July 25-27, 2018 / Vancouver, BC

Stop & Think: Strategy for Smart Content Decisions - Meghan Casey

August 11, 2016

Speaker - Meghan Casey

Content strategy is about providing the right content, to the right people, at the right times, and for the right reasons. Whether we call ourselves content strategists or not, a core strategy can help us make better choices. The end result is more time and money spent on the right things that get the right results, and less time and money wasted on proliferating a content wasteland.

In this session, we'll walk through the components of a core content strategy statement and use one to make content decisions. Then, we'll wrap with tools you can use to put content strategy to work in your practice or in your organization. You'll get a chance to share your tips and tools, too.

Transcription coming soon

Hello. Great talks so far. I’m a little nervous, I’m going to say, about following some of the awesomeness that we’ve had so far this morning. So for my own benefit and your own we’re going to start things off with a couple of affirmations. So please repeat after me:

“I’m doing the best I can.”

AUDIENCE: I’m doing the best I can.

Very nice. “No one is stupid on purpose.”

AUDIENCE: No one is stupid on purpose.

All of your clients, all of your coworkers, they do stupid things sometimes, I do stupid things sometimes. Most of the time we’re not doing it on purpose. We just don’t know anything. And finally, “It’s only the internet.”

AUDIENCE: “It’s only the internet.”

Sara brought up some really great points that in most cases we’re not going to lead to anyone’s death or demise with the work that we do. Every once in awhile, though, that can become the case.

Alright, so now that we’re feeling pretty good and we’ve gone through these affirmations, let’s start with some real truth here, and that’s that you’re — and I’ll just note here that I’m talking mostly about websites and a kind of digital content here, not as much about apps and those types of things, even though I know a lot of us work on those kinds of things, but that’s more of the framework that makes my talk about stopping to think before we do some of the things we do, kind of makes it easy to hang something around it, so yes, your website is probably broken and Johnny Appleseed did not say that. I had to switch my template and I missed that in my slides.

Maybe he did say that, I don’t know. He might have.

So let’s look at some broken websites. Here is one and it’s just a wall of copy, and have you ever gotten to a page like this and read every word? Probably not. The other interesting thing here is these things in green, that are like, oh, that must be the most important information on this page. Nope, it really wasn’t. So no one’s going to read that wall of copy and if you’re going to use design as a way to, you know, bring the content to life, actually use those elements for the content that’s important.

Not just random sentences.

So, yeah, no one’s going to read that.

This is another higher ed site and this is one I looked at it and I read and just thought, self-congratulatory much? Like it’s all like we are this, we are this, we are awesome, nothing about why any of you should care about how awesome we are.

Here this was a financial services company that I actually went back to look for this example to get a different screenshot, and I think they went out of business because this card was actually maybe breaking some rules in the finance institution, but anyway, the main thing I wanted to get at here on this page is the help center, and this is where the only place on the website you can get to their blog, is from the help center. So I’m guessing all of the content on their blog has never been viewed by anybody, because who would ever look here? So sorry, don’t think that’s how they’re going to get there. But I did. I got to their blog, and then I thought, who is this blog for? It’s got top three benefits of a card, but then it’s like how many hours did employees donate? And some culture stuff and a few like how to spend money types of things, but I had no idea who this audience was, and so really it was just let’s create content and some random things so we can check a blog post off our list for the month.

And this one. This one happened probably because somebody was mad that their topic wasn’t on the home page, so they thought, well, if we just list every single topic of every single thing we talk about on the site, then my stuff will be visible or perhaps their search was way broken so they felt like they needed to have an index like this that has things like metabolic screening program, newborns, mold information. I do not know what’s happening on this site.

[5:00]

So here’s one that uses an index-like structure and sometimes that can be good. I told you, I love this one. Because it’s really based on user tasks, what people are coming to the website for, so here’s a good example of something that’s not broken. It actually does — it is a really great site.

Here so in this site it’s all about how to deal, if your family member has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, how you can get your finances in order to take care of them. But when you look at this edge pa, what looks like the most important information? I don’t know how well you can see that. That thing in the box which is signing up for their newsletters.

