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Get the content strategy you want by tying your work to the things that matter to business, savvy metrics, intentional stakeholder management, and maximizing the capacity of the kindred spirits around you. Presented at LavaCon 2013.
Driving Enterprise Content Strategy
(with only guerilla staff)
22 October 2013
@ak_riley @LavaCon©2013 IBM. All rights reserved.
—Ideation (ideas, connections!)
—Input (variety, complexity!)
� Technical communicator since 1995, doing stuff like:
—Content metrics—the business value of content
—Information architecture (I organize my closets for fun)
—Interaction design for content delivery
—Usability, analysis to validation
—Scenario-driven information architecture
� Senior Content Strategist on IBM’s corporate Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) team in the IBM CIO organization
� Columnist (with Andrea Ames) for The Strategic IA in STC’s Intercommagazine
Just so you can’t say I didn’t warn you
Most of this presentation is going to be about:
2. Stakeholder management
Try not to be disappointed, OK?
You can stop listening after this chart, if you want.
If you want to do content strategy:
— You must adopt this mindset:
� “Nice to have” is dead
� If it's not business-critical, no one will care
� If no one cares, no one will support (read: fund) you
— You must prove these things:
� Your work addresses critical business issues
� Content has strategic business value
— You must start small but think big:
� Maximize what you have
� Build a conspiracy of competency
� Adopt a community-driven model
� Demonstrate value in crawl―walk―run increments
Your mindset:Search out problems & opportunities
� Look for the “Why?” behind the strategy
— Change, challenge, or opportunity in the marketplace?
— Innovation in the IT landscape?
— Trend or sea-change in financial realities or global dynamics?
� Why � what matters
— Strategic priorities vs. point-in-time tactics
— Investment vs. legacy
— Revenue generation vs. cost center
� Use systems thinking skills to find opportunities to add value
— Contribute to market plays, innovation, or customer requirements
— Contribute to the priorities of the enterprise, business unit, or product
— Prove that your results are something that customers want
— Prove that your strategy supports business strategy
Figuring out what matters:
Take a system-level look at the problem space
A generalized view of IBM’s product lifecycle
Take a system-level look at your “users”
A layered view of “the client”
Are you thinking aboutyour clients and their needs
Take a system-level look at product performance
Take a system-level look at content performance
(another way of saying what the previous chart said)
See all this?Yeah, content makes this happen.
How effective is your content?How do you know?
Graphic lifted from Aiden Creative Digital Marketing Agency
Content drives stuff that matters to business.
Analyze the system to find business problems and opportunities.
Make your case for what you want to accomplish,built around critical problems and opportunities.
And get ready to prove it.
Proving value:A framework for telling the right story
…implement content strategy.
— We need them.
— Many kinds of content people will help implement an enterprise content strategy.
— Content people tend to reflect the values of where they live in the enterprise. Even “kindred spirits” can have widely different goals and metrics.
— Identify common ground by speaking to what matters most to these people and reflects their worldview.
…fund us (or not).
— We must stop trying to “educate them” and start speaking their language.
— We speak their language by proving value using business metrics that matter in the marketplace.
— Unless we can make a direct connection between our content work and metrics that drive business, we will fail.
Who are we speaking to when we talk about this stuff?
� Site visitors
� Page hits
� Visitor location
� Most popular pages
� Least popular pages
� Bounce rate
� Time spent on page
� Search terms
We content people need to tell a better story
� Become a story-teller
—Define the right vision
—Tell a compelling story that inspires people to buy in to your vision.
� Evolve from good stories to best stories
—What makes a story true? Facts—things you can prove.
—What makes a story compelling? It speaks to what matters most.
—What matters most? Depends on your audience. Duh, right?
� Prove value with the right metrics
—Value is in the eye of the beholder—know your beholders.
—Use metrics that target actual decision-makers.
—Figure out what your actual decision-makers value—their metrics for success.
—Cold hard truth: Your actual decision-makers are probably business people—executives and others who hold the purse-strings.
Sell your story to a business audience
Cost per lead
Return on investment (ROI)
Time to value
Most popular pages
Least popular pages
Time spent on page
The metrics we use to create good content strategy do not resonate with most outside our discipline:
You need a content strategist’s intuition to know how content supports business goals. Most business people don’t have that intuition.
“Page hits”resonates with
“Sales leads”resonates with
But don’t neglect that content audience
� Where do their goals align with yours? build bridges!
� Where do their goals conflict with yours? build business cases!
� When you need to build a business case, use metrics to:
— Show problems and opportunities that content people care about
— Bind your work to their highest priorities and goals for content
— Reveal a clear and achievable pathway away from their current goals and toward new goals that would increase their value
Bridge the worlds of business and content
� Tie content metrics to the metrics that make a difference in themarket
� Do the hard work: Research how content influences the metrics that are most important to the specific people you need for success.
