Content Strategy – Are You Asking the Right Questions?

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Molly Marsh


The power and benefit of design thinking in association conferences is well documented. But, as associations, are we taking design thinking and applying it to other areas of our education and professional development offerings as well? 

Using design thinking and a purposeful approach to education planning helps the association ensure that not only conferences and events, but content marketing initiatives, virtual education, publications, resources, and other ongoing professional development offerings advance strategic objectives and build engagement across the organization. A comprehensive content strategy means everyone on your association’s team can be laser-focused on the desired outcomes of your education program. Members (and prospective members) get more of what they need, and you’ve saved time and energy in the process. Win!

Here are the critical questions to ask yourself when setting up a content strategy for your organization:

  • Who is your audience?
    • Clearly defining your audience(s) is critical to establishing an effective content strategy. As the “Amazon” experience of customized recommendations and getting the right information in front of people at the right time is more the rule than the exception, taking the time to identify and understand your target audience (members, prospective members, the association, sponsors, other stakeholders, etc.) is critical to developing the right educational offerings for them.
  • What is the need?
    • Once you know who you’re reaching out to, you’re able to identify their preferences, pain points and areas of need. What problems are they trying to solve? Where do they need additional help? What will make them successful in a year, five or even ten? A content strategy should have clearly stated goals and outcomes with associated metrics to gauge success in achieving those goals. When you know where you’re headed and what your members, the organization and other stakeholders need, then you can tailor your effort to delivering on those needs. 
  • What are the best delivery models or channels for the content?
    • Some content lends itself to micro-learning through short videos or blog posts, others may need longer format in-person training sessions. Good content strategy allows learning outcomes and objectives to drive selection of the right delivery model. In addition, research on the science of learning indicates that various methods of presenting the information over time is the best way to cement learning. So, taking topics, issues or content elements and selecting 2-3 different delivery models over time is more likely to lead to real learning and behavior change. 
  • What does success mean?
    • Did you meet the need? Were the objectives of your organization advanced? Taking the time to review your success measures and analyze feedback from users ensures that you’re able to adapt and improve your programs over time. 
Molly Marsh Cropped Photo
Molly Marsh

Degrees and Credentials:
Certified Meeting Professional (CMP); Bachelor of Arts, Transylvania University

Association Management Professional Since:

What inspires you about your work?
I have a passion for the world of professional associations and the essential support, resources and connections they provide for members. I am an adult learning and meeting design nerd –I am continually inspired by the chance to design face-to-face meetings and innovate content strategy with new techniques, technologies and ideas.

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