Yeah, sorry, that’s not the most important information on that page and there’s great content on that page and no one really, really saw it, because all they saw was the newsletter signup.

So your website is probably broken. It might not be for the reasons you think. We often look at these things and we have content problems, but they’re really symptoms of some other types of problems. So one is raise your hand or just nod along if you’ve ever felt like we’re just creating more and more content but for no real good reason. We don’t know why, just more content, not necessarily the right content. I can’t really see up here, but I’m guessing some heads nodded.

What about we spend entire meetings arguing about who gets a spot on the home page? Yes, OK, groans everywhere.

Or we know our content isn’t working but we just can’t slow down enough to figure out why, to take that data and turn it into insights. Jon, I loved your presentation. So thank you.

Or we often chase after that next big bright shiny thing, because it’s that. But we don’t really have a good reason for it. Anybody?

I’m going to share a quick example this b because I had a phone call where we were handing off a content strategy project to the people that were going to be building the website and we were talking about, you know, what content ideas might make sense and I really cautioned them as I heard the bright shiny thing happening, you know, let’s make sure that if you do chase after the next bright shiny thing, it really makes sense for your brand and for the business, and the agency who we handed it off to, said, well, Meghan, I mean, what’s the big deal? If we do do that and it’s not really that valuable? Like, what’s the risk to that? And I was like, wasting your client’s money? I mean I actually said that and they just were like, oh, is that all?

And that really made me mad and I can’t believe it didn’t make the client mad, but they didn’t seem to be too mad.

No one’s in charge. No one has any decisionmaking power to say what goes and doesn’t go with content. Or almost worse: Everybody thinks they’re in charge.

So everybody wants to be the boss of everything, and thinks that their content is most important, and that they’re the ones that get to make the decisions. So in this room, I’m guessing between being internal practitioners or agency folks who’ve dealt with a combination of these things, and lots of other things.

So what’s the real problem? Again, not Johnny Appleseed, I can’t believe I didn’t see this. This is just Meghan Casey, and I’m saying it right now to you.

So the real problem is that your organization or your client’s organization, is not aligned. It is the wild west out there, there are cats running everywhere, I know this is a little blurry, but I love this GIF, so this just isn’t alignment. People are not on the same page. But they can be.

They can jump rope with a bunch of dogs at the same time.

It can happen. You can get this kind of alignment, so that everybody is jumping rope. Just watch these dogs. I mean what?

So that’s where content strategy can come in. I’m going to do a little overview of content strategy here and I’m sure most of you kind of know this, but every now and again, I run into somebody who isn’t familiar or doesn’t, you know, doesn’t think about it the same way that I might be, so just do a quick little primer here. So this is the definition that I’ve been using for content strategy and it’s used in a lot of places and it’s used even just for like marketing strategy or just strategy in general, but that content strategy helps organizations provide the right content to the right people at the right times, in their user journeys or funnels. And for the right reasons.

And here’s the part that’s often missing when I talk to people or when I talk to clients: They may have have figured out the right people. They even have an idea of the content that those people want. They might even know when they need it but they’re not really thinking about the right reasons for their brand, and that’s one of the things I really loved about Jon’s talk, as well, is what’s the role of your brand.

[10:00]

So you can provide all kinds of content that people might need in their journey, but if it’s not related to you, that you know, things that it makes sense for you to provide content on, you can get in — well, you can just waste a lot of money and not get any reward at the end of it. So really thinking about what are the reasons, what are we trying to achieve, and what’s the role of our brand, which I’m going to borrow from Jon and use forever. So this is a framework for content strategy that brain traffic uses. I will say that we have been talking about this a lot, deciding how to evolve it potentially. There are lots of other ways to look at content strategy. This one still works for us fairly well but our concept has evolved over time.

So let’s just walk through this quickly. So when are we’ve thinking about website strategy or even content production strategy, say content marketing or that kind of thing, we want to have a core strategy in the middle that answers these questions: What are we trying to achieve. What content will step us do that? Who is that content for? Why do they need it? And what do they want or need from us specifically? Because they can get information other places, and if we can’t provide something that’s a little bit different or provide it a little different value or perspective, then we’re just computing with all the different places that do that. So, for example, I’ve had a lot of health care clients and they all want to have like a health encyclopedia, and that’s great, but people go to Mayo Clinic or they go to something like medical information, and guess what, all that is the same. Why do you need to do that? Let somebody else do that, find something else for your brand to provide value about.

