I kicked off LavaCon 2012 by listening to Alan J. Porter (@alanjporter) of 4JS Group speak about his five ways to make executives love content development and content strategy. His methods revealed that a lot of the process is from within, beginning with how the content professional views the self.

Porter asked the crowd, “Ok, what do you do?” When asked “what kind of problem do you solve?” some of the audience were caught a little off-guard. I think the point there was Porter’s way to drive home the first element of his presentation, which was to “Change your Attitude.” It was an emphasis on looking at what you do with more of a problem solving flavor to pushing that same goal with our content pitches.

Porter let the crowd in on his five ways to make executives appreciate content as a strategic asset.

Changing attitudes. Porter ordered the crowd to stop referring to themselves as “just a [fill in the title here].” He influenced the crowd to believe that we’re not just writers, designers and developers. He wanted us to own what we do– we’re content developers and the people likely to build a sustainable content strategy for the organization.

By changing attitudes on who we are and what we do, we can use this same attitude in positioning our content initiatives. They’re no longer just projects for the website, or for support content and whatnot. Anything we do should be seen as a business asset.

Realize what it is that you do. Porter talked about identifying what we bring to the table. And then, identifying what colleagues bring to the table. If there are holes, pitch for filling them with specific skills and talents. The synergy of well-created teams can bring all sorts of boons to the content initiative, allowing you to pitch a case to bring value to the business.

Tell a good story. A little cliche, but true. Porter took it deeper than the blue sky, popular marketing blog trope by encouraging us to speak the language of our audience. This meant creating visuals and supplementing points with data that the audience, our management, understands.

[Side note: One of the #CSWPortland sessions featured Tosca Rosso of SUBTXT, who gave a fantastic presentation on delivering results with visual storytelling. Try and hunt it down somewhere. I’ll get to that write up at some point soon.]

Offer services for fun and profit. This was a bit looser of a point, but the gist seemed to be to get so good and efficient at what you do that you can not only generate a profit for your department, but also provide the service outward, to other departments or even markets, to drive even more profit from your content initiatives. Porter encouraged us to go beyond “being overhead.” He wanted us to become profit centers to demonstrate our value.

Find an executive sponsor. Rather than trying to sell the entirety of your leadership on a content initiative, Porter wanted us to seek the sponsorship of just one executive. Porter encouraged us to inform, pitch and influence an executive that can become not just a head nod, but a full-blown buy-in for your vision.

The biggest takeaway in my opinion:

Porter’s five elements can become a path toward ultimate content initiative success. Each node is also a benchmark to achieve smaller wins. Those are quite important.

Kristina Halvorson once told me to collect as many small wins as possible at my smaller organization. She recommended it because it leads to momentum, which leads to more trust, more dollars, more problem solving for the organization. It worked in my case in the last year. I definitely felt the same vibe from Porter.

I strongly believe that Porter’s “five-step plan” is a great way at cultivating momentum and can help any organization of any size start pushing content initiatives in the right direction. It really does begin with that first step of changing our attitudes.

We’re no longer just writers. We’re content developers.