Should You Find a Content Writer or Should You Find a Content Partner

finding-a-content-writer-or-a-content-partner

Executive summary: Many startups and small businesses look for content support outside their organization. This blog discusses how to find a content writer and the advantages of working with a content partner (a content development firm) instead.

Reading time: < 3 minutes.

Let us begin with the assumption that you feel that your needs can be met by a content writer, with a couple of years of experience. In this case, finding a writer has three parts:

  • Understand the factors that drive the selection process.
  • Decide how to find a writer.
  • And find ways to assess the writer.

Factors that Drive the Selection Criteria

Subject area: It is easy to find writers who write about subjects like fashion, food, movies, and so on. However, it is difficult to find writers who have prior knowledge of emerging areas or content that requires in-depth domain knowledge. The next best thing is to choose someone who can assimilate the subject fast and is good at connecting the umpteen thought processes and knowledge threads.

Quality: You also got to decide the level of quality. Do you need content that is ok or content that is of the highest standards? Should the content be persuasive or just factual? Remember, quality has a positive correlation with your budget.

Your timeline: How soon do you want the content developed?

Find a Content Writer

Professional web design companies work with in-house or freelance writers. But not sure if you get to work with the same writer(s) if you have a long-term project or multiple projects.

There are dedicated content development companies. Choose content development firms when your content needs are ongoing, or you need the content of the highest quality. Content development firms develop expertise in your domain quickly and enable you to focus on your business. Unless you are asking for the content for a sunrise sector, probably they hold expertise in your domain already. The firms also take away the need to hire, train, and supervise writers. If writing is not one of your core business areas, you are always better off hiring a content development firm. (Disclaimer: I am the Founder and CEO of Lotus Tech, a content development company.)

Alternatively, you can go to platforms like Fiverr to find freelancers. You can also search for writers on LinkedIn and Facebook groups. When you choose this path, selection, delivery, quality, availability are some of the areas you will spend your time on.

Finding a writer raises the next question: how do you assess a writer? You can look for two aspects, at the least:

Evaluate the Content Writer

How long has he been writing?

How many different areas has he served?

Does he have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in language/journalism/writing? In India, many writers are trained on the job. If they do not have their first degree or master’s in an attendant field, experience plays a huge role.

How much of his work exists in the public domain? Does he publish blogs? What is the quality and variety of subjects of those blogs? Read the blogs.

Is the writer aware of what is happening around? A note of caution: Don’t expect an in-depth knowledge in an area that the writer has not studied yet. If the writer is aware of the developments around and if he is a good writer, he can always connect the dots and get you a well-rounded copy.

Also, check how well the writer understands the audience and marketing. This understanding is central to writing website content, blogs, and any other marketing collateral.

Great writers are always prolific readers. Check their reading interests.

Selecting the right content partner is of great importance. In the age of the Internet, your business can afford to transact 24/7. Digital (read ‘an online presence and the ability to sell online’) is the means to do so. And the success of digital depends on design and communication. This is why great design and writing matter. Consequently, your content partner matters as well.

How Can We Help

Visit the Marketing section of our website to know more about how we can support your content needs. Also, you can call us for a 1-hour consultation.

—By Surya Prabha Vallae

Creative Brief: Briefing an Agency for Corporate Video Production

Creative Brief - Briefing an Agency for Corporate Video Production

Executive Summary: Corporate video is about making the viewers feel that they ‘know’ your organization and recognize it for something.  This blog enables you to guide the creative agency slated to produce your corporate video.

Readership: Leadership teams and teams in-charge of marketing communications.

Reading time: 3 min.

The Genesis

Apparently, the first question. Why is the video being made?  Why now? What long term and short term objectives have created the need for a video? Your answer to this question gives the context of the video.

The Positioning

After watching some corporate videos, you are left with a ‘so…?” kind of question. This question is bound to pop up in your mind if the video recounts facts and states its businesses but doesn’t position the company.

The Competition

The creative agency needs a backdrop to understand your company better. Let them know who your competitors are and the product or service areas that you compete in. This knowledge influences your positioning in a big way.

The History

The company’s history is vital to position the organization appropriately. A company can go there only from where it is. And where it is tied to where it was. This chain of knowing extends all the way to the inception of the company.

Also, if a corporate video was shot in the past, let the agency know what you think of it and how you want the new one to be better, or even different.

The Perception

An organization is not about profits and markets. It is fundamentally about serving peoples’ needs. An organization comes into being when people become part of it. So, help the agency understand the perceptions of people associated with the organization. Your employees, leadership team, partners, vendors, and customers — all of them form the ecosystem of people who help your organization to be and become. Understanding how they perceive the organization is fundamental to a corporate identity.

The Coordinator

Select an empathetic, communicative, and patient person to coordinate with the agency. Such person will be very supportive and help the agency give its best.

The Conclusion

Corporate video is about making the viewers feel that they know you and are comfortable in the knowing. Support the agency towards this goal. Since the agency is an outside entity, it is bound to take a little while to soak your context. The more supportive and involved you are, the better the result.

— By Surya Prabha Vallae

Differentiating an App

Lotus Tech - 3 factors in differentiating an app

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Summary: Differentiating an app is important. Users love your app when it offers value, experience, and support.

After studying many shopping apps on Google Play in India, I remain convinced that there are just three factors that differentiate a consumer app:

  1. The value created for the customer.
  2. The experience that delivers the value.
  3. The support that delivers the experience.