And then we get into the content sides of context strategy. So the substance, what are we going to talk about? What are we going to say? What are the calls to action? What is our brand, voice, and tone? And then the structure. How is that information prioritized? Organized? Categorized? What components make up the different views of the content? So substance is it how we’re going to fulfill our business objectives by meeting audience needs and structure is how are we going to find it so people can find and use the content?

Then on the people side, we’ve got workflows flow and governance. Workflow is how do we do content? What are the process that we use and tools to create content that’s on strategy. And governance, what’s the documentation of the strategy and the guidelines and the scan tarred we’ll use to make sure that we’re actually creating the right kind of content for the right people at the right times for the right reasons. Workflow and governance. The one thing I want to call attention to there is your strategy evolves as your business evolves and I think sometimes people forget that so they’re stuck creating content that would have made sense five years ago or not archiving that content even though they’ve updated some things.

To kind of sum all of that up, Kristina Halvorson, she’s my boss, says this: content strategy helps us to say no to things that don’t make sense. It puts the guardrails so that you’re not spending time and resources on things that are wasteful.

So I’m going to tell you a little story about a client that I had and I get a little worked up when I tell this story. I’m not going to cry like Steve did, but —I’m just kidding, that was very moving, Steve. So I’m going to tell you a little story.

Black cat SEO. Not Black Hat. Black cat, because it actually relates to cats and what a cute picture of a cat wearing a hat, honestly.

[15:00]

So I’m going to just walk through a conversation I had with a client. So I was asking, I was doing stakeholder interviews as we do, as we start to learn about the business of our clients. And I asked, what are you guys doing for SEO? What’s going on there? And he says, our SEO consultant is one of the things we’re trying is they’re recommending that we try to rank for the term black cat in October, because people search for like folklore type stuff around Halloween. This is a grocery store brand and they did sell cat food so we’ll give them that and I was like, OK, and I’m on the phone, I’ll let you know that right now, because the look on my face if I would have been in person with them, would have not been good.

And then I was like, oh, OK, well, tell me more about that. Another thing we’re known to do. And I said what content would you drive someone to if grocery store brand showed up in the search results for this term?

And he said well, they suggested that we send people to our cat food category page. The page where we have all of our cat food, and I’m perplexed and I was like, OK, really trying to stay calm here, well, how will that tie to your brand? Is there some perspective, spin, that you put on cat food and Halloween and folklore and whatever? And he was like, well, I don’t think so, it will just be a way to drive people to the product category and people will know we have cat food and I was like, OK, but and now I’m starting to get like not even very professional anymore. I’m just like, but, when people search for black cat are they looking for cat food? What? And I’m starting to get a little angry here and he’s like, hm, I guess not. And then I think he realized what was happening and I was like …

And I’ll tell you something, I was not mad at my client. I was mad at that consultant. Because they bamboozled him. They were spending millions of dollars with this SEO consultant over the course of the year and this is the kind of crap that they were recommending to them, and that was just one tactic, I don’t know what else they were doing.

So again, content strategy helps us say no to things that don’t make sense. That did not make sense. And I think as internal practitioners, and as people who consult with our clients, for me, job No. 1 is helping my clients make smart decisions and use their resources wisely. Because they don’t have — well, some of them do, but they don’t have infinite resources so they need to focus on things that are actually going to make a difference and in some cases, like Nike, I have a lot of problems where I probably couldn’t recommend that strategy, because they don’t have the resources to play the long game. Nike does. So that’s fantastic. Sometimes you really kind of have to help them think through the short game, but a lot of our clients, and we just don’t have money to spend on things that don’t make sense. And I feel really strongly about that, if you can’t tell.

So get aligned before you do anything with content, get aligned. So again, getting that alignment really starts from that core statement that answers what are we trying to achieve, who is the content for? Why do they need it and what do they want and need from us? So we’re going to try a little example here. I just said that.

