What does your content say about your organization?
This is a question I posed to a CMO in Europe. I had been speaking at an event and had used a slide that I often use these days. It says, “Content is what we are.” If you attended the Intelligent Content Conference last year – an event that I hope you’ll attend this year – you may have seen this slide.
Our discussion centered on whether content is simply an attribute of what everybody in the company does – something completely decentralized and unmanaged – or whether some common, strategic elements should be standardized across the enterprise. He said, “This whole enterprise-wide strategy thing seems overblown. It can’t make sense for every company.”
I told him he was right. It doesn’t make sense for every company. It makes sense only for companies committed to doing it right.
I told him that any content strategy that looks to go beyond simple corporate communications, straightforward technical/help documentation, or trendy, heavily positioned advertising has to have three core elements:
- A distinct point of view. If the business (not just the employee writing it) isn’t willing to take a distinct and pointed view with every piece of content, then why not just point to other material? I say “distinct” as opposed to “unique” because “unique” suggests that no other business can have the same point of view. Rather, I prefer the definition of distinct: “recognizably different in nature from something else of similar type.”
- The willingness to communicate that distinct point of view with consistent authority. This is the hard part. If the business (again, not the writer) isn’t willing to commit to that point of view, then why bother? Many white papers start out brilliantly distinctive before they go through the corporate-review wash cycle, only to come out as uninteresting corporate garble.
- The evolving capability to deliver that distinct point of view through every customer experience. This capability lies at the heart of a great content strategy. If the only place the distinct point of view comes through is in some darkened, private community that only some small percentage of long-term customers has access to, it’s a wasted effort. Certainly, it’s a start. But this is when the second law of thermodynamics kicks in: If the content isn’t evolving, it’s decaying.
If the business isn’t willing to make this commitment, then creating an enterprise-wide content strategy is pointless. In fact, creating content in any enterprise manner doesn’t make sense. And any CEO, CMO, or CFO that admitted as much would get the same answer from me: Please stop polluting the Internet with your banal digital waste. And stop squandering your employees’ time by having people create interesting, distinctive content that will get whitewashed.
So that CFO was right. An enterprise-wide content strategy doesn’t make sense for every company. It makes sense only for companies that want their content to say something interesting about them.
All other companies might as well quit creating the stuff. Today. The Internet will thank you.