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Live from OMS: How to Plan for, Create and Publish Online Content for Maximum ROI…

February 6, 2009

Posted live from the Online Marketing Summit for the Online Marketing for Marketers Blog.

Joe Pulizzi is the founder of Junta42.com and co-author of Get Content. Get Customers. Kristina Halvorson is the Founder and President of Brain Traffic. They met on Twitter when Kristina (@halvorson) tweeted “So, what’s the big deal about content?” And Joe (@juntajoe) quickly came to her rescue. Now, they’ve come together to talk about content and why it’s such a big deal.

Joe looks at marketing through the eyes of a publisher. His focus is the creation of good content, which he believes transcends the actual platform: the platform’s secondary to the content. You need good content on EVERY platform. And marketers need to become publishers in order to be effective… Marketers need to create content that doesn’t have an ounce of sales material in it. Repeat: stop talking about yourself; no one’s listening and no one cares. In the same space you can provide educational and engaging content that meets your readers’ (i.e. your prospect’s) needs. Seriously, take off your sales and marketing hats and think like a publisher.

A publisher’s only concern is giving the readers what they want. That’s what you need to concern yourself with as well as a marketer. What does this mean for the publishers out there? A lot! You’ve got all the resources to create new revenue streams. (And I think it’s safe to interject here that the old models are falling by the wayside, so hop to it.)

So, why does content matter?

  • It tells your story
  • It answers people’s questions
  • It inspires and entertains
  • It motivates
  • It drives decision-making
  • It manages expectations
  • It brings your brand to life
  • It builds-or breaks-trust

A few things to note about traditional media content:

  • The content is always about what the reader needs or wants, not about the company itself
  • This is where most marketers go wrong – they want to talk about their needs/their products/their services
  • But is should be all about your customer

Kristina is here to tell us about why content is so hard for marketers to get a handle on. (Sorry for ending my sentence with a preposition, all you grammar cops out there). First off, not enough attention is being paid to creating and overseeing the content, itself, which involves:

  • Sourcing
  • Copywriting
  • Editing
  • Proofreading

(This doesn’t even scrape the surface in terms of other forms of content such as video, etc.) And once people realize that they do need content, they put it down at the bottom in terms of importance. More weight is typically placed on templates, testing, interface design, information architecture and user experience. And while all of this is important, it’s nothing without content. Problems you’ll encounter when implementing a content strategy:

  • No one has time
  • No one wants to deal with the complexities
  • The writer is overwhelmed by requirements, scope, gaps and so on.
  • The people who didn’t care too much about the project at first come out of the woodwork with new demands (sound familiar?)
  • The people in charge of creating the website don’t have the tools to help you get your arms around the content.
  • No one has time to think about what happens to the content after it launches…which means the content quality has no oversight…which puts you right back at square one.

And there goes your schedule/budget/outcome… So we’ve identified the problem; what’s the solution? Start with a content strategy. Great! But what’s that?

  • It’s the process of planning for the creation of useful, usable content.
  • Not just WHAT you’re going to publish and WHERE, but WHY.
  • Content strategy isn’t just deciding what you’re going to include; it’s deciding what you’re going to leave out.
  • It can act as a benchmark for all content-related decisions
  • It offers real world context and drives data integration
  • It facilitates discussion between (and sign-off from) key stakeholders
  • Engages conent providers and reviewres early in the web project process
  • Identifies key themes and messages for web writers to use
  • Informs site information architecture
  • Drives metadata creation and assignment

Map content to real objectives and goals:

  • Your company’s key offerings
  • Website priorities
  • Business objectives
  • User goals
–> Plan strategically for required content, scope realistically, then scale according to time and budget.

Content Audit:

  • Possibly the most important thing you can do to avoid scope creep and minimize risk
  • Catalog web pages, print materials, all communications
  • Conduct a gap analysis

–> Don’t commit to content you can’t create or maintain Content specifications and creation

  • Get real world content specifications as early as possible
  • Identify who is responsible for providing, reviewing, and approving the content before writing begins
  • Train or hire web writers…it’s a very, very different process and medium from print. You can’t just hire a regular copywriter. And all you copywriters, you should be learning to write for the web!
  • Keep the content audit up-to-date to eliminate redundant workflows among various communicators

–> Ensure quality and quantity control, informed by clear recommendations and overseen by dedicated resources.

The End.

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