I began writing this article with the topic of crisis communications in mind. Given the recent events following the SNB decision, it seemed timely and appropriate to address the corporate messaging efforts, or lack thereof, following the fallout. As everyone knows, such market-shaking events provide opportunities for FX companies to inform, attract and/or assure clients; such events tip the competitive scale toward certain non-affected companies which can take on the spotlight to gain a competitive edge. Then I came across fellow expert Natalia Zaharova’s well-written critique on the viability of cold calling. I got to thinking that both topics have something in common: they are sub-components of a larger information product that companies should already have, but that many seem to lack. Beneath it all, what’s lacking is content strategy.
What Is Content Strategy?
Content strategy is the comprehensive process of conceptualizing, creating, delivering and governing content in alignment with a company’s vision, strategic goals and culture. If you’ve never heard of content strategy before, it might sound a little complicated. The concept itself, once you get it, is quite simple. The implementation however, can be complex but well worth it. Perhaps it’s best to illustrate this by way of analogy: throwing a baseball. When a pitcher throws a pitch, the action does not involve just the pitcher’s hand, arm and visual/mental faculties. The action involves the entire body and all applicable senses to leverage that one action. Without the use of the entire body and its senses, the pitch may end up lacking in strength and accuracy. The same thing goes for the overall content process. Without the coordination of the entire organization, a company will fail to leverage its means to effectively design, develop, deliver and manage content. This can reduce a company’s competiveness, as well as waste precious time, effort and capital.
What Makes Content So Important?
First, we need to redefine content. Looking beyond the obvious (content as a bundle of textual and graphic signs), content is the connective force that links a company to its customers and markets. Content envelopes potential (to inform, direct, persuade, etc.). It precedes, follows and flows between every transaction and relationship. There is nothing without or beyond content. It’s practically omnipresent in every form of perception and interaction. What matters most about content is not what it means or says, but what it does or persuades one to do. Content is (or is in) everything. When it comes to business, content is inextricably linked to everything that matters. Given this perspective, what company would not want to approach content strategically?
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What Does a Lack of Content Strategy Look Like?
It’s not very difficult to imagine. Marketing, sales, PR, education, customer service and technical departments all produce content. What if some content were well developed (say, strong marketing materials) while others were poorly written or non-existent? How would that affect customer experience; what would that say about a company? What if you had an innovative product but your product information was not findable? What if your materials, a mix of old and new, were in various stages, out of date and full of discrepancies? What if most of your potential clients were using mobile devices to search for information and none of your web information was mobile-friendly? These are just a few examples (I haven’t mentioned other important areas like content marketing, social media and translation). The important thing to note is that content production is a critical aspect of establishing and maintaining competitiveness. It also tends to be an overlooked cause of competitive decline.
How Can a Company Benefit from Content Strategy?
Developing an effective content strategy requires the combination of strategic and publishing mindsets. In fact, many FX companies are already heading in this direction. Imagine what it would be like to have a completely efficient and adaptable content process that is unified on an enterprise level. Content is modular and can be re-arranged and re-used to fit a particular format, channel or purpose. Information is findable. Content is dynamic and deliverable at any time and through any channel. All departmental content (sales, marketing, technical, etc.) is coordinated and aligned with a company’s vision and strategy, meeting the goals of customers and business.
By developing a robust content strategy, your aim is to produce content that is persuasive, that keeps everyone informed, and that can be delivered with speed, efficiency, adaptability and precision. Content is the lifeblood of enterprise, and content strategy leverages an enterprise’s potential.