Content strategist or cat wrangler: The importance of stakeholder buy-in

Rachel Lovinger tells us that “Literally, everything is content.” And as a nerdy stickler for language, I appreciate her correct use of the term. Literally everything IS content. What I’m writing is content. The image I choose to draw your attention to this blog post is content. And the quipy sentence I come up with before I post this to LinkedIn will be content to promote my content. While I created every bit of this content, companies often have many content creators working on one product.

Product marketing created the packaging content for the product. Integrated marketing teams developed the positioning content of the product. The advertising and promotion teams created the promotional content for the product. Sales often created the pitches and other materials needed to sell the product. And, finally, customer service often created content to help customers learn how to better use the product.

(Rose, 2017)

With this many people putting their mark on one product, of course the idea of changing how content is created is going to be a touchy subject. In her book The Content Strategy Toolkit, Meghan Casey notes “Content is very personal for many of your stakeholders, especially if they had a hand in creating what’s out there. Changing what content to produce sounds disruptive and scary” (Casey, 2015). This idea of change being disruptive an scary is why Casey spends so much time digging into the importance of budget, buy-in, and preparing for success when attempting to implement a content strategy.

Have you ever actually sat through a stakeholder meeting? If so… bless your heart. Hopefully you were one of the positive, helpful, HOPEFUL, champions of whatever cause or idea was attempting to take hold. If you have not… it is truly like trying to herd cats. Except the cats are MAD, and they don’t trust you, and they also want to know why these young whippersnappers are coming in to change everything they’ve worked hard for! Well, maybe that’s not always how it is, but that’s been my experience.

Stakeholders come from every conceivable, far flung sector of your company ecosystem and they often have differing opinions about the most basic of things – including what your company does or provides. One thing is certain – most stakeholders do not want to be seen as a disruptor or a liability. They want what is best for the company that they have devoted their time, energy, livelihood, or other resources to.

Getting stakeholder buy-in is one way to guarantee a successful content strategy project. Aligning the priorities of each group affected by this strategy and coming to a consensus – or the agreement that every stakeholder feels heard and is ready to move together on a set plan – will help clear confusing road blocks before you even get started. And, as Meghan Casey points out, don’t forget to bring the detractors to the table early! While it may seem easier to tell everyone to get on the bus or risk getting run over by it, Casey suggests that those objections are “just a need you haven’t uncovered yet.”

Casey, M. (2015). The content strategy toolkit : methods, guidelines, and templates for getting content right. New Riders.

Lovinger, R. (2007, March 27). Content Strategy: The Philosophy of Data. Boxes and Arrows.

Rose, R. (2017, November 29). Looking for Content Strategy Buy-In? Don’t Rely on the Same Arguments. Content Marketing Institute.

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