The science and art of content development
This article may cause some soul-searching amongst those who develop their own content. However, just as "oils ain't oils," a business-owner's view of customer requirements may not satisfy the information needs of either existing or potential stakeholders.
A common alternative to in-house content development is to engage a "web "designer" to develop the content along with the graphics. Unfortunately, while there are exceptions,many web designers seem more skilled in visual appeal than with the relevance of the content and the way it is structured.
The stakeholder "mindset"
Stakeholders come in all shapes, sizes and mindsets. The characteristics, information-needs of stakeholders and how each will respond to that information is critical. .
- Potential customers might seem to be the most obvious group of stakeholders. However, these probably fall into several sub-groups, each requiring specific information and style of communication to assist their decision-making.
- Existing customers are another key group of stakeholders and what they already know should never be taken for granted. It is important not to patronize them, but also to offer new insights that will not only keep them loyal and possibly seeking additional products/services that you can provide.
- Shareholders, bankers and other financiers should be carefully nurtured to retain their support. They want hard information, far more than slick graphics and generalised blurb.
- Employees are stakeholders too and well-constructed website content has the potential to become a valuable source of information to help them in their work and sustain pride in their employer. The associated benefit is that what they see will be the "authorised" version of information and not something they invented themselves or picked up, distortions and all, from others.
Adopting these guidelines may make all the difference between developing effective informaton and something that might even be potentially detrimental.
The psychology of marketing
Marketing itself is a frequently misunderstood term, with many believing it is merely an alternative term for "sales." Actually, though closely related, the functions are very different. A resonable definition of "marketing" might be:
“Marketing is the process of how a business, product or service promotes its key features and benefits to its customers, which ultimately generates sales for the business by satisfying its customers’ needs.”
(source: Australian Business)
The fundamental basis of effective marketing is understanding and catering to the psychology of the stakeholders. https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2018/07/psychological-insights-marketing/ offers one of the better no-nonsense, practical outlines of the subject.
If a business has only one stakeholder group, it can be fairly simple, but in most situations there may be several, each with differing interests and needs, so there is therefore a need to understand and apply the underlying psychological principles when communicating with each stakeholder group
The DIY content development model
Developing that theme further, if the basis of effective communication is understanding and embracing the various stakeholder categories, then developing effective solutions gets quite complex.
Even good writing skills, logic, organisation of information play their part in achieving the desired outcomes. Getting the "tone" right will also be important. Each stakeholder wants information in a way that resonates. Structuring the information to promote intuitive navigation through the information should allow each recipient to "drill down" seamlessly to whatever is of interest and to whatever degree of detail is relevant.
Although the owners/managers within the business will certainly have the best knowledge of their products, services, supporting infrastructure and so on, the question remains whether they perceive these elements as the "outsider" perceives them . Also, do they really have the experience and skills to communicate the features and benefits effectively?
The "website designer"model
Without question, there are many excellent web designers who can and do create good content. However,much depends not just on the quality of the brief from the client but also on first-hand knowledge of the category.This is especially true of industrial and technical markets. Not only can there be specific terms with precise meanings within each category, but the mindset of users within each will also vary considerably.
For example, it is notoriously difficult to influence tradespersons to embrace new suppliers, let alone new products and/or techniques and this is understandable because their livlihood depends upon getting the job right first time. There is little room for experimentation. In such situations personal experience, peer group acceptance and referrals are usually more effective than blurb.
A website designer may be truly proficient at content creation in certain categories, but skills are not routinely transferable unless there is relevant experience in the client's market.
Enter the professional content specialist
The answer could be to adopt the same criteria as defined above, namely
- Look for experience and skill in a market category that broadly mirrors your own.
- Find a content developer who understands and practises effective information-management, including how to structure that information to facilitate intuitive navigation.
- Allow your developer to question your ideas, also request and/or create new information material (like charts, tables, etc to illustrate key points).
Finally, a plug for our services
Please consider the various issues described in this article and whether OUR services and methods meet your needs. Please CONTACT US for a FREE initial discussion.
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