Live from CSForum: What’s your (business) problem?

What’s your (business) problem?: Selling content strategy into your organisation​, by Rahel Anne Bailie

If you’re not doing something for profit, it’s just a hobby. This is a main goal or businesses: to make money.

Speak their language:

  • People trust people in the know
  • Show them you understand the business goals
  • Use the vocab of the organization
  • Teach them the UX/CS language too

Show them the ROI connection

  • Ultimately, there must be business impact
  • Sit down with finance and run the numbers
  • Be prepared to defend your position

Connect business drivers to content actions!

Be clear and decisive: explain “what I can do for you.”

Have the right conversation with the right audience

  • Pitch to the right audience
  • Figure out who can authorize the work that needs to be done
  • Have the right conversation – use metaphors and examples the audience understands. Show them you’re listening.
  • Make your success, their success
  • Have a project, a budget, and clear governance

The thing about governance…

  • People rarely think about the complexity and coordination required for creating content
  • A governance plan helps structure who will do what, and how the pieces work together
  • It’s tricky – if you don’t get buy in from everyone who will need to work together, you’re dead in the water
  • Governance is about tracking what is already happening. Our job is to break it down and document
  • You need to be able to enforce what the team agrees on

Position the strategy for success:

  • Break strategy down into manageable pieces, so that it feels less overwhelming
  • Set up check in points
  • Get buy-in for each immediate piece, going back over time for next pieces
  • Find the quick wins; they make things more tangible. Then connect those wins to next steps.

Avoid blockers

  • Governasties ruin governance plans.
  • Technologists get blinded by thinking about what they can do, rather than what can be done.
  • Controllers try to block you because they’re gatekeepers/alpha people who need to win.

Get them on your side. Show them how this works. Let them feel listened to, and connect it to what they want/need.

In short:

  • Do your research – gather all the facts, and listen to the symptoms
  • Be confident in your presentation – they’ll know if you’re nervous, and they won’t have confidence in you
  • Be generous with coaching – prepare to teach and help anyone who wants to learn

Recommended reading:

  • Content Strategy, Rahel Anne Bailie & Noz Urbina
  • Enterprise Content Strategy: A Project Guide, Kevin Nichols
  • Content Strategy for the Web, Kristina Halvorson & Melissa Rach
  • Managing Chaos, Lisa Welchman


Marli Mesibov

Marli is a content strategist with a passion for the user experience. Her work spans websites, web applications, and mobile. Marli is the VP of Content Strategy at the UX design agency Mad*Pow, where she helps healthcare, finance, and educational organizations communicate with their audiences. Marli is a frequent conference speaker, and has spoken at conferences including Content Strategy Forum and LavaCon. She can also be found on Twitter, where she shares thoughts on content strategy, literature, and Muppets.

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