As much as you might want a content strategist to come fix things, your team may not love having the content strategist there. The reason is that many of us struggle to hear that we need to change. We hear “this needs to change” as “what you’re doing is wrong”. Or “your hard work isn’t good enough”. Sure, we can all agree that our team is struggling. Something definitely isn’t working. Yet we struggle to confront it.
It all comes down to how you kickoff the project.
Kickoff a Content Strategy Project
How do you kickoff a content strategy project and ensure success? Try these four steps:
- Plan to collaborate
- Build good working relationships
- Develop useful workflows
- Come in ready to compromise
Plan to Collaborate
One problem teams have with content strategists is that the strategist is seen as an outsider. If you come in with a plan to collaborate and learn from the team, you’re a step ahead. This works whether you’re an in-house content strategist or from an outside agency. You become part of the team when you learn from them.
Plus, if you ask the team’s opinion early on, you can reference what they said later. It will work as as the rationale for making changes.
Build Good Working Relationships
The hardest part of a project is the kickoff. When you kickoff a content strategy project poorly, the whole project feels stacked against you. And sometimes it is – you need your team to support what you’re doing. You can do this in a few ways:
- Compliment the team on what they are already doing well
- Reference the research. Make it clear that you’re working off the same information as the rest of the team.
- Refer to work as its own entity. For example, “John did a great job. The strategy needs to be improved, to better support him.”
- Explain how we can get from good to great. This is more useful than talking about what’s bad and needs to be better.
- Reassure the team that they are up against real problems. It’s normal to not have some of the answers.
Develop Useful Workflows
Another struggle is the perception that you (the content strategist) are bringing in unnecessary changes. The best way to counteract that is to create useful, usable workflows. Consider what the team needs, and how you can benefit them. Build workflows that support what the team is already doing. Use it as a way to offer additional value, and not to put your own spin on their process.
Come in Ready to Compromise
Lastly, if you want to be seen as a partner, be a partner. Plan on compromising. Plan on learning and building and then having to take a step backward.
The more flexible you are, the more you’ll be able to adapt the process for your team. You’ll win their trust, and be ready to take on the rest of the project.