How to get your content strategy moving: Selling content to the rest of your team

31 May 2016

How to get your content strategy moving: Selling content to the rest of your team

A recent survey published on Moz revealed that over 40% of SEO professionals at large companies have been waiting at least 6 months for their latest change. This did not come as a surprise to many, and is very typical of what we hear from clients every day; when it comes to progressing in digital many large companies are their own worst enemies.

Now just think- if it’s taking over 6 months to implement a technical change, how long is it taking for these same companies to push through large pieces of branded content which need the sign-off of multiple teams? I’d guess that often, that waiting time is slipping into the years. Worst still, large content projects often get abandoned, wasting time and effort- and perhaps worst of all damaging the creativity and moral of the teams responsible.

So how can we prevent these situations, to ensure that we don’t fall short when it comes to following through with strategies? There are definitely ways in which you can safeguard yourself and your team from any surprise road-blocks. Here are a few of the most effective things you can do:

1. Get to know the other teams involved, before asking them to do something for you

Particularly within large companies you’d be surprised how common it is for whole teams to never cross paths- until one of the teams needs something! This can be an instant roadblock, as without knowing what you actually do and how you benefit the company as a whole, how can social/legal/tech or whomever be expected to take time out of their jobs in order to help you do yours?

Way before you begin a project make sure you have all the teams on your side. Do lunch together, go for drinks, ask to come and present a couple of your past reports. Get to know the people you plan to work with later down the line, ask them questions and take an interest! It sounds incredibly simple, but it does wonders for pushing things through.

I’m not saying this will get you to the top of the pile of priorities, but it’ll likely get you in the pile in the first place, which is often the first roadblock.

2. Understand where issues are likely to arise, before they happen

Slightly tougher than schmoozing your peers, and sometimes not absolutely possible; however, if you have a hunch that there’s one core team that are going to prove very difficult to get sign off from then build time in for this. For example, often the legal team can be very tough to move past simply because their job is to safeguard your company from risk- and producing a large pieces of content can open up your company to a whole lot of risk!

A good way of understanding this early on is sitting down with each team to discuss potential issues before too much time is invested. Be flexible, and make it clear that you have a deadline to adhere to and want to work together to make sure everything is as smooth as possible. You should also use this time to make it clear that you are there to help them, and can provide whatever they need to get your content live- hence why you must be sure to build in extra time.

3. Start small

Making sure that all teams can become acquainted with what they need to do with a series of small ‘bitesize’ projects is a great way to get a workable process in place before you launch a large piece of content. If each team has had to partake in a small content project a few times in the past, then a large project won’t seem as daunting.

Often sign-off gets held back or projects get abandoned because the responsibility and work involved just seems too big. By giving your colleagues workable examples of content production and the results you can gain on a smaller scale, you have something practical and relevant to refer them to when you’re trying to make major changes.

4. Question your plan before proposing it to others

Make things easy for yourself; if you can say ‘actually, I’d already thought of that and what if we……’ to any problems bought up by other teams then not only will you save yourself time, you’ll show others that you’re open to suggestions and can be flexible.

Not only this, but when you dedicate time to questioning yourself and your ideas you may well discover some real issues before you even reach other teams. Turning up to meetings unprepared is only going to diminish other’s perceptions of your content plans.

Make sure your idea is robust, by sitting down with your team and breaking apart not only the concept but the process of creation and promotion. Any cracks will quickly be discovered and you’ll be able to adjust and safeguard yourself to criticism before putting your idea out there.

5. Where you can, lay out exactly what you need other teams to do for you

When you know your idea inside out, it’s hard to think of it as daunting and complicated. However, imagine having a ton of work and various tight deadlines- and then being approached by another team and asked to invest time into a project which you know little about and doesn’t directly affect your personal KPIs. That’s stressful!

If you know the team you’re asking for help well by now (which if you’ve followed the above, ideally you do!) you can be clear and concise in your communication when letting them know what you need.

Ask them how they prefer to be sent plans and requests, as this will really help them understand what you’re asking of them. For example, I like to see things visualised in a slide deck whereas other members of my team like to sit down one-on-one to discuss processes before seeing any documentation. Understanding how you can present your case as simply a possible for each stakeholder will speed things up instantly. Although a tailored approach might seem like a lot of time and effort initially, if it gets you the sign-off and input you need then it’ll be worth it.

How do you work with other teams to get create and promote content? We’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below!