What IS a Content Strategist?

The Meetup group, Content Strategy PDX recently brought in Scott Abel, “Content Wrangler” to speak about what he calls, “The Content Strategy Silo Trap.” Scott helps put on the big LavaCon coming up in Portland, OR as well as the Content Strategy Workshop that runs on the same weekend(October 7-9) where he put together the designing and strategy for mobile workshop.

I’ve been to a few of the CSPDX meetups and the question is always asked, “What IS a content Strategist”? There always seems to be a hundred different answers and none of them ever seemed to resonate with me. I’m a Performance Analyst. I work with numbers, things that are concrete. Of course there is an art behind the analytics but for me everything comes down to what can be proven, what has significance.

Scott says a content strategist manages the cost of value. They are business consultants that deal with content. Everything needs to track back to value for them. They do the math, that determines the value, that makes their case for content. Value can be looked at in one of two ways, either savings which can be done through optimizations of efficiency, or sales.

Everyone is in the business to make money. If we don’t make money we don’t exist. If we don’t exist, neither does our content. No matter what business you are in your content needs to work for you otherwise what’s the point?

Scott asked us how a style guide, or a brand book makes a company money. The answer is that it doesn’t. In fact you actually LOSE money running the huge committee that takes hours to MAKE the brand book.  Now where can we leverage the style guide to create value? If we can automate some of the stylistic mandates through something like XML, or a template of some sort than we begin to work with efficiencies.

I really enjoyed the talk because I am a numbers guy. I’m a performance analyst and though some of what I do has some art and finesse to it, at its heart is raw data and numbers. What’s driving traffic? What’s the ROI? If you can’t prove to the finance department that what you are suggesting will create profits then it isn’t happening.

I think that all content should have a provable purpose. What do you think? Are there cases that require content simply for content’s sake? Where could your content work harder for you or how could your content change to produce profit either in savings or sales?

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