The wonderful folks at #CSPDX and the Thetus Corporation hosted Jack Molisani (former engineer-turned-tech comm leader and of LavaCon fame) today in PDX, where he spoke about building better business cases for content initiatives. His talk outlined key elements that any content and web professional can utilize when trying to sell management and clientele on content initiatives.

Rather than pushing solely to increase efficiency, improve awareness and other motivational, “softer” concepts, we can align our best practices with concepts around cost avoidance, saving lost revenue and identifying methods of revenue generation in our pitches.

A bit of the presentation reminded me a lot of Scott Abel’s perspective, where you need to come to terms that stakeholders and management may “not give a s**t about your best practices.” You have to solve for their money challenges alongside planning, producing and managing great content.

There was a ton of chocolate, a bit of OMGWTF and the declaration of Molisani’s personal mantra of pitching business cases for content that’s current, germane and useful.

The big takeaways from Molisani's great talk:

"Don't assume that leadership gets it."

Your manager or CEO’s job isn’t to champion great, sustainable content or advance beautiful, resonant design. That’s our job. Their job is to keep the company alive. That’s really important for you if you want to get paid and keep the lights on.

Presented as a rule of thumb, Molisani recommended that we rememberer that anyone who’s managing us, a department or running an organization will have some kind of objective around increasing revenue and lowering costs (direct and indirect). Content professionals can use this as a component for any content initiative.

Wanting to pitch that customer-facing, educational content plan? Tie to it lowering costs of sale and increasing potential revenue. Is the support content for your crew antiquated, increasing the time it takes them to help customers at your call center? It may be time to show how a content audit and rework can speed up support calls and lower costs of servicing.

Empowering our cases for content requires data. Some of us have plenty of it to work with, while some of us need to look a little harder for resonant stats to help us sell our projects. This leads into the next big takeaway…

"Do you own research."

It’s nice when we find industry numbers that back up a project that we’d like to pitch to management. When those numbers aren’t readily available, or maybe your particular initiative doesn’t have a lot of documentation or case study around it, it can be difficult to create a business case for your content.

Molisani suggests that if the latter is our case, we just have to do our own research. Sure, it may take a little more time to gain viable numbers to base a business case from, but at least it’s a step further than trying to sell the initiative on promises of “efficiency and productivity” alone.

ASIDE: Molisani plucked at my heartstrings because I accomplished this same thing at my own employer. We didn’t have the means of collecting a particular type of data to fuel a content initiative that I wanted to run. So, alongside an IT colleague, we pitched the case to build a better lead intake system (so I could get the data that I needed).

My friendly, patient IT colleague and I built out an internal lead intake solution that helped us reduce support costs while collecting the data that I needed for my future project. Solving for our lack of data allowed us to identify an additional content initiative that helped us lower costs.

I’d say it’s a win and an even bigger one if I can sell this upcoming initiative from the data we were able to collect. /ASIDE

Collecting your organizational data can be a challenge as well. I know of peers who aren’t allowed to peek at company data that could help push their content initiatives due to contractual obligations to the clients they help or other binding, litigious things. While some organizations aren’t allowed to share data with employees perhaps due to legal obligation, an organization that doesn’t want to share data with employees out of fear or insecurity is heavily missing out on opportunities.

Perhaps there’s building a business case for telling your manager or employer not to be a chicken?

Food for thought: Operations Managers as BFFs.

From the kind of success content cases that Molisani references, I see a lot of potential value in strengthening alliances with operational staff in an organization. Operations teams are often looking for ways to create new processes and methodologies across departments to increase efficiency while eliminating obstacles for employees.

Operational staff could be a great source of insight for where the organization may be experiencing challenges in terms of increasing revenue and lowering costs. Creating strong relationships with these colleagues (if your organization has them) can yield tremendous momentum since you have a new source of data and an advocate for your future content initiative.

Big thanks to Jack Molisani, #CSPDX and the Thetus Corporation for another awesome event. See you all next time!

Oh yeah– to learn more about LavaCon, or to register last-minute to join in on the digital strategies fun, check out their site. For those of you going to the Content Strategies Workshops, see you there!