Differentiating an App Through Value Creation

Lotus Tech - 3 factors in differentiating an app - value creation

Apps create value in many ways. Some reduce the time to do a task. Some help us remember. Others help us save money. And a select few even change the way we live. Uber and Amazon have achieved the cult status (and valuations) because they have brought in new ways of doing things.

Value creation is the most difficult part even to define, let alone to get it right. I would rather say it is like the sunrise. Even if you sit in the darkest corner of your home with your eyes closed, you know that the sun rose. When you get it right, you just know. And so does your team. Well, at least most of them.

When you want to create value, do something that is 10x times better than what is. Better still, create a new way of doing something that is fragmented otherwise. Such goals put you in a rarified field where the competition is zero. Even if you fail at achieving the 10x effect and can get only to 6x or 5x, you have still left your competition far behind.

Value creation helps you become the market leader and transcend price wars.

Building the Experience that Delivers the Value

Lotus Tech - 3 factors in differentiating an app - Experience

The experience of using the app delivers the value to the customer.

If you perceive an app as a story being told, value makes the story, and the experience makes the narration. The experience should reach the customer in her own words, at her level. Else it won’t reach her at all. In the world of app making, this translates into bringing the product to the user’s level of understanding and her universe and not the opposite.

App users ‘perceive’ the experience in many forms: the in-app content, the ease of signing up, logging in, doing a task, how it makes their lives better, and how well the app integrates the digital and physical worlds, and many more.

There are two parts to deliver the experience: the decision about what makes a great customer experience and the technology that brings the envisioned experience into reality. My shopping apps experience says that we are great in using technology but are yet to reach the same level of sophistication in envisioning the experience a customer should have.

The Support that Enriches the Experience

Lotus Tech - 3 factors in differentiating an app - Support

We cherish people who stay by our side when we are in trouble. Don’t we? Then, isn’t it desirable that we have a great customer service practice?

No matter how much research, care, and vision you pour into making an app, your users are bound to seek help. And the customer support is the first touch point for many customers once they use the app.

While businesses have valid reasons to minimise the customer support costs, a better approach is to invest decent time in product making to create a very robust product that requires few customer calls. And then create a support team that understands the product as much as the design team.

I was very concerned to find that for the popular apps, the ratio of 5-star rating to 1-star rating is approximately 4:1. In other words, a quarter of the reviews are rating the app as worthy of 1-star.  Even if you discount some ratings as fake or unwarranted, the situation is not something app makers can be happy about.

When I read through many of the reviews, I noticed 3 major challenges:

  1. The product design is faulty causing customer inconvenience leading to bad reviews. Some basic questions, such as “what if the shopkeeper or vendor does not update the inventory,” were never thought through by the app maker.
  2. The app maker doesn’t reply to the reviews on Google Play store. It is important that the app maker address all reviews appropriately, more so those comments that accompany 1-star rating. Replying to reviews gives the app maker an opportunity to thank for the good reviews and explain his case for the 1-star reviews. By replying, the app maker can work on retaining the customer and establish trust in the business.
  3. There are any number of app reviews from users complaining that customer support agents don’t understand the problem. Isn’t it our job to ensure that someone who understands the product well answers those calls? Shouldn’t we be making sure that we ensure that a certain amount of education is imparted to the support staff even before they attend the first call? Isn’t it in our interest to recruit staff who are empathetic? Aren’t we responsible for laying down policies and procedures to escalate those issues that the support staff can’t answer themselves?

Some of the lesser known apps have a much better review ratio of 15:1 (5-star to 1-star rating). The point that they are not popular probably indicates that the marketing dollars have a key role to play in an app’s popularity.

Conclusion

Did you notice that all the three factors are utterly human-centric?

— By Surya Prabha Vallae

 

Every Business Benefits from Content Strategy

Lotus-Tech-Every-Business-Needs-Content-Strategy

Word count: 392

Reading time: 4 minutes

When a business has a shopfront, the salesperson can speak a local language and turn a lead into a customer or retain an existing customer. However, in a digital world, things work differently. If you set up a great looking website with content that is not half as good, users leave the website for a competitor’s website that has articulate content carefully structured to meet the customer’s needs.

You must note that content strategy is not about writing or publishing content but about how content is structured, presented, articulated to help the customer’s digital journey with the brand.

Does Content Strategy Impact Your Sales

Some days ago, I walked into a supermarket (deli) to buy a light bulb. I wanted to buy a bulb that gives the highest lumens for the lowest wattage. (Lumens indicate how bright the light is.)

Trust me. Only one brand’s light bulbs had this information right on the packs in boldface. I didn’t have to search for the information I needed. And there was just one light bulb left on the shelf. The other popular brands either did not have the info or hid it somewhere in the fine print.

It only shows that these other brands have not anticipated what the customer wants to see at the time of buying. As the society becomes more educated and more discerning, the need for accurate information built in anticipation of your customers’ needs is expected and rewarded by your customers. And this is what content strategy is all about.

What content is required to fulfill the needs and exceed the expectations of your customer? What content helps them travel down a decision path to engage with your brand successfully while buying the brand’s products and services? How do we make available the content, measure its effectiveness, adjust it, and make it useful for the user and beneficial for the buyer and the seller? This is what makes up the content strategy of an organization.

The questions and the answers raised to chisel your content strategy vary, based on the industry and the products and services. But at the heart of the content strategy is an uncompromising effort to anticipate, meet, and exceed the information needs of the customer.

Whether brands recognize this fact or not, today every brand needs an effective content strategy.