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Content Strategy Inspiration From Robert Rose

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How can you create remarkable content experiences and more scalable content processes? Over the last year, Robert Rose has been sharing exclusive insights in a weekly CMI newsletter, Content Strategy for Marketers. These conversations include current concepts that struck him as interesting; new ideas, big and small; near-term and long-range views of our industry; and more. Following are some of the discussion points you might find to be particularly helpful as you navigate the ins and outs of developing, implementing, and executing a successful content strategy. Use them as signposts to keep your efforts on track, or simply to inspire conversations on the role that content strategy should be playing in your own organization.

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Content Strategy Inspiration From Robert Rose

  1. 18 Content Strategy Inspirations From
  2. How can you create remarkable content experiences and more scalable content processes?   Over the last year, Robert Rose has been sharing exclusive insights in a weekly CMI newsletter, Content Strategy for Marketers. These conversations include current concepts that struck him as interesting; new ideas, big and small; near-term and long-range views of our industry; and more. Following are some of the discussion points you might find to be particularly helpful as you navigate the ins and outs of developing, implementing, and executing a successful content strategy. Use them as signposts to keep your efforts on track, or simply to inspire conversations on the role that content strategy should be playing in your own organization. To see these conversations — and others — in their entirety, download The Content Strategy Field Guide: Ideas From Robert Rose (http://cmi.media/fieldguide). And for a more immersive and instructional content strategy experience, don’t miss the Intelligent Content Conference 2016, March 7-9 in Las Vegas. Use the coupon code ROSE100 for $100 off the main event and all-access passes. 18 Content Strategy Inspirations From Robert Rose
  3. ON ENDURING THE CHAOS INHERENT IN DISRUPTION... Most managers are “Don Drapering” it, trying to move fast enough to get away from the chaos so that they don’t have to face the change — don’t have to move through the chaos. That is the road to a breakdown. Whether it’s your career, your business, or that quarterly strategy — we’ve got to learn to stop running and move through the chaos.
  4. ON OVERCOMING LEGACY THINKING... Not every content platform we stand up succeeds. And not every successful content platform succeeds forever. We often talk about our need to stand up new content platforms in an agile and flexible way. Heck, this is the promise of many web content management providers today. But just as important is our ability, when appropriate, to dismantle and disassemble those platforms and to recycle, reuse, and reintegrate important bits of that content back into the business. A scalable strategy — one that provides a sustainable competitive advantage — doesn’t always mean building and adding. It can mean unbuilding and subtracting, too. Removing things —like cats that have roamed the halls for too long.
  5. ON INCREASING THE VALUE OF CONTENT IN THE ORGANIZATION... At the heart of every effective content-driven marketing strategy is a mission to deliver differentiated experiences to a customer — experiences that are separate and distinct from those of the products or services offered. That means that every asset created builds value in its own right. This kind of content is an integrated, aligned, primary part of the strategy — subordinate to none. The more we content marketers think of ourselves as contributing directly (not secondarily) to corporate successes, the less likely we are to be seen as collateral-making machines — and the more likely our content is to be worth so much that it could be pledged as security for a loan.
  6. ON WHY BUSINESSES NEED TO CREATE CONTENT... Why is content so important to business? Here’s the real answer: Content is what we are. We often wander far and long for a business case for why content should be considered a precious asset to be managed and cared for as intelligently as possible. This is the answer. It is what we are. Content defines every experience we create for our customers — including our product or service. Thus, it cannot be a neutral part of any one experience. Content either enhances the experience or degrades it.
  7. ON BUILDING COHERENT CONTENT-DRIVEN EXPERIENCES... As marketers, when we create campaigns, by definition we build something to launch. The launch is the goal. But here’s what we don’t ask when we create a campaign: “What happens next?” Content development should be different. Content deliverables have more value when created as long-term strategic assets — i.e., products. Each product fits into a product line that has a coordinated life cycle. Whether we are developing one asset (a white paper, video, etc.) or an entire “story space,” we should develop a connected, consistent narrative that hangs together and builds a coherent, content-driven experience. We must ask, “What’s next?” in the planning stages; in other words, how will all these content-driven experiences connect in a holistic, sustainable way? Want your content program to succeed? Think beyond how the “show” opens. Think about how it keeps audiences leaning forward all the way through — and keeps them coming back for more.
