So the Quest Begins

I I’m on a quest. I want to become the reigning queen of content strategy. The Oprah of content, if you will.

This journey has included years of roles that have shown me the good, the bad and the ugly of content strategy, development and management. And within my research, I stumbled upon an article outlining what’s required to become a content strategy heavyweight. I believe all points were solid, but I’m here to call out what they missed.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking their hustle. I just don’t want to be ANY heavy weight. I want to be the Mike Tyson of Content Strategy (minus the face tattoo and ear snacking).

Big Mike holds no punches

So what you’ll find here is an extension of the first article, but fined tuned to highlight those qualities that will help me reach my goal.

    1. Organization and multi-tasking skills: Yes, yes, and yes. I couldn’t agree more. But, this is what makes the job fun. Actually, this is why you should never be bored. Organization is key to keeping your team on the same page. Your task is to find the gaps in communication, create a space for the entire team to know (and understand) what’s on everyone’s plate, offer a filing process and – ultimately – develop a rhythm. In terms of multitasking, be prepared to own a myriad of tasks. I wouldn’t say you need to be a guru at everything, but consider your strengths. Are you a visionary? Writer? Analytical? Delegator? Communicator? Storyteller? Designer? Etc.? As a strategist, you want to strike a balance between multiple skillsets in order to create the blueprint of the content plan.
    2. Solid writing skills and an eye for detail: As a marketer, I often downplayed my writing skills. But, I soon came to understand that this is a solid skillset that you should hone. It absolutely comes in handy when you’re conveying the overarching story. Furthermore, it’s nice to know that you can write the copy if necessary OR guide your writing team. As for detail, look out for all errors. More importantly, know your audience. Pick up on phrasing or idioms that may not translate well if you have a global audience. Callout anything that may be considered offensive to some. Aim for consistency throughout all the copy used on a platform and within a campaign – all while remaining true to your brand. It goes beyond the grammatical errors. But, who are we kidding? Grammar is an absolute must.
    3. Interpersonal and motivational skills: When I was a news reporter, I had an opportunity to interview people of all walks of life. From the CEO to the entry-level employee, you should have the moxie and ability to build relationships with everyone – especially your team members. As for motivation, you need to truly believe in what you’re doing. If you truly believe it and it is grounded in the brand’s message, it is easier to motivate. But this is where interpersonal skills come into play. You should be building your goodwill during your tenure in your role. Motivating, supporting and encouraging your people makes your job more fulfilling.
    4. An analytical and interpretive mind: Analytics are key in content strategy. Sometimes it can be difficult to get a hold of, but try your best to find something. This information can help guide you as you think about what will and won’t work in your overall strategy. If you learned that an IG campaign failed in past, knowing that content was verbose and lacked compelling imagery is an excellent start as you start planning. Now you’re in a position to run A/B tests of your own to determine what will work for the audience you’re serving. You can set the appropriate key performance indicators (KPIs) as you use previous goals or set new goals for the campaign you plan to run. Honestly, how do you know where you’re going if you have NO clue as to where you’ve been?
    5. Flexibility: My mom was in the military. If she says be there by 5 p.m., I better be there by 4:45 p.m. to be on the safe side. So for me, flexibility was a hard nut for me to crack. I do believe planning is key in content strategy. However, to truly be effective and memorable, it’s going to take flexibility to ensure relevance and resonance with the audience you’re communicating with. Don’t sleep on this. Be on time, but don’t be SO tightly wound that you miss out on wonderful opportunities to shine.
    6. Consensus-buiding skills: In my experience, those interpersonal and motivational skills come in handy here. Plus, you need to come with facts. Best practices. Examples to support your recommendations. Prior to building consensus, know your internal audience. At the end of the day, EVERYone will need to feel they can walk away with what THEY want. It’s human nature. Go into the conversation prepared to answer the proverbial “what’s in it for me?” Yet, your recommendations need to always support the brand’s goals and messaging paired with the company’s objectives and mission. Ultimately, don’t forget that your recommendations should reflect the needs of the consumer you’re trying to attract and/or retain.

  1. Trustworthy: Not to sound too “syrupy,” but trust goes a long way. People need to trust that you understand the goals of the organization and the brand. People need to trust that you understand and truly want to inspire your existing customers and attract new ones. People need to trust that you have your customer’s and team’s best interest at heart. With content management and development, there will be fire drills. However, everyone needs to trust that your sleeves are rolled up and you’re helping put that fire out. Don’t wait till a fire emerges and then show up with donuts. Donuts don’t put out fire. I repeat, they DO NOT. PUT OUT. FIRES.