� A simple starting point:
direct link to mindshare
How does content shape clients’perceptions of your company?
direct link to ROI
How does content influence customer satisfaction?
direct link to customer loyalty
How does content impact product quality?
direct link to the revenue stream
How does content drive purchase decisions?
direct link to customer value
How does content speed client success and time-to-value?
Metrics mapping: A simple example
� Technical documentation team
� Developers who publish whitepapers and case studies
� Product community forum team
� Web support team� Call center team
� Sales enablement� Education & training� Beta programs
� Web team� Social team
� Event team
� Dev cost� Market share� Lines of code
� Compliance� Quality and test
� Call volume � Call length � Customer sat.
� Ticket deflection
� Viable leads� Sales growth� Product
� ROI� Cost per lead
� Campaign performance
� Conversion metrics
� Lines of text, number of pages, etc.� Cost per unit produced� Web traffic
� Number of forum participants� Sentiment analysis
� Amount of web information produced
� Volume of calls reduced� Time-to-resolution reduced
� Cost per unit produced
� Proofs of Concept (PoCs) to sale� Number of classes� Beta program participants
� Web traffic� Click-throughs� Likes and shares
� Conversions� Collateral distributed
Set business-savvy, metrics-driven content goals
Create high quality, highly usable content delivered in an elegant information experience.
� Sentiment—nature and tone of social dialogue, etc.
� Direct feedback
Perceptions of company
Create high value content that speeds customer time to success.
� Web traffic� Direct feedback� Ratings� Shares (social)
Contribute to product quality through by simplifying the amount of content in the user experience.
� Reach—visits, etc.� Engagement—referrals, etc.
Contribute to revenue stream through referrals from technical content that become sales leads.
Example content goals
Example content metrics
Telling a better story: An IBM example
Shameless ad:See the May issue of STC’s Intercom for my article on proving the business value of content
(co-authored with Andrea Ames & Eileen Jones)
� We’re learning to tell a better story for a business audience
� We conducted a survey with clients and prospective clients—here’s the data:
Metrics—the best weapon in your arsenal
� Metrics have gotten a bad rap
— Numbers can be hard for word people
— The right numbers are hard for everyone
— Getting metrics to work for you requires a significant shift in thinking
� Rethink metrics
— Metrics are like audience analysis (who cares about what?)
— Metrics are like usability testing (what works for whom?)
� Embrace metrics
— Metrics get you what you want
— Metrics ensure you want the right things
— Metrics transform opinion into fact
— Metrics remove emotion from analysis
� Strategize with metrics at every phase
— Beginning: identify opportunity, prove the strategy is right
— Middle: show incremental progress, course-correct
— End: prove value and earn investment for the future
EthosYour authority, credibility, professionalism, and authenticity
PathosEmotional appeal, vivid imagery, creative envisioning, imagining
LogosLogic, data, clarity, evidence—either inductive (bottom-up) or deductive (top-down) reasoning
The sell: Tell a compelling story for each audience
Use metrics to:
� Speak to the analytical mind
� Tell the “black and white” part of your strategy
� Articulate facts that prove that your strategy is a good one
Use vision to:
� Speak to the heart
� Inspire people to believe
� Craft a narrative that resonates and lingers long after you’ve left the room
Use expert communication to:
� Prove that you own the space
� Provide powerful evidence that you are worthy of trust and investment
� Build a network of influencers
Think big, start small:Organize for success
Maximize an asset you already have: Stakeholders
� Whose agendas do you need to understand to be successful?
— Which influencers can help you? What are their agendas?
— Which influencers could block you? What are their agendas?
— How can you help your influencers be successful?
— How can you map your success to business priorities and metrics?
� Manage your stakeholders intentionally:
— Their top concerns
— Their metrics
— The level of support you desire from them
— What role they play (or you’d like them to play) in your work
— The actions that you want them to take (and their priority)
— The messages that you need to craft for them to enable the outcome you want
Free stakeholder management worksheet here: http://bit.ly/8UnUdj
“Stakeholder management is critical to the success of every
project in every organization … By engaging the right
people in the right way in your project, you can make a big difference
to its success...and to your career.”
—Rachel ThompsonStakeholder Management: Planning
Stakeholder Communication. MindTools. Web. 12 April 2013.
