI never really had to sell UX, it sold itself\nEvents like Confab or local meetups are HUGE in terms of promoting CS. Not directly, but don't discount the value of indirect persuasion.\nThe more talk there is about CS at conferences, in publications, the more orgs feel like they need to pay attention to it\n\nBuilding your profile, your public speaking skills, that all helps you learn how to persuade. Name dropping is social currency.\nEventually you get to the point where you don't have to sell it, people come to you and ask for it. Convinced before they find you. Relationship flows like water in the direction it's going.\n
  • I think UX is change management and design is change management too\n\nRazorfish had two good slogans back in the day\nFirst was “everything that can be digital will be”\nThe second was “digital change management”\nI remember at the time thinking that was a really dumb concept, that my job was to design websites\nI was just telling Jeff Dachis recently that he was 100% right about this, that everything we do is change management, and all the nuts and bolts of what makes a design good or makes content good are just tactics\n\nThis to me is what really interests me about this field: how do you get an organization, health care, financial services, higher ed, government, to start thinking of themselves as in the business of making digital products and services, and that they have to start thinking about their audience as USERS \n\nI can’t possibly even scratch the surface of this topic today, but I can give you three big ideas that might help inform how you think about it.\n
  • Many of our problems in digital are design problems, but I don’t mean web design. I mean organization design problems. Digital is so new, we haven’t evolved enough to actually integrate new practices and behaviors into the way we work. That might take a generation.\nOrg structure is not destiny, but it does reflect how a business thinks about itself\nTons of value in trying to diagnose power relationships through the lens of org design\nTell my students to look at where a job reports into, what that implies for the culture, how much impact the role will have, how they will need to interact with other roles or departments\nFrustrated with low level “evangelists” asked to change the culture from below\n\n
  • It’s the reward system, stupid\nAnecdote about RF website, Bob’s bonus\n\nhttp://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~wstarbuc/mob/kerrab.html\n
  • Think, for example, of a program designed to communicate new practices or principles throughout an organization. How do you select participants? Do you chose managers? Star performers? Or do you chose the people who, because others will listen to them, are going to be good evangelists for the new ideas?\n
  • Think, for example, of a program designed to communicate new practices or principles throughout an organization. How do you select participants? Do you chose managers? Star performers? Or do you chose the people who, because others will listen to them, are going to be good evangelists for the new ideas?\n
  • Think, for example, of a program designed to communicate new practices or principles throughout an organization. How do you select participants? Do you chose managers? Star performers? Or do you chose the people who, because others will listen to them, are going to be good evangelists for the new ideas?\n
  • Think, for example, of a program designed to communicate new practices or principles throughout an organization. How do you select participants? Do you chose managers? Star performers? Or do you chose the people who, because others will listen to them, are going to be good evangelists for the new ideas?\n