  2. Planful and Expectation Setting: I’ll admit it. I’m on the fence about “planful” actually being a word. Now that is out of the way, let’s get to planning. This is a skillset that you must lean your hat on heavily. When you’re working with a creative team, the last thing they need is for their best work to be stifled. They understand that things happen (remember, flexibility). However, 80% of the time, map out a framework for all projects, campaigns and platforms. Start with setting your team up for success. Offer guidelines, a brand playbook – if you will. Set up an all-hands meeting (please try and make it fun) to walk through the guidelines and encourage everyone to ask questions. Get everyone on the same page. For instance, I was able to guide my team to build out all social network copy, videos and graphics a month in advance. It was certainly rough, but we got there and boy was it smooth sailing AFTER we got that rhythm in place. It set the expectations of everyone involved. My brand manager and I had time to review and approve the work within our busy schedules whilst giving our creative team time to adjust. If you see the schedule slipping, let everyone know and encourage everyone to do the same!
  3. Audience Steward: Learn your audience. Advocate for them – hard. Seriously. Your content will NOT work if you are tone deaf to what they are responsive too. Study what works for other brands that cater to the same audience. Don’t just look at the competition. If you represent a luxury fashion line, look at luxury cars, appliances, etc. Figure out what your customers need and deliver. Be prepared to make changes if what you’re doing isn’t working (analytics, flexibility).
  4. Forward Thinking: I’ve lost count of the nights I laid there thinking of how I could plan the perfect survival plan for me and my family during the zombie apocalypse. Food kit, anyone? All jokes aside (okay, I’m slightly serious), with content you should always be thinking about the big picture and what’s next. Could there be a fallout on a particularly risqué spoof video? Sure, you’re copying a poignant music video that has enjoyed massive success, but are you rubbing people the wrong way? Perhaps you’re using the latest slang word to feel “hip” and “with it.” Yet, you may be offending someone. Or perhaps you know your brand is about to go through a massive restructuring, now is NOT the time to test out something new when it is contrary to the message in the two-year pipeline. So you know your automotive brand is switching its image from economy-priced to compete with luxury brands. Don’t strategize a year-long video ad campaign boasting how you have the cheapest cars in the business. Hey you may get moderate success, but you’re shooting the brand in the foot when you know it’s about to make a serious switch. Think ahead.
  5. Budget Conscious: So you have a budget. In my experience, you can either NEVER have enough because there’s always more you could be doing. Or you have a lot, but not enough time. So you’re faced with a “use it or lose it scenario.” Whichever boat you land on, continue to be planful and a forward thinker. In my last role, I became a permanent fixture in my accounts payable department. My best suggestion is, as you map out your overall strategy, tie-in the numbers. Do your due diligence and get final numbers from vendors upfront. And stick to them. Hold them to the contract, but be willing to adjust (only as needed) because if you have no room to get more dollars, you are going to chip away from “the powers that be’s” trust. Don’t forget, trust is vital! If this is a sticky area for you, partner with your manager up front on ways to stick with it. If you need them to be your guard dog when the vendors attempt to go off the rails, be prepared to put in that fight.
  6. Scrappy: Last but not least, be scrappy. Look for smaller, local vendors who are proven but hungry for new, exciting work. If you’re hiring direct reports, seek out those candidates who have multiple skills and are anxious to use them. You may hire a copy writer who has a knack for Photoshop. Or an analyst who has a natural talent for writing. For me, I was always seeking ways to cut budget from unnecessary costs (like expensive hosting agents for our websites) so that I could put it towards our content development and analytical tools. Teach yourself skills, such as HTML or programs like HootSuite/Sprinklr/Google Analytics, in case you want to step in when needed or own a certain task. If there is ever a role where scrappiness is appreciated, it’s content strategy.

I’ve experienced it all, but these are all the basics of what I believe will give me the power to excel as a content strategist. I’m working to find my way.

Plus, I sort of lied earlier. Yes, sleep is sacrificed by way of a zombie attack, but content strategy certainly has those wheels turning in the wee hours in the morning as well. But, I’m getting there!

What are you doing? What’s missing on this list or doesn’t need to be?

toynorwood | May 11, 2018

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ContactContact

Let's Chat!