Note: Maneuvering people is not necessarily evil
� To make content strategy happen, you have to master politics
� Think of it as a game—moving pieces on a board
— You can’t touch the pieces directly to move them where you want
— You have to inspire them to move
— You inspire them by figuring out what they care about and helping them succeed
� It doesn’t have to be an evil game
— Look for win-win alliances and opportunities
— Discover and play to people’s strengths
— Don’t get bogged down by pieces on the board that refuse to move—looks for paths around them
— Enjoy the wins—be sure to share the rewards
— Learn from the losses—keep your eye on the end game on not on emotional setbacks
“In the moment when
I truly understand my enemy, understand
him well enough to defeat him, then in that
very moment I also love
—Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
Build a “conspiracy of the competent”
� Search out kindred spirits who get it
� Connect with influencers who demonstrate:
— Systems thinking
— Excellence in results
— Work ethic (doers, not just talkers)
— Sophistication in playing the game
— Strengths that shore up your weaknesses
� Drive a conspiracy of guerilla warriors:
— Strategize together
— Work around the pawns, sheep, and fools together
— Complete missions together
— Celebrate wins and learn from losses together
Adopt a community-driven framework
business unit sponsors
competent content thought leaders
from each domain
content teams from each domain
Network of supportive allies
Your starting point might look more like this…
competent thought leaderssome random
kindred spirits you met along the way
That’s OK.Just start. Start somewhere.
If you build it (right), they will come.
Community-based model: Getting started
� Define the common problem
— What hurts?
— What are our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT)?
� Define the common vision
— Where are we going?
— What will it look like when we arrive?
� Define common priorities
— What matters most?
— What common metrics unite us?
� Define success
— Which metrics will we be measured against?
— Which metrics accurately assess the tomorrow-state?
Demonstrate value: Crawl—Walk—Run
� Crawl: Small, measurable projects
— Build relationships and trust
— Demonstrate value
— Measure incremental progress
� Walk: Bigger scope, more sophisticated work
— Build on lessons learned
— Leverage the key contributors
— Grow your network
� Run: End game
— Define enough of the end game vision at project outset to inspire the previous phases
— Don’t worry too much about this phase until you have learned what you need to learn—not everything needs to be defined in order to act!
� Communicate constantly—up, down, across
— Take interim measurements
— Maintain sponsor and stakeholder enthusiasm
— Course-correct as needed
“Boil notthe ocean.”
—Some wise person, like Gandhi or Chuck
Norris or Bon Jovi
Don’t do it like this:4 stories from the trenches
Story 1:In which I fail to use metrics intelligently
What I did
What I should’ve done
What I saw
What I should’ve seen
A content producer working on a certain type of content is troublesome:
� Doesn’t get the big picture
� Doesn’t get content
� Is belligerent
� Is territorial and siloed
� About content quality—redundancy, inconsistency
� About an elegant user experience
Her success is measured differently than my success!
� Her success metrics: increase volume of content; promote strong brand identity for her team
� My success metrics: simplify the information experience; deliver a “one IBM” information experience
What’s behind her metrics? Find a way to map my metrics to hers and evolve her vision:
� Increase volume of content �Increase impact of content (reuse internally; visibility externally)
� Promote strong brand identity for her team � Prove team value
Story 2:In which I fail to manage a problem personality
A writer on a “legacy” product wanted to keep writing books forever:
� Doesn’t understand value of modular content
� Doesn’t value reuse
� Doesn’t get DITA
Got frustrated—argued, yet again!
� Internal efficiency metrics
� External experience metrics
� Industry trends
� Of failure with the new technology
� Of losing her eminence and position as subject matter expert within her organization
� Of losing her job
Give her a path to future security that resonates with her values:
� We have these problems—current approaches don’t solve them!
� We need a solution or we all fail� I need your help� You’re a thought leader� We can’t do this without you
Start together on a small project to demonstrate value and earn trust.
Story 3:In which I think “of course we should do this”
This is an obvious solution to an obvious problem. We must do this. And we are a happy family:
� Same company
� Same vision
� Same goals
Kept agendas and minutes.
Wondered why I was the one doing all the work.
The problem wasn’t obvious.
The solution wasn’t obvious.
The team was giving me lip service.
The team wasn’t a team.
The sponsors weren’t engaged.
Test the shared-ness of the vision:
� Collaborate on a plan and formalize buy-in (will you put your money where your mouth is?)
� Disseminate responsibility (will you stand up and own this?)
� Communicate progress & impact
Story 4:In which I am too abstract
A team of content people from different business units who each:
� See big picture
� Think abstractly
� Use models
Kept trying to explain (read: forged ahead blindly, not realizing that anything was wrong). But…
� Noted lack of progress
� Watched participation plummet
� Felt awkward
Meeting conversations were weird:
� I spent too much time explaining
� The content people discussed our purpose and work in ways that didn’t make sense.
Sponsors didn’t see the work:
� The team wasn’t socializing it
� Realize that few people can start at the abstract level.
� Find a small, measurable, concrete project to work on. Work together = learn together.
� Generate team results—then work together to abstract out the key findings.
And that’s all she wrote. Any questions?
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