aka clean out the cupboard and dust off what you’ve got
You may have that starting from scratch feeling, but chances are you have something you can draw on. Whether it’s your business plan, resume, a list of products, or some photos.
When I am commissioned by a business to write content for a new website, I will always look at the old website first. Or if it is a first time web development I will look at what pre-existing marketing assets that the business does have. By assets I mean any content that you have spent time and/or money developing, such as;
- Internal documents: Business Plan, Strategic Plan, Marketing Plan, Mission Statement, Employee CVs etc.
- Customer focused assets: Promotional photos, info-grams, brochures, portfolios, articles, flyers, a logo, etc.
If you don’t already, it is a good idea to start referring to these investments as ‘assets’. They cost money. They should be cherished. They should be reviewed and updated.
I make sure I have the text based assets compiled in an editable Word or Pages document, and then I do an old style SWOT analysis on the content I review. SWOT = Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. I do this by colour coding aspects of the image and text content that do and don’t work for me.
I use the following colour key:
The habit of using terms like ‘This works for me’ or ‘This doesn’t work for me’ is good collaborative practice, which Conrad and I have used since script writing, performance improv, and creative film making days. It is much better and less offensive than saying ‘this is bad’… for example.
You can insert comments to explain your highlights, where necessary.
Collaborate for best results
Hopefully, you have someone you can collaborate with. Whether it is a colleague or someone outside of your business. You may have your own methods of collaborating on content creation that work well for you, or you may like to give this method a try. Collaboration is hard but it usually gets good results and, when it works well, fosters confidence in the content created.
You can use this method between you and your in-house collaborators. Or if you outsource content creation you can use this method to give feedback to the delivery you receive.
If you are on the receiving end of this, or similar feedback, the trick is to take on board what your collaborator (or sounding board) says. At the same time, be sure to remain confident that it is you who makes the final decision.
Don’t react to the feedback immediately. When you are ready to revisit your piece of content, evaluate the comment, and simply either rewrite accordingly, or delete the comment, sound in the knowledge that you are confident in your choice to do so.
When annotating existing content in this way, put a brief ‘executive summary’ of the main points raised, at the top of the page. This is good practise whenever you are giving an extensive written review of, or annotating your collaborator’s work.
Perhaps you prefer not to collaborate. You are perhaps an artistic auteur or lone wolf. All well and good. You could still try reviewing and annotating your own work in this way. It may well be a good exercise to loosen up some writers block or to help you move out of creating mode and into responding mode, when reviewing your own work.
I once attended a seminar where a very successful and prolific screenwriter explained that when he finished a script he would print it out and colour code it according to ‘mood’ and then review the colours to see how much mood variation he was getting into his script.
I personally find that a colour coding process gives me two distinct advantages.
No1. I have a document that I can go through with my colaborator and we can see where our opinions converge and diverge. This is a really good place to workshop what should and shouldn’t be said, and how to, and how not to say it.
No 2. When it comes to designing and writing content for the campaign in question, if I find I’m floundering slightly for a departure point, I simply go back to this document. I use the highlights as prompts for what needs to be said, and how to say. Presto. We are rolling.
WARNING: Don’t feel like you need to perform this process on all of the existing assets. Decide how much you have in the time/money budget for this. It may only be one hour. That’s fine. Select an asset, perhaps a Home Page, if you have one, or a brochure, or portfolio. It is the reviewing of the document that is most important, and the insights that come from that.
Click here for return to 6 Sturdy Steps
Click here to go to Step 3: Develop (or revisit) your Brand Positioning Table
aka write down in one document all the most important things about you
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