Are you seeking a content strategist who’s grounded in the art of storytelling? One who isn’t afraid of analytics and the tough conversations? Would you like to find someone who speaks both the language of business and creative? Don’t hesitate to check out my LinkedIn profile, reach out or request my resume.

I’d love to get an understanding of your needs to see if there’s a match.

My Homestead

Seattle, Washington

My Digits

(707) 836-3645

My E-mail

hello@toynorwood.com

About MeAbout Me

I'm a content strategist. Storytelling is in my bones!

At my core, storytelling is what drives me. I consider all points of the story and the potential outcomes, whether it’s a personal tome or a brand message. Relevancy, resonance and consistency drive me to write and develop content that matter.

I have 15 years of marketing management experience. So I understand the business. I get the need for KPI setting and performance metric tracking. I enjoy streamlining processes and managing teams to keep moving forward, yet I know with marketing you must be flexible and agile. Stakeholder and client management is my “jam” because understanding their objective and providing guidance as needed is a great opportunity to build rapport and gain their trust.

Yet, as a former journalist, current writer and creative visionary, I thrive on content development. I have a profound respect for all things creative (i.e., copy, design, photography, web design/UX, videography and illustrations). As a writer, I speak the language. Put me in a war room and I’m in heaven because I can advocate the needs of the stakeholder while inspiring our team to be free to create fresh, new content that will resonate with the end user.

Essentially, I’m passionate about creating content that sticks while finding ways to keep all parties involved happy with the results.

Check out my experience below!

Toy has a penchant for getting to the heart of any story to communicate its relevance and compel audiences to act. Working alongside Toy on an array of product and service marketing endeavors, I recognized her passion for investigating technology hands on, translating complicated concepts into a meaningful story that wowed our clients and colleagues alike. When it comes to technology marketing, if content is king, she might just be the queen of marketing it.

Nick Louie, Audienz

Toy is one of the rare individuals that thrives in all environments. Her strong work ethic, excellent marketing and content development skills are only the beginning. She’s an enterprising individual that enjoys collaboration and finding creative solutions to complex challenges. She’s all about delivering great work and she’s not afraid to roll up the sleeves and apply some serious brain power to achieve success for her clients. I would happily work with her again.

Nathan Wright, Bridge Partners

Toy approaches every business challenge from a knowledgeable and thoughtful point of view. Her marketing strategies are born from data, research, and analysis. You can trust that a solution recommended by Toy has been analyzed and validated from multiple points of view. From there, her strategies come to life in her ability to craft meaningful and relevant stories. From her marketing acumen to her deep camaraderie with her team and her dedication to delivering results for her clients ─ Toy is an all-around player.

Corey Pilkington, Prime 8 Consulting

Toy is an amazing storyteller, writer and strategist! I had the pleasure of working with Toy of a number of challenging client engagements and she consistently delivered above-and-beyond client expectations. Toy possesses a unique ability to translate complex technical messaging into compelling stories that resonate with real people. And, she is fun to work with!

Russ Rogers, Prime 8 Consulting

A dynamic marketer and memorable wordsmith ... her creativity, communication skills, and passion for client servitude have all helped her excel in BuzzBee's fast-paced setting. Her varied experiences paired with her positive spirit and wit have worked extremely well as she developed effective working relationships with her clients, the creative team and vendors - all while becoming a trusted advisor and leader. Fun, yet professional in every sense of the word, she is a joy and an asset to any team.

Michele Bourdon Keeffe, BuzzBee

Toy is definitely the go-to person if you are thinking about truly enhancing customer experience. She is extremely passionate about customers and partners. Toy helped us launch a Relationship Marketing program focused on CRM online customers. She constantly strived to drive balance between corporate messaging and customer perceptions. One of Toy's biggest strengths is her copy writing skills - she has a flair for simplifying communication and ensuring the message resonates with the intended audience. I would highly recommend Toy for her work ethic, customer vision and commitment to excellence.

Anusha Rangaswamy, Microsoft

Toy was my marketing client on Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Toy was one of my favorite people to work with because she is an expert at maintaining a positive experience for the customer. She continued to ask questions and push for the clearest and most relevant messaging for the customer, while keeping things simple. Toy has a natural ability to see the bigger picture and keep the rest of the team on track. Other qualities include great sense of humor, high integrity and positive attitude.

