I’ve been writing professionally for a long time. 17+years, in fact. For newspapers, magazines, corporations, you name it. I’ve watched ebbs and flows in business as content — and the purpose and function of content — has changed.
THE SHOTGUN APPROACH TO CONTENT
Just a few years ago, as the volume of my web writing contracts increased, I started to notice that many clients were using the shotgun approach to content: Shoot out tons of content and hope that some of it works. The no-surprise-to-anyone result of this was that industry rates were driven down as bootstrapping entrepreneurs offshored their content to third-world/non-English-speaking countries who could produce tons of barely-passable content. Quantity over quality was a way to “work” the search engine system.
At the same time, I was writing my thesis for my MBA (in Strategic Management) and I was thinking a lot about building a scalable, measurable business framework. Basically, a corporate structure that could be used for more than just making fancy organizational charts.
BUILDING CONTENT STRUCTURE
So I was writing content and thinking about the strategy of a structure and it was only natural to bring content into that framework. My research took me into the world of content strategy where insightful businesses realized that quantity over quality only worked on search engine algorithms, not on search engine users. Content strategy, instead, recognizes that end users approach content with a purpose. (Read a great article from FastCompany called “Filter or Be Flooded: Do You Need a Content Strategist?”, which offers a compelling overview of content strategy).
THINKING ABOUT CONTENT STRATEGY
For a few months, I wrote a lot about content strategy as I worked through it in my own mind. (That’s what I use my blog for: As a brain laboratory). I posted an article on Technorati about it, which was received well by most readers except for the Queen of Content Strategy herself, Kristina Halvorson. Her blunt comment prompted a brief email exchange between she and I which clarified my thinking and narrowed the scope of my “content strategy” work into a much narrower field.
NARROWING MY FIELD TO CONTENT FOR SALES FUNNELS
I do content strategy as part of the copywriting and technical writing services I deliver. The content strategy I was focused on (even way back in that initial Technorati article) — and am still focused on is the strategic use of content as a tool for sales funnels.
There are other uses for content, of course, and content strategists deal with the various uses and functions of content. But I’m primarily concerned with how a business’ sales funnel moves audience members to become leads then prospects then customers then evangelists… and strategically developed content plays a role in that progression.
So, content strategy still plays a role in my thinking and services but it serves a larger purpose today (at least for the work I do): To accelerate business performance by accelerating sales funnels.