  8. ON BUILDING AN EXPERIENCE FROM FINISH TO START... What if we figured out, in advance, the content-driven experience we were trying to build, and then worked backward to understand the major components that would make up that experience? And what if we then worked to strategically figure out when those “tent pole” pieces would be published, like release dates of a product? Then, what if we put those pieces through their compliance and regulatory paces — no rush? If we start with the end in mind, work backward, and create a long- term content strategy that we can stick to, we can put strategic pieces of content through whatever paces the business has in place to support risk management. We may even make things go faster. We certainly open up new opportunities to work toward something better. Backward may just be the new forward.
  9. ON MAKING CONTENT SCALABLE IN THE ENTERPRISE... If large enterprises are going to get their arms around a scalable content marketing effort, marketers are going to have to become more adept — mostly through partnerships with their content strategist counterparts — at structuring communications so that they can be reused, repurposed, and used intelligently. At the same time, businesses need to realize that, in the end, content technology doesn’t enable anything by itself. Ultimately, you can break down your content into ever smaller fields, structuring those fields so that even “unstructured marketers” understand what they should put in there. It’s not the fields that create the experience. It’s what goes in them.
  10. ON EVOLVING YOUR COMPANY’S CONTENT STRATEGY... To put together a content strategy that will scale, adapt, and meet the needs of consumers, we must understand that its efficacy is directly related to the strength of the business strategy it supports. A content strategy built around a siloed, non-integrated set of marketing strategies can be nothing but a laundry list of collateral pieces meant to serve each silo. In other words, adding a content strategy isn’t as simple as just nailing a smart content plan on top of antiquated marketing efforts. If a company wants to evolve its content strategy, it may need to evolve its marketing or business strategy first.
  11. ON BREAKING DOWN THE CONTENT SILOS... As content practitioners, there are a variety of situations you might find yourselves in. Perhaps you’re a technical writer looking for a home in the business, and marketing is increasingly looking like an appropriate place to apply for your skills. Or, you could be a content strategist charged with making content a scalable function within your organization. Or, you could even be a marketer who needs to look at the methods- and mechanics-madness of scaling your burgeoning content marketing program. The time to “re-architecture” is here, right now. And it is truly the point at which the technical, the content, and the story all come together. And, in case you are wondering, yes, it will take a team to manage this successfully.
  12. ON WHAT MAKES A CONTENT STRATEGY INTELLIGENT... The goal of content strategy is to explain how, strategically, content will interact with consumers and work as a strategic asset of the business. For example, when writing for multiple global audiences, the actual words that are chosen (the precision of language) can save (or cost) the company hundreds of thousands of dollars and can impact the value it will have as a strategic asset. It’s critical that organizations understand personas because the business must balance customer needs with efficient use of the asset. The business must know how content as a business asset will be applied to the company at large and make decisions that will govern the use of those assets. From there, they can start to think about how each specific decision will impact the organization most optimally. They have to actually publish, display, contextualize, personalize, and manage the continual flow of content through their business’s veins. That’s intelligent content strategy — it’s just as important as content strategy, but with a different focus.
  13. ON BALANCING CLARITY, RELEVANCE, AND SIMPLICITY... One of the keys to managing content intelligence is to focus on making things simpler, rather than more complex. When it comes to intelligent content, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the “personal” — i.e., exploring the differences in content, rather than the commonalities. So we should (as Einstein is believed to have said) focus on making things “as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Having a distinct point of view for your company is a great first step towards achieving the right level of clarity, relevance, and simplicity. It seems obvious, but so many companies try to be “everything to everyone,” that they dilute their content to the point where they end up being nothing to anyone. It’s so much easier to scale content when you start with what you want to say, rather than what you assume needs to be heard.
  14. ON REDUCING THE FEAR OF TAKING A STAND WITH CONTENT... As content marketing — including the development of differentiated, content-driven experiences — becomes a larger part of a business’ strategy, brands will have to create content that has a distinct point of view. This means that some brands will attempt to take on tougher, more difficult issues. Sometimes their efforts will be met with derision. But sometimes people will like what they do. Really like it. Every action we take reduces the risk of the next. It’s only through continued inaction that the risk of the first step increases. Even if we fail at it, that one action reduces the fear of the next. And one of those actions just might be the one that changes everything.
