Content Strategy: 5 Ways to Land Your Next Project

Posted on June 25, 2012 by in Uncategorized

If you’re interested in content strategy, you probably want to be involved in projects that allow you to practice the basics of the discipline. Here are 5 ways to demonstrate to your clients that you are the right person for the job.

Note: This is not just an article for freelancers. If you’re inside an agency or the content manager for a company, these are tips you can use to persuade your bosses to give content strategy a try.

Tips and Tools for the Content Strategist

1. Demonstrate collaboration. 
Change management drives content strategy.  (By the way, there’s a great business book out there now called Switch, which discusses the elements of change management.) 

The business analysis portion of content strategy is fundamental to the success of the project. You should ask questions like the following:

  • Is the right talent in the right roles?
  • Are the right professionals guiding and managing the workflow?
  • Who makes the decisions, and do they have the right background to do so? (Think IT guy who runs a website — should he really be calling the shots on major content issues?)

Show your boss, or future client, you want to work with the people they have in place. However, you should make it clear that your recommendations are just those–just recommendations — at the end of the day, clients want to feel comfortable that you’re not going to ram things down their throat

2. Discuss return on investment, understanding you may not prove it directly.
I recently won a great content strategy product by answering this question honestly, “What will be our ROI?” I simply said, “I don’t know that you’ll be able to quantify it, necessarily. What I do know is that I will take the guesswork out of execution so your editorial staff will have more time to be creative, hopefully influencing the quality of your content, and therefore your page views (this was an ad revenue model).” I was hired on the spot because they appreciated my honesty, and I was crystal clear about objectives.

3. Be open to several discovery conversations.
Just like you wouldn’t agree to move in with someone after one date, it’s probably a good idea to have several meetings, or phone calls, before signing on the dotted line for a large content strategy project.

Different conversations will reveal the nuances of the project, and will give you the time you need to think through how you might handle each challenge. Clients (and bosses) like this approach as well, because it gives them the opportunity to see how your thinking evolves over time.

4. Be willing to break the project into pieces.
Sometimes, a client will only want to hire you for a content audit, and not the entire strategy plan. That’s okay. Not all content strategists can plan the entire content strategy lifecycle. This may also be the client’s way  of testing the water. So if they call you to inventory or create a style guide or governance plan, take it. If you execute well, there will be more work down the road.

5. Talk about past successes — and things you might have done differently.
Clients like to know that you’ve handled similar challenges in the past. They also like to know what’s worked and what hasn’t–in the book Switch, these are called bright spots and gaps. 

Do not be afraid to talk about different content strategy challenges you managed. The sign of a strong, confident professional is the ability to reevaluate and analyze how you might have proceeded differently. This type of thinking demonstrates your ability to think through challenges, analyze the outcomes and apply what-if scenarios.

Any tips for a freelance content strategist or internal content strategist looking to convince influential stakeholders? They’ll appreciate the comments…and so will I.

This article first appeared on CMSWire.

About Ahava Leibtag

Ahava Leibtag, MA

Ahava R. Leibtag has more than 20 years of experience in writing, messaging and marketing. She is a well-recognized content expert and writes thought leadership about content strategy and content marketing. Ahava is the President and owner of Aha Media Group, a content strategy and content marketing consultancy founded in October 2005. She... More >