So Origin Meals is an organization or a company in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Johnny Appleseed did not say this either. I’m going to have to fire my proofer, who is me. Origin Meals is a company that has this mission: Help people eat a Paleo diet of food that’s packed with nutrients and free of potentially irritating ingredients that don’t serve the functions of the body.

Now, let’s say you are a content manager or a content strategizer or somebody working on a website as part of a marketing team and this is your client and they come to you and all they say is, hey, Meghan, this is our mission, brainstorm some content ideas for us. Now, we are all smarter than to just go off and do that, but let’s just say we didn’t ask any more questions and you can say, OK I’ve got some ideas. We’re going to write some articles about the benefits of eating Paleo, we are going to do some guest blogger series of Crossfit gyms. Guest blogger series with people new to eating Paleo, Paleo recipes, and shopping lists. Articles about eating Paleo and working out. Profiles of people who met their health goals eating Paleo, a list of Paleo-friendly restaurants. Tips for going Paleo. Sample easy-to-make Paleo menus.

[20:00]

So this is not a real story, but origins is a real thing. But then they’re like, oh, we forgot to tell you or you forgot to ask, dummy, who our target audience is, and so they’re single and they’re living alone, they’re very busy. They believe in the Paleo philosophy already, they eat Paleo when they have the time to shop and cook. So now I’ve got this audience information to take into account, and I go back to my list. So what would I still do an article about the benefits of eating Paleo? No, because they already believe in it.

Would I still do a guest blogger series partnership with Crossfit gyms? Yes. Would I still do a guest blogger series with people new to eating Paleo? Nope.

Paleo recipes and shopping lists? Yeah. Ways to turn dishes you already make into Paleo-compliant meals? Yeah. Articles about eating Paleo and working out? Yup. profiles of people who met their goals oh, I’m sorry, I changed health to fitness, just to make it a little bit more on target.

Tips for going Paleo? No. Correct. Sample easy to make Paleo menus? And articles about feeding your family Paleo? No, because they live alone. So I have now narrowed my list from 10 to 6, bus I feel solid about these ideas and then my client says, here’s what we’re really trying to do as a business right now, we’re trying to increase first-time orders from our partner gyms and’ want to get people who order to stay ordering week after week. So I’m like, OK, well, this changes things, so I go back to my list, and I’m not going to walk through them by one anymore, but I go from these six ideas that make sense to a few less and so we don’t want to do Paleo recipes and shopping lists anymore because we want them to buy our food.

And I’ll let you know that Origin Meals sells like breakfast, lunch and dinner plans, so that you get all of your food. So their hope is that nobody ever cooks again, because they will just eat their food. We’re not going to do a list of Paleo-friendly restaurants because we want them to eat their food. Now, I will say that many some of these ideas may make sense. I’m going a little drastic here to show that you’re going to narrow your list. Sample easy to make Paleo menus, another one that we’re not going to do. And now lets just get down to how can Origin Meals use content to help them increase orders overall, so the objectives are that we demonstrate how Origin Meals help athletes eat to perform in the gym, and help athletes choose the meal option that best fits with their fitness goals and lifestyle.

So now we go back to our list and these are all still ideas that work pretty well, I just refined them slightly so we had a little bit of focus on the content. So guest blogger series specifically about eating Paleo. Articles about choosing a Paleo plan from Origin Meals, kind of depending on how you work out. And profiles of people, again, who met their fitness goals while eating Origin Meals. So being real specific. Showing what role Origin Meals can play in their life.

So we went from 10 ideas to 3 really good ideas. What they would have done if we’d gone with the original 10 is a lot of them wouldn’t work. So what if, before we brainstormed all of those ideas, I had come to them or they had come to me with hey, here is our strategy for content. So here’s the strategy I made up.

[25:00]

Origin Meals helps increase new and recurring orders with motivating content that demonstrates to busy, single, Paleo-minded athletes who live alone how our meals fit into their lifestyles? Wouldn’t that have been nice? What if we’d had that. The brainstorming we would have done. So here’s what’s baked into that statement. The business goals are baked into that statement. The audience is baked into this statement, and the kind of content that we want to create is baked into that statement. So we’ve got the right content, right people, right times, and right reasons, the business goals.

