Houston, We Have A Problem!

…And without budget, buy-in, and a plan for success there will always be a problem.

Recently, I was named communications chief for an ERG (Employee Resource Group). Last week, we had meeting of the ERG leadership group to discuss goals. Membership engagement and membership growth are the two big ones we decided on. As comms chief, content marketing and content strategy will play in a big role in meeting those goals.

So, I searched for existing content on the employee intranet. I didn’t find much – the content was outdated, missing and didn’t contain any useful information about the ERG. The previous comms chief migrated some content to Sharepoint and Microsoft Teams. I logged on to Microsoft 365 and searched for the ERG content. Again, the content was outdated and missing. I specifically looked for my ERG group’s page and I couldn’t find it. Eventually, I did. The content was strong, well organized and useful. Just took three days to find it. 

I had a meeting later in the week with all the comms chairs and it was a similar story. I learned that the ERGs at my office are part of a much larger global diversity and inclusion corporate initiative. And we recently migrated new information architecture. 

The comms chiefs identified the problem and what’s wrong with the content. According to Meghan Casey in the book “This Content Strategy Toolkit,” that is the first step. Content is a mess, we are migrating to a new content management system (CMS), and the content could and should better meet the needs of the organization. Specifically, as Casey pointed out, there is bad content, content isn’t readable, visitors can’t find anything. Casey, Meghan. “The Content Strategy Toolkit.” Newriders. 2015.  Page 6-7.

Assuming we did a content audit, analytics review and user testing and the data backed up our hypothesis, the next step would be budgeting and buy-in. Without budgeting and buy-in, there isn’t a project to prepare for success.

As Casey writes, next is making the business case for the time and resources. And the case must be presented in terms of return of investment (ROI) and risk and reward. What are the missed opportunities, risks and non-monetary costs? Casey also notes “that change is difficult, decision makers need to support that change upfront.” Casey, Meghan. “The Content Strategy Toolkit.” Newriders. 2015.  Page 15-16. 

Casey lists several components for making a successful agreement. Salesforce also has good resources to guide one through the process.  Tiffani Bova writes for Salesforce and says, “An effective sales pitch should be a two-way street — adding value for both parties. It’s an opportunity for sellers to learn more about the customers pain points, requirements, and expectations, and of course an opportunity for prospects to get the answers they couldn’t find from an online search…Effective sales pitches require upfront work.” Bova, Tiffani. How to Make a Good Sales Pitch: 8 Tips to Give You an Edge. Salesforce. June 27, 2019. 

Getting a budget and buy-in does require a good, researched, thoughtful pitch.

Sales pitch tips infographic

Via salesforce

After getting resources approved and buy-in, the next step according to Casey is to get the right stakeholders involved and get them aligned on what the project should achieve, why you need their help, setting expectations about what you need and when. The key is managing the project efficiently while keeping everyone informed and engaged.  Casey, Meghan. “The Content Strategy Toolkit.” Newriders. 2015.  Page 25. 

Lynn Winter wrote for Pantheon a guide to prepare your client for a strategy plan. She writes of its importance, “Content and its creation has become a big challenge for project managers, causing endless delays and budget overages. So, what do you do about it? Besides having a kick-ass content strategy plan, I think it’s critical to get the start of the project right. I recommend holding a pre-kickoff meeting with the client’s project manager and key content stakeholder to cover specific items. While every project is unique, there are five topics I would suggest tackling in that meeting.” Winter, Lynn. How to Prepare Your Client for a Content Strategy Plan. Pantheon. September 26, 2017. 

Her tips include:

Identify the Content Team

Establish a Content Budget

Understand the Process

Choose Testing Options

Comfort Team

Winter concludes with “Preparation doesn’t guarantee to solve the content problem but it will give you a fighting chance. Then we can move on to worrying about the next thing that will kill our budgets and timelines.”

Bottom Line: Without buy-in and budget, there isn’t a project or solution.

Note: Featured image built with Canva.

Published by Miriam Greenfield

I have more than 20 years of experience creating, writing and producing compelling feature stories and documentaries for television and digital media. I am a 4-time National Sports Emmy award winner with more than 30 nominations.

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