Thursday September 7, 2017

Building a New Content Strategy: Questions to Ask Internally

content strategy document

Content strategies grow stale. Just like websites or marketing tactics — RIP the Yellow Pages — your content strategy can go from top of the line to out of date in no time.

When your strategy starts to feel past its prime, the first step you should take is to reassess if the content and messaging is truly taking advantage of everything your organization has to offer. Is there a certain untapped expertise or topic you’ve left out or unintentionally minimized?  

To accomplish this task, you need to turn inward. We’ve previously written about how you should lead employee feedback workshops when launching a rebranding campaign, and your content strategy relaunch should do something similar. Rather than exclusively focusing on the culture of your organization, however, you should receive as much feedback from essential internal stakeholders on the quality of your existing content and where they think you still have room to improve. 

So, how do you accomplish this? Developing and distributing a content questionnaire is a good place to start.

Who to Ask

Your first step is determining who should receive this content questionnaire. For very small businesses (think 1-10 employees) it probably makes sense to ask everyone to fill out your questionnaire. Anything larger, though, and you’ll be better off focusing on key stakeholders.

When putting together your list of contacts, target a few tiers of personnel, including:

  • Executive team
  • HR representatives
  • Managers in appropriate departments
  • Select supporting staff

Some of this is obvious. Executive staff controls the direction and future of the business, so you obviously need their feedback on what your content strategy should entail. HR representatives do a lot of work growing the company culture and work with everyone on staff, so they’re also a no-brainer. 

Depending on the size of your organization, you may need to limit who you reach out to on the managerial level. To begin with, try to focus on those heads of departments or groups who are more affected by your content strategy. Sales, marketing and public relations are all must-haves, for example.

If you’re not stretching yourself too thin (anything more than 20 respondents is probably too much to sift through) then you can incorporate managers of departments who may see your content but never play a role in creating it — like an IT or accounting manager. Maybe there’s something they have always expected your content team would create but for whatever reason has never occurred to you. 

As you seek feedback from lower levels of staff (think coordinator level) you should reach out only to people who have a hands-on role in developing content or communications pieces. Ideally, you’d also like these members of staff to have been employed for at least a year so they’ll have a firm grasp on what types of content and topics has previously been covered.

What to Ask

Now comes the big question — what should your content questionnaire actually ask? 

The motivating factor behind these questions should be to help you uncover blind spots in your own content planning and get your respondents thinking about what makes your organization unique. To properly set expectations and come away with usable responses, be up front with coworkers before distributing your questionnaire. You don’t want them to get bogged down in the feasibility of creating each piece of content — that’s your job. Instead, you want them to focus on what they think will make your content stronger and resonate with your audience.

Below you'll find a sampling of questions you can take and build on to develop your own content questionnaire. While you’ll want to focus your questions primarily on content, it can be helpful to throw in a few additional fun questions to get them thinking. One note, however, is to be sure to limit the number of questions, avoiding sharing more than 10-15. You don’t want to overload your respondents or make completing the form take too much time. 

The questions:

  • Put yourself in our customers’ shoes; what types of content would you expect to see from (company name)?
  • What can (company name) talk about better than anyone else?
  • What do you think we should be discussing in greater detail than we currently are? Why?
  • What piece of content we created is your favorite? Why?
  • Have you ever heard any feedback from customers about our content offerings? If so, what were they?
  • Is there any industry publication, website or other related content you think we should look at as a model?
  • What gaps in education have you noticed among our leads or clients?
  • If (company name) was a person, how would you describe them? What would be their defining characteristics be? (example: kind, knowledgeable, funny, etc.)
  • Where did this personality come from? Why is it important to you that we have these characteristics? 

Now What?

You’ve determined who should answer your questions, sent them out and received responses. What do you do now? 

Obviously, you want to look for any similarities within the answers. If any theme pops up again and again, you should include it as a key message of your content strategy. You should also think about conducting one-on-one interviews with members of staff whose responses were interesting and worth exploring in more depth. You can also consider getting together a few respondents who had similar responses to flesh out their ideas in a short, 30-minute meeting to provide even more valuable feedback. 

Once you feel comfortable with your findings, present them to a select group of coworkers whose buy-in you need to get your content strategy rolling. This is another great chance to brainstorm these select findings.

After the presentation, if all goes well, you’ll be ready to develop a content strategy that embodies everything that’s great about your company.

Written by Scott Rogers
Tags: Strategy

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