Creating content - The case for professional development
The term “content” though widely used, is frequently misunderstood or excessively simplified. Too many business managers seem to believe the task is simply a task of writing words and/or selecting relevant illustrations. For this reason, the job is routinely performed “in-house,” outsourced to the cheapest-possible supplier or left to the devices of the website "designer. Is it any wonder that in so many cases, the results fail to deliver the desired outcomes?
Naturally, the manager (insider) will have the most intimate knowledge of the business, its products and services. However, despite belief that the customers are equally understood, there is no assurance that the reasons they purchase, or fail to purchase have been accurately defined in meaningful terms. These reasons are essential elements in defining the value propositions. These values must be as they will be perceived by the customer and other stakeholders. Specifically, they must not merely be the subjective guesses of management.
The second important challenge facing the insider is the skill to communicate these values in terms that will be grasped as relevant to the needs of the customer. It is rare to find a business where such talent resides within the employment base and less so within the management structure. This is not a criticism of those individuals, merely acknowledgement that they will have other priorities and functions.
When appropriate selection criteria are used, the use of a professional outsider is far more likely to deliver an appropriate solution. The key word is “appropriate.” A working style that is complementary to the business category is more important than an intimate knowledge of the business itself because the wider view will invariably be more attuned to the characteristics and needs of the customer base.
The second important factor is real experience. Although a “cheap” option may appeal via someone fresh out of a training course (or far worse – a family member) there is nothing quite like years of hard-won experience across a range of business disciplines. To resist paying a significant premium to a seasoned professional can be poor judgement. Even at a high charge rate, the cost will be negligible as a factor of the overall marketing budget and getting a positive result will be far more desirable than having poorly crafted (or downright bad) marketing content that may actually harm the perceptions of the business.
Sourcing the necessary skills
More or less in summary, the following attributes should be considered:
- A portfolio of work that illustrates style and competence.
- A style that is empathic with the customer base.
- Ability to work with a minimum of input and direction from management, due to actual experience within a similar business category
- Willingness to challenge the value propositions expressed by management and/or the ability to develop/enhance them.
- Superior communication skills that include client/management issues.
- Ability to extend the content creation via illustrations, specifications and other relevant methods.
- Flexibility to review and amend without abandoning core principles
- Ability to work within agreed budget and timing.
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