How many of you have, or think your clients have, a statement like this that guides what you do with content?

Nobody? I can’t see. Oh, here are some. OK, great, awesome. Yeah, so it’s helpful, right? It helps you spend your time and money wisely.

So with that alignment, you get a few good things. You get clarity on what you’re supposed to create. You get more good ideas. You get fewer ridiculous requests from your stakeholders who say we want an interactive timeline of the company’s history dating back to 1743, and you can say no!

You have more time for the right stuff, the stuff that’s actually going to make a difference for your business. You have less time wasted on the wrong activities. You have measurable ROI, because you can tie these things to goals. You have more audience satisfaction, you’re actually giving people stuff that they want and need. And you have empowered and competent content creators, which I think is really important and designers, you’re telling people here’s what we’re trying to achieve, you are now empowered to go do this in whichever ways you think make sense within these guardrails. It can be really great for people. I just finished up a stakeholder meet where I was asking the people can you tell me all the strategy behind all this work that you’re doing and most of them said I have no idea, I’m just handed an assignment and say, write this white paper. So if you can get everybody aligned on the strategy, people feel much more engaged and more ownership over what they’re doing.

So remember these guys? When you get that alignment, most of those things go away, which is great. And you have a little bit more high-fiving going on, because you’ve done some successful things with your content and you’ve made a real difference.

Alright so I’m going to drive it home with an example from Miss Kristina Halverson, and if you’ve been to her talk you might know who this is, Robin. OK, so this is strategy bear. He wants to eat to survive. He has a strategy, go to the river where the fish are, open my mouth, and eventually they will jump in and this actually happens, they just jimp in their mouth. So the tactic is open my mouth, and then a fish will jump into it while I’m in the river. Well, strategy bear has a sad, sad cousin named Bob. And Bob has a goal and a tactic, he hasn’t quite figured out a strategy.

I mean, look at him. Poor Bob. I really made Emma laugh at that one. Success!

All right. Meghan, that’s fantastic, great, now what? What do I do to get alignment? A very simplified process is what I’ve shown here, and that is, you need to learn about the business environment, you need to get perspectives from your stakeholders, you need to understand your audiences, and we’ll have you talk about Jon’s presentation for that. You need to distill all of that information into your insights and what you learn, and then you need to align on a strategy and then get to work. So I’m going to give you a few tools that I use to do this. There’s a hint. They’re all in my book. So buy it.

[30:00]

Or during this talk, I have my support strategist back at the office collecting all of the names of people who tweeted so far and throughout the rest of the talk and from those names I will draw randomly and I have one book with me to give away. Actually I have two, but I spilled water on one of them, so if you want a water-stained book you could have it.

So tweets. Keep tweeting. Here we go. So this is one that I use to help with understanding the business environment. One of the things that I say in the book and that I often say to clients and others is that we, as designers and content people, we do not have to be, you know, MBA, but we do need to understand how our clients and our organizations make and spend money. We have to have an understanding of those aspects.

So we need to get a handle on their business. This is the business canvas process from strategizer. I like to use it as a checklist to understand key components of the business. Can you find this online at strategizer.com. It talks about who are the customers or the users of our content or our thing. Who is it we’re trying to reach. It talks about business goals and the key activities and the resources we have available to us. Customer side, business side. Talks about where that comes together to provide value for the people we’re trying to serve. How can our business provide value? And then it talks about money. How do we make money, how do we price things, what are our specific offerings and how we get paid for them.

So it’s a really good checklist, I’ve used it in workshops before just to get people thinking about all of those aspects. The next thing is getting those stakeholder perspectives, all of the stakeholders. So stakeholders are difficult or can be difficult and sometimes it’s really tempting to say, well, we’re not going to talk to Barb, because Barb is a pain in the ass, frankly and she’s going to throw a wrench in our project. The problem is that someday Barb is going to come to you and say you never talked to me and I’m going to throw a wrench in your project.