  • Not second coming of Christ\nJehovah’s witness\nEvangelism is hard\nCelebrate small wins, don’t get discouraged\n\n
  • Means tying it to business goals and business value. Articulate your case in terms of what businesses care about, which is money.\n
  • Promotion means persuasion, which you should be good at.\nYour skills in understanding your audience and tailoring a message for their needs should come in REALLY handy\n
  • Championing it means change management. Understand that people don’t like change. \n
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  • Selling content strategy

    1. Karen McGrane@karenmcgrane 1
    2. Concept ruthlessly stolen from Heather Champ @hchampVia Flickr User swirlspice under a Creative Commons License 2
    3. SELLING CONTENT STRATEGY 4
    4. EVANGELIZINGSELLING CONTENT STRATEGY 5
    5. EVANGELIZINGSELLING CONTENT STRATEGYPROMOTING 6
    6. EVANGELIZINGSELLING CONTENT STRATEGYPROMOTINGCHAMPIONING 7
    7. WAYS I F*CKED UP BY NOTTALKING ABOUT CONTENTSTRATEGY A LOT EARLIER 8
    8. 1998 9
    9. Information Designer/ Writer 10
    10. Information Designer/ WriterInformation ContentArchitecture Strategy 10
    11. 11
    12. 2004 13
    13. User Experience User Information ContentDirectors Research Architecture Strategy 14
    14. User Experience User Information ContentDirectors Research Architecture Strategy 14
    15. SELLING CONTENT STRATEGY 15
    16. DESIGN MANAGEMENT 16
    17. 17
    18. WHAT THE HELL ARE WEGOING TO DO? 18
    19. WHAT THE HELL ARE WE GOING TO DO?YOU’RE NOT SELLING CONTENTSTRATEGY.YOU’RE A PROBLEM SOLVER. 19
    20. WHAT THE HELL ARE WE GOING TO DO?YOU SPEAK THE LANGUAGE OFALL THE SEATS AT THE TABLE. 20
    21. “THE BUSINESS”UX CREATIVE TECH MKTG 21
    22. WHAT THE HELL ARE WE GOING TO DO?LIKE A SPAWNING SALMON,YOU PROPEL YOURSELFFURTHER UPSTREAM. 22
    23. 23
    24. THEN WE DO SOME STUFF 24
    25. THEN WE DO SOME STUFFYOU’RE CHANGING WORKHABITS. 25
    26. THEN WE DO SOME STUFFYOU’RE SELLING A PROCESS. 26
    27. THEN WE DO SOME STUFFYOU’RE SCOPING THE WORK. 27
    28. 28
    29. IF WE DO IT RIGHT, MONEY POPSOUT THE OTHER SIDE 29
    30. IF WE DO IT RIGHT, MONEY POPS OUT THE OTHER SIDEYOUR GOAL IS TO CREATEBUSINESS VALUE. 30
    31. IF WE DO IT RIGHT, MONEY POPS OUT THE OTHER SIDEBUSINESSES WANT TO MAKEMONEY. PERIOD. 31
    32. IF WE DO IT RIGHT, MONEY POPS OUT THE OTHER SIDEYOU’RE TALKING ABOUT ROI.(WHATEVER THAT MEANS.) 32
    33. TOOLS YOU CAN USE:_THE HARD SELL (LOGIC)_THE SOFT SELL (EMOTION) 33
    34. THE HARD SELLCOST ANALYSIS 34
    35. THE HARD SELLUSABILITY TESTING 35
    36. THE HARD SELLANALYTICS OR KPIs 36
    37. TOOLS YOU CAN USE:_THE HARD SELL (LOGIC)_THE SOFT SELL (EMOTION) 37
    38. THE SOFT SELLLUNCHTIME SESSIONS 39
    39. THE SOFT SELLMANAGE UP 40
    40. THE SOFT SELLBUILD A PUBLIC PROFILE 41
    41. CONTENT STRATEGY ISCHANGE MANAGEMENT 42
    42. Your contentproblem is hereYour contentperson is here 43
    43. 44
    44. competence likability Harvard Business School 45
    45. Dreamy Rockstarcompetence likability Harvard Business School 45
    46. Dreamy Rockstarcompetence Incompetent Jerk likability Harvard Business School 45
    47. Dreamy Competent Rockstar Jerkcompetence Incompetent Jerk likability Harvard Business School 45
    48. Dreamy Competent Rockstar Jerkcompetence Incompetent Lovable Fool Jerk likability Harvard Business School 45
    49. EVANGELIZING IT 46
    50. SELLING IT 47
    51. PROMOTING IT 48
    52. CHAMPIONING IT 49
    53. SPECIAL THANKS TO:Alex Faundez Ian AlexanderArienne Holland James CallanChris Hester Margaret BlackChris Moritz Rachel TorresClare O’Brien Rahel BailieDavid Farbey Soeren Kragh LindboHeather Wilson 50
    54. THANK YOU.@karenmcgranekaren@bondartscience.comwww.bondartscience.com+1 (917) 887-8149

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