Jacci Johnson, POSSIBLE

Toy is a versatile storyteller. Not only does she make it really easy for the audience to understand the subject matter, but she also has a knack for establishing an emotional connection through her communication so that the audience cannot help but care about it. When assigned a topic with which she is unfamiliar, she researches it tenaciously on a short timeframe. I'm not one to play politics so I especially appreciate that she is a straight shooter. Working with Toy was a privilege.

Chin One Chan, Marketing Consultant

I wondered, what does it take to be a fabulous content strategist? I discovered this great article that helped me think about how I actually measured up. I also wrote a follow-up column on what I felt the article was missing. Below, you’ll find my self evaluation of those top six skills (in black), plus the six additional skills (in orange) I believe complete my toolkit.

  • 0%
    ORGANIZATION AND MULTITASKING
  • 0%
    SOLID WRITING SKILLS AND DETAIL ORIENTED
  • 0%
    INTERPERSONAL AND MOTIVATIONAL
  • 0%
    ANALYTICAL AND INTERPRETIVE MIND
  • 0%
    FLEXIBILITY
  • 0%
    CONSENSUS BUILDING
  • 0%
    TRUSTWORTHY
  • 0%
    PLANFUL AND EXPECTATION SETTING
  • 0%
    AUDIENCE STEWARD
  • 0%
    FORWARD THINKING
  • 0%
    BUDGET CONSCIOUS
  • 0%
    SCRAPPY

Musings of a StoryholicMusings of a Storyholic

Celebrating the Art of Content Strategy
Keeping the Audience’s Attention Through Tie-ins

I am a sucker for anything cinematic. Yes, I’m in love with the ongoing story of a TV show or the big reveal of a movie. But, I’m equally entranced by the marketing behind them. How do they capture our attention in the first place? Then how do they keep our attention and our engagement?

Consider the tie-in. Tap into what the audience already knows and loves. Yet, don’t hesitate to give them a sneak peak of what they can expect.

So the Quest Begins

I I’m on a quest. I want to become the reigning queen of content strategy. The Oprah of content, if you will.

This journey has included years of roles that have shown me the good, the bad and the ugly of content strategy, development and management. And within my research, I stumbled upon an article outlining what’s required to become a content strategy heavyweight. I believe all points were solid, but I’m here to call out what they missed.

ContactContact

Let's Chat!

Are you seeking a content strategist who’s grounded in the art of storytelling? One who isn’t afraid of analytics and the tough conversations? Would you like to find someone who speaks both the language of business and creative? Don’t hesitate to check out my LinkedIn profile, reach out or request my resume.

I’d love to get an understanding of your needs to see if there’s a match.

My Homestead

Seattle, Washington

My Digits

(707) 836-3645

My E-mail

hello@toynorwood.com

About MeAbout Me

I'm a content strategist. Storytelling is in my bones!

At my core, storytelling is what drives me. I consider all points of the story and the potential outcomes, whether it’s a personal tome or a brand message. Relevancy, resonance and consistency drive me to write and develop content that matter.

I have 15 years of marketing management experience. So I understand the business. I get the need for KPI setting and performance metric tracking. I enjoy streamlining processes and managing teams to keep moving forward, yet I know with marketing you must be flexible and agile. Stakeholder and client management is my “jam” because understanding their objective and providing guidance as needed is a great opportunity to build rapport and gain their trust.

Yet, as a former journalist, current writer and creative visionary, I thrive on content development. I have a profound respect for all things creative (i.e., copy, design, photography, web design/UX, videography and illustrations). As a writer, I speak the language. Put me in a war room and I’m in heaven because I can advocate the needs of the stakeholder while inspiring our team to be free to create fresh, new content that will resonate with the end user.

Essentially, I’m passionate about creating content that sticks while finding ways to keep all parties involved happy with the results.

Check out my experience below!

Toy has a penchant for getting to the heart of any story to communicate its relevance and compel audiences to act. Working alongside Toy on an array of product and service marketing endeavors, I recognized her passion for investigating technology hands on, translating complicated concepts into a meaningful story that wowed our clients and colleagues alike. When it comes to technology marketing, if content is king, she might just be the queen of marketing it.

Nick Louie, Audienz

Toy is one of the rare individuals that thrives in all environments. Her strong work ethic, excellent marketing and content development skills are only the beginning. She’s an enterprising individual that enjoys collaboration and finding creative solutions to complex challenges. She’s all about delivering great work and she’s not afraid to roll up the sleeves and apply some serious brain power to achieve success for her clients. I would happily work with her again.