So you want to talk to stakeholders at every level. You need leadership level people. You need people on the front lines or actually doing the work, you need technology, you need product owners, you need all of the people who provide perspectives that will impact what you do with content. In a workshop I use this really crude-looking place mat to get things going at the beginning of a workshop where I’ll ask people to jot down quickly how should the website support their business? Who is it for? Why do they use it? What’s broken, what’s not working today? And how would a successful project or a successful website impact that person personally? So I have people do this individually and then we share with the group and that way we understand where the differences are, people can understand oh, I think about it this way, but this other group has this other idea, we can start to have conversations about that.

In an interview setting which I recommend doing lots of in-person interviews if you can, this is a checklist from Kim Goodwin who’s actually super smart about user research, also, but she’s got this great stakeholder checklist that’s on boxes and arrows that you can grab and it’s got different types of questions to ask different stakeholders. I always go to this first to make sure I’m covering all the different things when I plan for interviews. You need to understand the audience.

So the first thing, do user research. Even a teeny-tiny bit of user research will help. So I like this quote from Erika Hall. And then I like to put the users, once we’ve learned a little bit about them, at the center of a story and I think this ties nicely to Jon’s conversation, as well, and kind of talking about the user journey. I like to use this — the hero’s journey from Joseph Campbell, which basically says every story ever written kind of follows this journey. There’s a call to adventure, which is the trigger. You meet a mentor and the people that you interact with along the way and what the end result is and all of this stuff and the important thing to know here is that, like Jon also said, there are parts of your user’s journey that absolutely nothing to do with you and you need to understand those parts to decide where you should play.

[35:00]

So once you’ve kind of figured out the journey, I have people write stories about their users and then I try to go through and validate some of that with research. And build stories based on the research. You can get to the places where you can help, and this is just a simple user story from the agile world, but as a conference attendee, I need to know when the breaks are, so that I can eat cake. So you want to think about what are those key things that you can help people achieve or accomplish, where your brand should play. I’m just going to keep repeating Jon over and over. And Johnny Appleseed didn’t say that either, but there’s an extra period on that page.

So one of the things that I want to do is document what I assume and know about the users. This is a tool that I created when I was write the book actually. I do this for a couple of reasons. One for my own understanding but also so that I can say to my clients, these are the things we want to know, this is why we care about them, this is what we assume, and this is what we have actually validated or proven with user research. So we wonder, this is a higher ed example: Do prospective students graduating from high school care as much about money as their parents do?

We care, because it affects how we’re going to provide messaging about financial aid. We assume that parents who are paying care more than their children, but we know, we’ve learned through research that when the kids are the ones paying the bill, they do care a lot more about that information and it’s an important factor in choosing a school.

So I would do as many of these as I can to try to understand the users and have as a reference point later.

And then you want to check in with your stakeholders to validate everything that you’ve learned so you want to make sure that they all agree on these our business goals. Our target audience for this effort, website, campaign, whatever it may be, is this audience and the content that they need from us based on research are these things. Just to make sure everybody is on the same page, have some discussions.

And then you can write a core strategy statement, similar to what I showed you earlier. So this is a Mad Lib, this particular one is one that Sara Wachter-Boettcher wrote and I’ve been borrowing and using. To help understand the goals, how we want content to make people feel, what emotion or state of mind, what kind of content, and what tasks are we supporting with our content? These turn into really clunky long sentences and you couldn’t have this be your core strategy, but you can use it to help refine a core strategy. Does anyone use mad libs for that kind of thing? Yeah, they tend to be fin for people and then once you’ve aligned on all of that, you can do more high fives with this cat. I just love how he’s just like — I like this cat and I don’t even like cats.

So I am quickly going to walk through some examples. The first one that I’m taking and I’m assuming the strategy. And the next two are ones that I actually worked on so I know what they were trying to accomplish. So the strategy here, Oberlin College, and some of you will probably if you’re in higher ed, know what I’m about to show, so their business goal, I’m assuming, is to increase enrollment, their target audience is students who have applied to multiple schools, including Oberlin and they wanted to make sure that Oberlin is high on their list and the content objectives are to demonstrate why current students chose the college and are proud to call it their educational home, enlist students and alumni to tell their own uncensored stories, loosen up a little bit.

