American Indian storytellerAs we steer more and more clients toward creation of a formalized content strategy, one piece of advice we often share is to urge them to “think like a publisher of your story.” Relative to creating a content strategy, what we mean is they need to start thinking about the categories of content (subject matter, not content form) that both speak to who they are and what they do, and are relevant to the needs their prospects will be trying to satisfy via searches.

It’s pretty cool what usually happens when we jump into this discussion. While most clients have the initial reaction of “We’re not a publisher, we make widgets!”, it doesn’t take many questions from us to start to demonstrate that their business does have a story to tell that just needs to be framed. Framed on one side by what are the most compelling pain or need points that their products or services address with customers, and on the other side by all the different things they do that allow them to deliver their satisfying product or service.

Our questions usually run something like this:

  1. Who are the customers that most appreciate your products? What are their common characteristics?
  2. What would they say is most valuable about how your product performs or what you do? How are your products better than the alternatives?
  3. What would they say about you if they were recommending your business to another business?
  4. What do you do as a business to create the points of difference that your customers appreciate?
  5. What special skills do your people possess to create superior products and better customer experiences?
  6. What technologies or proprietary capabilities lead to superior products?
  7. How do your vendors and allied businesses contribute to your strong market position?
  8. What do you do as a company to measure your performance versus competitors to insure future high customer satisfaction and loyalty?
  9. What values do you embrace as a business that help keep you at the top?
  10. What do you do as a business to make sure your future is as bright as your present?

Now, these aren’t easy questions to answer, nor should they be. But if you go through the rigor of answering them as honestly and objectively as you can (get help if you need help!) you’ll see some very natural editorial categories start to form. And before you know it, you’ll have created a powerful content strategy from what previously was a loose collection of unsubstantiated anecdotes. If only all value creation was this simple!