My first meeting for the CS project went in a rapid fire mode
For the first time, I was meeting a content strategy project stakeholder for our first meeting, in person. All my CS projects so far have kicked off online and since this new contract is not mature yet, I will keep the identities anonymous.
[A] is the marketing head of the organization who are looking for rebranding all their digital experience. He finds me on LinkedIn and told me that they need a content strategist for all the content that they publish or need — for digital or print, at present or in future.
They are into manufacturing agricultural machines and tools—and their customers are in breweries, flour mills, rice mills, feed mills, oil mills, and in horticulture industry. I had seen the current website and the brochure, and I knew where to get started in the meeting.
[A] was happy to welcome me in their office. We started with a pause and as we were waiting for their director, I started with the important questions.
“Why are you rebranding? What will happen to your business if you do not rebrand now?”
“Ok, I want to know how critical this rebranding is for your business.”
[A]: We are doing reasonably well for our targets in sales. But, there is bit of a stagnation— we need to reset our sales targets for bigger goals. So, we have hired a design agency to redesign our website, and we have hired another agency for our print documents — brochures and literature. [Ominous signs of ‘design before content’ trap.]
“Who makes design decisions in your organization?”
[A]: Me, as the marketing head here. The organization relies purely on the two agencies that we have hired. I am the only one who collaborates with them for their questions, or for approvals by my own, or from the board members. [The marketing head takes the design calls.]
“How do you think you are qualified or aware enough to make design decisions? Who validates or evaluates what you decide — whether your contribution will help the organization?”
[A]: Well, I had proposed in the past to hire an in-house designer for our website, and artwork but the case was not strong enough. I just use my judgement and experience and understanding from the market (competitors, and otherwise) for the kind of design we may need. I can see that our content is a bit too technical and it does not talk about value proposition. Right now, there are no defined ways where somebody validates my proposals or suggestions. [Nobody invests in ‘why this design’ or ‘why this experience’.]
“How did you prepare your case? What was the winning areas in the proposal?”
[A]: I had some data. And I proposed that hiring a designer means the individual (or eventually a team) can really understand our culture, processes, production, to craft what we need.
“Who resists what you propose? Why?”
[A]: Most of the resistance happens for content. For example, the technical specifications of a machine are reviewed and corrected by the Machines Head (one who oversees all machines, production, and operations). I simply go with their review comments. Likewise when we talk about product story or organization history, we go by what the management wants to share. [Siloed.]
For design, it is more of a change management challenge. [The story is missing in the proposals.]
“When a product description changes, how do you change it across channels — on website, and for print?”
[A]: I just update the content manually. For website, I call the website support team to make content changes. For print, I call the printing agency. Likewise for newsletters and elsewhere. [Chasing trouble and then running away when it chases back.]
“How do you ensure that the content updates are consistent — for voice and tone, for terminology, and for the message that the organization wants to communicate?”
[A]: We do not have a process for that. Most of such content decisions are taken on the go — I just use my judgment and my own manual processes for such cases.
“How do you measure whether content is working for you?”
[A]: Well, I track the conversions, such as at our product catalog pages at Indiamart. For our website, we see people calling us at our sales phone numbers mentioned there and we are converting them at xxxx percent. [As long as sales goals are being met, who cares for content goals.]
“How can you say that this xxxx percent conversions are because of the content (combined with the user experience, right CTA, right findability)? For example, your reputation and word-of-mouth by your current customers may be playing a role here, or your facebook campaign may be converting. Right?”
[A]: May be. I am not sure — we never had a process to track content ROI.
If I am hired for the project, who are the people likely to be involved in the project, and why?
- The website design agency (external)
- The printing agency (external)
- Our director (of course)
- The Machine Head (who takes care of all technical specifications and so he contributes to the technical content)
We all need to work together to plan the right content in right branding.
“What do you think is the primary goal of this rebranding project? For example, do you think that the new printed brochures should be the primary lead generation magnets (such as at industry events), or the digital campaigns will be the key (email marketing, social, contests or surveys)?”
[A]: We need to channelize every rebranded asset collectively.
[There were signs of a change management wrap around.]
We had tea.
We both enjoyed the pace of discussion and I wonder whether the director was waiting for our discussion to be over or we were waiting for the director.
I was happy that I asked these questions from [A] because by now I realized that the director could not have made me see the mess so clearly.
Within minutes, the director invited us and [A] shared a recap of our conversation.
The processes were in a spiral mess but the awareness for what they wanted to do was a silver lining. By now, I was excited at the opportunity. If not for the project but for the food for thought that I could give to the teams there. Hope to share my experience in another post some day.