  15. ON THE HUMANITY IN THE MACHINE... Automation is great for increasing our efficiency. Algorithms can help us scale our efforts; to do things faster and lift more than we might be able to on our own. Technology can help us be all that we can be as humans. But it doesn’t help us to actually... be. At the heart of any good content strategy is the right mix of creativity and human judgment. This not only speaks to how we create content, but also how we decide where and when to apply our algorithms. Yes, there’s absolutely creativity and humanity in the design of the rules we apply to technology. At the end of it all, we are the algorithm.
  16. ON THE ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY IN CONTENT... The content technology landscape is likely to get a whole lot more confusing before it gets clearer. As you move through your career as a content marketer or content-strategy practitioner, how well do you need to know technology? The answer is: as well as possible. If you don’t, you better darn well have somebody you trust who’s paying attention. As Ferris Bueller says, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around for a while, you could miss it.”
  17. ON CREATING CONTENT DEMAND... From now on when people ask me how much content they should be producing, I’ve decided on a new answer: “As little as you can while still creating the impact you want to create.” It’s in this way that I think content strategy should be like golf. We should not aim to produce overwhelming amounts of content — even if we can be great at it. Rather, we should aim to produce just enough to deliver the value we intend; to create the change in behavior we are trying to effect. No more than that. Get through the course in as few swings as possible. Leave ‘em wanting more!
  18. ON MAKING A CASE FOR THE “RERUN”... Various things — the time, the context, or a million other things — can keep a valuable piece of content from finding success the first time around. Media companies don’t rerun shows because they are lazy. No, they do it because they’ve invested in an asset, and they understand that to get a return, they need to maximize that asset’s chances of becoming successful. As our marketing operations increasingly resemble media companies, we can learn from this model. The stories we create, the assets in which we invest, may find second and third lives through different channels, at different times, or in different contexts. And we can help them find that serendipity by not giving up on them. We can repeat them. We can re-promote them — and we can build on them by taking them to different formats.
  19. ON THE EVOLVING ROLE OF THOUGHT LEADERSHIP... As marketers, learning to teach rather than preach can be a tricky thing. We naturally want to talk about what we sell and why it’s an important part of your life. We don’t have the time or patience to teach you how to ride a bike so that one day you might buy our cool high-tech gear package. That’s years from now. We’re focused on, “How I can close you next month?” I would humbly posit that if we’re going to be thought leaders and think about our future, we have to be open to a wider approach. Our job is not to teach the ones who know; it’s to teach the ones who don’t know. Want to be a thought leader? Teach a new choir to sing.
  20. ON FINDING THE “EASY WAY” TO DO CONTENT MARKETING... Planning for and managing digital content is a multilayered discipline that needs to be worked at a company’s highest levels. Digital isn’t necessarily faster, cheaper, or more convenient. It’s not less strategic. It’s not a channel. There’s no “easy button.” We have to make more-strategic cases for content to be part of a business strategy. As I’ve been saying at my Master Classes these days, we’re not building a content strategy for business. We are building a business strategy for content. Our organizations’ C-suites need to understand that this takes time and investment. We have to change the well- embedded beliefs. Digital content isn’t a side project. It’s the project. We’re going to have go back to that old song by Ringo Starr: “I don’t ask for much — I only want your trust, and you know it don’t come easy.”
  21. To see these conversations — and others — in their entirety, download The Content Strategy Field Guide: Ideas From Robert Rose. And for a more immersive and instructional content strategy experience, don’t miss the Intelligent Content Conference 2016, March 7-9 in Las Vegas. Use the coupon code ROSE100 for $100 off the main event and all-access passes. Don’t miss future insights and inspiration from Robert Rose. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter: Content Strategy for Marketers. About Content Marketing Institute Content Marketing Institute is the leading global content marketing education and training organization, teaching enterprise brands how to attract and retain customers through compelling, multichannel storytelling. CMI’s Content Marketing World event, the world’s largest content marketing-focused event, is held every September in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, and the Intelligent Content Conference event is held every spring. CMI publishes the bimonthly Chief Content Officer magazine, and provides strategic consulting and content marketing research for some of the best-known brands in the world. CMI is a 2012-2015 Inc. 500/5000 company. Watch this video to learn more about CMI.

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