Making content strategy a habit

When we’re working with our clients, we find that many people see the value in content strategy after just a conversation or two about how it can improve business results.

What’s harder is making content strategy a daily practice.

Some of our engagements are just about the strategy, doing research, learning the organization, providing advice and a framework for future decision-making. And some are longer-term, where we become a content partner on many projects over time.

Either way, doing things the content strategy way often involves organizational change. Organizations [outside the media world] didn’t use to sit down and say, hmm, here’s a new idea, what does our content team think? Do we have the content we need for this? How will content be part of the solution?

Making that mindset shift is often the hardest part of content strategy. You have to form the habit of content strategy for your organization. And, like forming a habit personally, this is hard work for an organization — perhaps even harder, since organizations are made up of many people.

When I’m trying to create a new habit myself, I find that it’s important to create an environment that allows me to succeed. I’m trying to eat better and be healthier right now, so I have written down some instructions for myself. You’ll laugh, but one is:

* Do not eat at Sonic until reaching your goal.

Sonic is my weakness! I’ve identified that point. And you won’t believe how much it matters that I’ve made my intentions so concrete. It used to be easy to say, I’ve eaten so well this week that one corn dog won’t hurt. But now, I’m reminding myself that the goal is what’s important, and this instruction will help me achieve my goal faster.

In your organization, if you’re working to create a content-strategic culture, you may want to create some specific instructions for yourself, too. How about:

* All project kick-offs include a discussion about the content strategy for the project.

Or maybe you have that down, but the trouble is on follow-through? So maybe your instruction is:

* Each project has someone assigned to content strategy.

Then it’s someone’s responsibility to cover this topic throughout the life of the project.

If your organization is ready and willing to include content strategy on its projects, you may just need to adjust your framework and process to give it space to succeed.

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