Small organisation wants big content

Small dog with a big bone

We’ve* recently had several very small organisations request proposals for content-heavy and multi-media rich online solutions. When I say small, we’re talking 2 to 3 people teams who are already stretched in getting their core admin and management tasks done. There seems to be the assumption that an amazing website that features video, audio, podcasts, blogs, news, Facebook, Twitter, and all the other social networking buttons, (yes, it’s a long list, and they’re asking for all of it) will somehow make things easier. Who’s going to produce, moderate, manage and maintain all that content?

Granted, multi-media enhanced websites can be amazing, and well-placed social-sharing buttons can be an absolute boon but, whilst we certainly do want to win the work, even in pitching for it, my alarm bells are ringing.  It’s not to say that a small organisation can’t have a happy marriage with a big-content website. I do know of a project (with podcasts, downloads, videos, Twitter and a load of copy content) that manages really well with a team of just 2, and sometimes 4, (obviously dedicated) staff. I suppose some of my job, as a content strategist, is making sure that the chemistry is there to make the ‘marriage’ work and being really honest if it’s not.

For a recent pitch, I drafted the following section, specifically to address the multi-media content dilemma, and gave it the title, “Excellent content makes for an excellent website”. Whilst this section might not stay quite as it’s written for the proposal and whilst it will probably be extended upon, I thought it might be interesting to share.

I do wonder, how y’all out there are pitching for these ‘small-company-wants-big-media’ jobs? We can’t be the only ones finding them.

I sure think it can’t be a case of promising the world  then either back-peddling during production or building something which (fingers crossed) the poor things will be able to maintain?

So here’s the section:

Excellent content makes for an excellent website

Digital technology advances and content hosting/sharing websites such as Vimeo, YouTube,  iTunes, Libsyn (the list goes on) are providing increasing opportunities for the relatively easy and cost-effective presentation of multi-media content. To take advantage of the tendency for online users to gather around and spread word about these websites, more and more organisations are looking to present their core offerings in combination with these forms.

At the same time, web users are growing increasingly used to engaging with a broad content offering, whether it be audio, video, supporting documents, or the ability to instantly share what they’ve found through social networking sites.

If successfully done, multi-media sites can encourage users back and, in doing so, increase the possibility of impulse purchasing. However, when the core offering of an organisation is not audio and visual media production, development of a multi-media website must be carefully considered.

It is here that a content strategy is enormously valuable in making sure that the content fulfils the business objectives of the organisation and speaks to its audience. It is also of primary importance that content maintenance needs of the website matches the available resources and skills of the organisation: The most incredible multi-media site can fall flat if it’s content is not professionally produced (depending on the organisations context and brand) and regularly updated, shared, or commented on.

… It looks a little spare sitting out here but works quite well in the context of a proposal. I expect that, judging by the number of organisations that want to get in on the multi-media game, I might be pulling this one out a fair bit. It’s a piece to be perfected. Comments welcome.

* The royal ‘we’ being Exploded View and I. I regularly team up with them on projects.


  1. Great writeup! I felt some deja vu…

    I’ve found myself in the same situation a few times — we catch the vision, design a great framework of a site for a client, and then cringe as they struggle to find resources to create new content or even curate the old content.

    For this reason I’m adding to my proposals words to the effect of “we will help you with your marketing by creating a bunch of content for you in the process of designing your site, and then we will schedule reviews (where we offer to do more of the same as needed).”

    It’s going to stretch my own resources, but if they’re willing to pay for it, I’m willing to be part of the creation of a website that starts out with great content and then keeps being great. Moreso than a site that starts out with tons of ambition and then steadily fails to engage visitors.

    I’d rather be associated with an overall awesome experience than with just the extraordinary web design part of a so-so experience.

  2. Hi Marc,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    I sense that this issue is going to become a regular challenge for those of us who develop websites for enthusiastic small (and sometimes one-man-band) organisations. The bigger companies can often afford to consult with a content strategist, have a dedicated content team, or are at least able to gear their marketing/PR departments to take on web-related content tasks, it’s the smaller fish that have my attention right now.

    In writing a more detailed response to you I found myself enthusing about working with small organisations to produce launch content that matches their authentic voice so that it is more-easily maintainable (in-house) and more-naturally consistent. As my response grew, I realised that it was starting to look like a potential blog post. A little more editing and I might be able to post it. Many thanks for the inspiration. I’ll drop you a line when it’s up.

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