So here’s a statement that I wrote for them based on this but I don’t know this to be true necessarily.

Our content helps increase enrollment by demonstrating to prospective students considering Oberlin and other colleges the uncensored, plain-language reasons current students and alumni feel or felt at home here.

This is actually built by an alumni and it’s why the F should I choose Oberlin? And so they asked current students and alumni to submit their responses to this question. So when you come here, you can just keep hitting it to get more reasons why you should choose Oberlin. It’s real, it’s — it’s real words from real people and apparently they did have quite a bit of success with this. They obviously had to get, you know, they had to probably do a little wrangling to get permission to do this but it was a very successful campaign from what I understand.

[40:00]

Another example is NAI global. They’re a commercial real estate company. And their goal is to increase qualified leads, their target audience was global commercial property owners, global business tenants and global property developers and the content objective was to demonstrate that the condition operates across the globe. Quickly community whether the company has what the audience needs and the market that they need it and direct qualified users to where they should go to. The statement that we came up with the content on the web increases qualified leads for our sales representatives by helping users determine whether we offer what they need in the location they need it regardless of where they start and we’ll get to that in a minute.

So this is a part of the home page on the site based on this strategy. So I did do Canada on purpose, you know, because we’re in Canada. They showed right away, that they have locations across the globe and that was very clear. And then the other main kind of part of this is that what we learned is that people are either — either come to the site with a specific service or expertise in mind, or a location in mind. So we wanted to make sure that very easily, depending on what mental model they were currently using, they could get into the content that they — that they needed.

So we drew for them this sort of pathway guide to say if they start, let’s say they come to the home page first, which a lot of people did. A lot of people did get to their home page first, which was interesting.

They could either dive into the expert page, the services page or the local information page, and no matter which way they went, they could easily get to Chad realtor at the bottom of this.

So that was the point of the site, was to get people very quickly to say, OK, you do offer property management services in Vancouver and here’s the guy I need to talk to or gal, or anyone else.

So that was part of that strategy.

And then finally, tastefully simple, people heard of tastefully simple, they’re like a food, I was going to say pyramid scheme, but that’s not true.

They’re not. They had as a business goal to attract and retain party hosts. They make their money having parties that people buy products at and to increase party sales, their target audience was prospective hosts fitting this Ashley persona they had developed. And the content objectives was to bring the party to life for septics. Showcase hosts and consultants, give them a real face and to inspire people to research products before the party, so that they were more apt to buy. So the content in our website and in our invitations helps us attract hosts and party guests by painting a picture of what it’s like to attend a party, featuring real hosts and consultants and their passion for tastefully simple …

And so here we have kind of telling people what the party was like is a focus of the home page, we have ideas about the kind of food that they’re going to try. We let people meet the consultant right away if they’re going to a party, and we had this — we had more ideas for this, but this is where they landed with resource, ways to pick options or pick food that they thought looked good. This site, I don’t have the statistics with me, but the numbers, based on what they launched, insane. They increased the number — the amount of sales at parties by like 75% in the first six months or something like that. That was crazy. It was kind of crazy that content and design had that much of an influence on their business. It was insane.

Great, so now what do we do? And I’m going to have to skip through this next piece, because I didn’t talk fast enough, I guess. So let me just say that we want to use a strategy to make decisions whenever — about what we create and publish. We ever’ going to provide the tools to help people create content that’s on strategy and we’re going to review content against the strategy. I have a bunch of tools in here to do that and you will get the slides so I just want to say one thing that you can do right away when you get back to work:

Make a list of some content that you worked on in the last year or so, take a stab at summarizing your business goals, content objectives, audience, fill out the Mad Lib, refine that into a statement and go back to your list and see how many of your ideas still hold water and I think you’ll find that a lot of them don’t and you can weep silently and then you can go get some permission to do some strategy. So that’s it, except before we go. Let’s just repeat our affirmations … I’m doing the best I can. No one is stupid on purpose. And it’s only the internet. Thank you.