It’s possible — very likely in fact — that the content you are responsible for relies on the content that other people are responsible for (and visa versa). Especially if you are a large organization.
But what happens when their content doesn’t have the quality, tone, or detail that you need?
In an ideal world, you have a process or culture of cooperation and communication between these departments, channels, or brands. But oftentimes, the infrastructure just isn’t there.
Consider This Content Conundrum
Let’s say you are developing website content for SaaS. You are focused on the How It Works section, and you know people are confused about part of the sign-up process. Customer Service covers this in detail, with screenshots. You could link to it, but you hesitate, because the tone is technical, overly detailed, and you are trying to engage and incite action.
Pop Quiz: What Do You Do?
A. Put on your hard hat and boots and do whatever it takes to create the needed company infrastructure.
You’ll start a movement! You’ll talk to all the other departments about your audience needs and potential long-term processes and content changes that will help support the audience across topics, channels, and brands.
B. Quietly work to avoid relying on the other content.
You don’t have time. You’ll take matters into your own hands and write and post your own versions of the content so that you are in complete control.
C. Create related content that does not duplicate and compete, but enhances and supports.
You are a creative problem solver. You’ll figure out a way to answer customer questions your own way, without duplicating content or bothering other departments.
A. Work to create a strong infrastructure. Congrats! You are a natural leader and content wrangler, and this is an ideal solution. It doesn’t matter if you are a content director or a copy writer, a content strategist or an editorial manager, you can start a movement of inter-department content strategy and create a strong user experience across the board! People are the Magic Layer within a content strategy, after all.
But this path may take a while and you may encounter resistance, and you have short-term goals to meet. In conjunction with A, I highly recommend you consider C.
B. Avoid relying on the other content all together. You are in the majority, based on my experiences with large organizations over the last 6 years. This is the easiest solution, and will help avoid sending people away from the sales path, but it can come back to haunt you.
What happens when several departments do this and the audience finds similar information is several places? Doubt. Confusion. Feelings of being lost or overwhelmed. Also search engines may prioritize duplicate content differently than you’d like.
C. Create content that enhances and supports the other content. You must be a highly creative problem-solver, wonderful! This solution avoids creating competing content, while creating something the audience actually needs.
But it’s not a long-term solution and can get awkward in certain situations. I highly recommend you consider A in conjunction with C.
The Best Answer?
Answer A and C together will help you employ the true magic of content strategy!
Here’s How to Make the Magic Happen
Is your company’s content competing with itself? If you are experiencing duplicate content challenges, here’s what to do:
- Step back and consider why the audience needs the other department’s content. Is it to find an answer that you could be solving within your primary messaging, video, or graphics?
- Get into perspective. Where does your content live — on the About page, within How It Works, or on an Application page? Your audience is thinking in those terms and your content should be written (drawn, voiced or animated) from that perspective. Can you create content from this point of view that supports the other channel, but does not duplicate? For example, if the audience concern is cost, do you send them to the Pricing page or do you create something about ROI?
- Spark the Magic Layer of content strategy in your organization. Grab coffee with someone from the other department. Anyone. Share the story of your audience and their challenges. Ask about their audience’s needs and challenges. This is how building a strong infrastructure and cross-channel content strategy begins.
Is your company’s content competing with itself? An outside content strategist can bring new (and neutral) perspectives to your content managers, which can make a big difference in jump starting the process.