Nathan Wright, Bridge Partners

Toy approaches every business challenge from a knowledgeable and thoughtful point of view. Her marketing strategies are born from data, research, and analysis. You can trust that a solution recommended by Toy has been analyzed and validated from multiple points of view. From there, her strategies come to life in her ability to craft meaningful and relevant stories. From her marketing acumen to her deep camaraderie with her team and her dedication to delivering results for her clients ─ Toy is an all-around player.

Corey Pilkington, Prime 8 Consulting

Toy is an amazing storyteller, writer and strategist! I had the pleasure of working with Toy of a number of challenging client engagements and she consistently delivered above-and-beyond client expectations. Toy possesses a unique ability to translate complex technical messaging into compelling stories that resonate with real people. And, she is fun to work with!

Russ Rogers, Prime 8 Consulting

A dynamic marketer and memorable wordsmith ... her creativity, communication skills, and passion for client servitude have all helped her excel in BuzzBee's fast-paced setting. Her varied experiences paired with her positive spirit and wit have worked extremely well as she developed effective working relationships with her clients, the creative team and vendors - all while becoming a trusted advisor and leader. Fun, yet professional in every sense of the word, she is a joy and an asset to any team.

Michele Bourdon Keeffe, BuzzBee

Toy is definitely the go-to person if you are thinking about truly enhancing customer experience. She is extremely passionate about customers and partners. Toy helped us launch a Relationship Marketing program focused on CRM online customers. She constantly strived to drive balance between corporate messaging and customer perceptions. One of Toy's biggest strengths is her copy writing skills - she has a flair for simplifying communication and ensuring the message resonates with the intended audience. I would highly recommend Toy for her work ethic, customer vision and commitment to excellence.

Anusha Rangaswamy, Microsoft

Toy was my marketing client on Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Toy was one of my favorite people to work with because she is an expert at maintaining a positive experience for the customer. She continued to ask questions and push for the clearest and most relevant messaging for the customer, while keeping things simple. Toy has a natural ability to see the bigger picture and keep the rest of the team on track. Other qualities include great sense of humor, high integrity and positive attitude.

Jacci Johnson, POSSIBLE

Toy is a versatile storyteller. Not only does she make it really easy for the audience to understand the subject matter, but she also has a knack for establishing an emotional connection through her communication so that the audience cannot help but care about it. When assigned a topic with which she is unfamiliar, she researches it tenaciously on a short timeframe. I'm not one to play politics so I especially appreciate that she is a straight shooter. Working with Toy was a privilege.

Chin One Chan, Marketing Consultant

I wondered, what does it take to be a fabulous content strategist? I discovered this great article that helped me think about how I actually measured up. I also wrote a follow-up column on what I felt the article was missing. Below, you’ll find my self evaluation of those top six skills (in black), plus the six additional skills (in orange) I believe complete my toolkit.

  • 0%
    ORGANIZATION AND MULTITASKING
  • 0%
    SOLID WRITING SKILLS AND DETAIL ORIENTED
  • 0%
    INTERPERSONAL AND MOTIVATIONAL
  • 0%
    ANALYTICAL AND INTERPRETIVE MIND
  • 0%
    FLEXIBILITY
  • 0%
    CONSENSUS BUILDING
  • 0%
    TRUSTWORTHY
  • 0%
    PLANFUL AND EXPECTATION SETTING
  • 0%
    AUDIENCE STEWARD
  • 0%
    FORWARD THINKING
  • 0%
    BUDGET CONSCIOUS
  • 0%
    SCRAPPY

Musings of a StoryholicMusings of a Storyholic

Celebrating the Art of Content Strategy
Keeping the Audience’s Attention Through Tie-ins

I am a sucker for anything cinematic. Yes, I’m in love with the ongoing story of a TV show or the big reveal of a movie. But, I’m equally entranced by the marketing behind them. How do they capture our attention in the first place? Then how do they keep our attention and our engagement?

Consider the tie-in. Tap into what the audience already knows and loves. Yet, don’t hesitate to give them a sneak peak of what they can expect.

So the Quest Begins

I I’m on a quest. I want to become the reigning queen of content strategy. The Oprah of content, if you will.

This journey has included years of roles that have shown me the good, the bad and the ugly of content strategy, development and management. And within my research, I stumbled upon an article outlining what’s required to become a content strategy heavyweight. I believe all points were solid, but I’m here to call out what they missed.