Content Creation From Theory to Practice


By Marli Mesibov

Day Two at Confab: Theories about content strategy are all well and good, but how do you turn those theories into practice? In the past 12 hours at Confab we’ve discussed three clear strategies to implement theories in a practical way.

Create Personas

The theory: Personas are these fictional user descriptions that user researchers create and pass to content strategists, in order to help them create content.

The practice: As a content strategist you should work with the user researchers (or your content/marketing team if you don’t have any researchers) to come up with the right questions for creating the most relevant personas. In addition to the typical user personas, create a design persona — a description of your brand as if it were a person, which can help establish the voice of your content.

What kinds of questions should you consider, when creating a design persona? Relly Annett-Baker suggests asking:

  1. What are the brand differentiators?
  2. What ARE you vs what are you NOT?
  3. What are your values?
  4. What do people quote your brand as saying?

By having both types of personas, you can keep your overall brand and your feature list accurate.

Use VIVID Thinking

The theory: Visual, Verbal, Interdependent (VIVID) Thinking tells us that copy isn’t the only way. If you have a great idea, you should be able to represent it visually as well as verbally. What’s more, images are more memorable and more powerful than words alone. People remember visuals!

The practice: Dan Roam, in his keynote speech Be Vivid: How to Make Content Work – Even When Words Don’t gave some suggestions on how to get beyond just copy:

  1. Sketch an image for every idea you have – it should be simple and recognizable
  2. Determine the form of your idea; it will help simplify the content
  3. Target your idea – who is it designed for?
  4. For more suggestions from Dan Roam on Vivid thinking, read chapter seven of his book, Blah Blah Blah

Identify Key Priorities

The theory: There’s this magic layer of content strategy that takes the ideas and the data, and “bakes” them into content and deliverables. How does that happen, exactly?

The practice: You can make it happen by following a checklist as you get started on any project:

  • Get different team members (or in a large company, different teams) to have lunch or coffee together. Once you get them talking casually, start to focus their conversation on the upcoming project. Listen for their shared goals and what they have to learn from one another.
  • After the ice is broken, have a more formal meeting to establish key priorities and goals. Be sure to include final decision makers in the meeting, to curtail long debates or unproductive discussions.
  • Keep the high priorities and goals in everyone’s sight. Once the core goals are established, every new idea can be measured against them.

More to Come!

Tomorrow’s sessions focus on SEO and Analytics, so check back for one more recap, more great strategies, and a focus on the quantitative aspects of Content Strategy!

For even more Confab gems, check out 10 things to make web writing better and Joe Baz’s experience from last year.

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