The communication chasm between self-identified “numbers people” and “word people” can look like the Grand Canyon, no matter which side you fall on. It’s not just the different jobs; analytical minds and creative minds approach the world in different ways, so every disagreement is compounded. Looking to cultivate a happy, healthy, mutually beneficial relationship with your content people? Here are a few potholes to avoid, and one important question we should all be asking.
“I don’t care if it sounds terrible. The AdWords numbers don’t lie.”
Just because it’s not a number on a spreadsheet doesn’t mean it lacks value. Let your content people win a point once in a while. It’s not losing an argument; it’s placing your trust in your teammate. That may mean that when your content people say a certain keyword phrasing is too awkward to use, or that you can’t write 1,000 words about a dryer hose connector, you should listen to them. While there may be 320 people searching for “hot beverage container,” if you tell me to use that in the 100 words I have on a coffee mug page, I’m going to give you grief about it.
“No one really cares about grammar.”
False. So incredibly, infuriatingly false. Clients aren’t happy with traffic anymore; they want conversions too. If the #1 ranking page sounds like it was written by a 13-year-old, you’re going to drive away customers. Why would a customer entrust their money to someone who can’t manage proper English on a professional site?
“Why does it take so long?” “I put 150 pieces of content in. Can I get that back by Friday?” “It’s only 1,000 words. I can type 50 words a minute — this should only take 20 minutes.”
Quality takes time. A crappily structured site will only leave you more work later on; why would content be any different? It doesn’t matter how long you think it should take. Trust your teammate’s expertise and adjust your expectations. Badgering them will not only NOT get your content back faster, but they won’t be particularly inclined to help you out when you’re under the gun in the future.
“Canonicalization,” “301,” “natural search,” “channel attribution,” “j query,” etc.
Yes, you are terribly smart. You know esoteric terms that I don’t. Yes, I am terribly smart. I know obnoxiously long words no one short of British royalty should use. How about we both promise to not be self-important and just talk like real people? (For example, not using the word esoteric.) That doesn’t mean content people get a pass on knowing what a SERP is or being aware of bots. But maybe just say a page is being redirected?
“I know you’re the expert and you recommended (idea), but I want (completely conflicting idea).”
Say the first half of that sentence. Stop.
Every professional runs into this problem at some point, and it’s maddening across the board. If there is a no-options roadblock, we can adjust, and there should be an open brainstorming meeting during early steps in the process. But, again, trust is key. Torpedoing informed recommendations on a whim is certain to backfire.
“Make it viral.”
Darlin’, if I had the power to dictate what goes viral and what doesn’t, I would be MUCH better paid. Going viral is like being struck by lightning. You can stand in the middle of a lake wrapped in tin foil all day long, but if the weather doesn’t cooperate, you’re out of luck. Ask me to make it funny, make it informative, make it in Comic Sans if you really insist. But there’s nothing I can do to make it go viral.
“Make the color scheme happier.” “The writing is tired.” “I just don’t like it.”
Is the color scheme battling clinical depression? Did the writing just run a 5K? If you want things to be altered, be specific about changes. Do you mean that you want more yellows, or that the colors should be more rich? Do you mean the writer used too many clichés, or is it the length of the paragraphs that’s bothering you? The more specific you can be, the better I can adjust the work to get where you want it.
One question we ALL should be asking, but frequently don’t:
“What do you think?”
In our teammates, we have a built-in resource that approaches problems and possibilities with a completely different mindset than we do. Someone who is predisposed to see things you won’t. Ask them what they think. Soon enough, they’ll come up with a solution you wouldn’t have thought of, or notice a mistake you might have missed. The more people who have your back, the better your work will be.
No single tactic will move the needle anymore; we have got to start working together to get things done. We all need to stop viewing teammates as hurdles and start looking at them as ramps, no matter on which side of the great divide you lie.
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