Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Content Strategy: How to make your content jump like Michael Jordan
During the content creation phase of working with clients, how many times have you heard these questions?
1. Do you think we should have a video made?
2. How do you feel about pictures?
3. Should we upload that brochure alongside our text content?
If you’re like me, and work as a content strategist and web writer, you are asked these questions—a lot. It makes sense—our jobs as content strategists are to define meaningful content and make sure our users can find and use it.
What is core content on a page?
Ted Leonsis, the owner of the Washington Capitals and Wizards, was on the radio today, discussing the future of both teams. When talking about tracking great championship NBA teams he commented:
“If you look at a majority of the teams that have won championships...they all were built around their high draft choices and they used free agency to compliment the Kobe Byrants, Michael Jordans, Tim Duncans."
The core content on a page is the Kobes, Michael and Tims--it's your high draft player that gets your results. Your core content needs to answer the questions users have when they engage. Defining those questions is incredibly important and often ignored by organizations, who use brochure-ware type websites as a way of communicating to their constituents. However, only if you answer these questions, can you make the sale; or in our terminology, make sure the call to action if fulfilled.
Understanding the traditional sales model
During a traditional sales call, the sales representative opens up the conversation with the potential buyer. “I have a product that will help you do this better, etc…” Online, and in new media, potential buyers have already started the conversation with you, just by virtue of the fact that they are engaging with your content! How you create your core content is dependent on who started the conversation, because of the one natural thing that always gets in the way of the sale.
Natural reluctance to fail
Most buyers don’t buy because they’ve had bad experiences in the past—the curling iron that didn’t curl, the youth moisturizer that didn’t fade wrinkles, the sneakers that didn’t make their jumps sky-high. The most important thing to address at the point-of-sale is natural reluctance. How do we do this? By making sure your core content addresses major concerns.
So, who are the free agents in content?
Look, I know very little about basketball, which is kind of pathetic because my dad was a basketball coach (He was in sales though, so at least I paid attention to something). But even though my bball skills may be lacking, I do know that complimentary content on a website is critical; it reinforces a user’s decision to purchase. When you are deciding what types of complimentary content to use, follow these guidelines:
Remember, people will only watch if your core content has answered their questions. If they are waffling about the sale, or still have further questions, they may watch a video to gather more information. Make sure the video addresses major issues up front and provides value by illustrating what textual content cannot. For example, a video of a sky dive may prompt a user to sign up for lessons more than a written description of a sky dive.
For some sites, like ecommerce sites, photos are the core content. I write mainly for the healthcare space, and photos help reinforce major messages within the core content, like doctor/patient relationships and the comfort and accessibility of hospital services. However, if the core content on the page doesn’t answer how long it will take to have surgery, or what recovery is like, the photos won’t reinforce the decision to call and make an appointment.
This depends on who wrote the brochure, when, and if it just repeats core content, or actually adds value. Think carefully when uploading a brochure in PDF, or other formats; it might make the most sense to adapt the content to a digital platform. One caveat: if the information on your site is takeaway, because the buying decision is made later, it makes sense to have some sort of printed takeaway for downloading.
Again, this can be core content for many sites. It can also be a landmine for other websites. Decide carefully where to make room for it, and make sure you watch carefully.
Any other forms of content you can’t decide about including? How do you determine your core content vs. your complimentary content? In the mood for a game of basketball? Let us know in the comments section; I’ve changed them so you don’t have to register a profile.