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Posts Tagged ‘Simon Mathews’

Op-Ed: Let’s Play Stakeholder Roulette

After a month’s absence, Simon Mathews, currently chief strategy officer at West Coast shop, Extractable, who’s also worked on the strategy side at the likes of Isobar and Molecular during his career, has returned. As per usual, it’s best he explain his latest opus. Take it away, sir.

I do a lot of stakeholder interviews. That is the first part of almost any engagement when we are learning about a client’s business and digital challenges and trying to delve into how digital may be able to drive new opportunities for them.

I keep a log of every stakeholder I’ve ever interviewed. This week with our new solar energy client the stakeholder interview counter ticked over 1,200.  Yes, I’ve interviewed 1,200 people across hundreds of companies and dozens of sectors and the sessions have ranged from incredibly helpful to accusatory, “why are you asking me this”, and pretty much everything in-between.

Besides memorizing every piece of conference call hold music ever, some useful repeating patterns have emerged across my sample set of stakeholders. So, here is my personal guide to some of the major ‘types’ of stakeholder we see across businesses and more importantly, how to get the best from them, to help drive the project forward.

Yes, it’s stakeholder roulette time!

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Op-Ed: What is Content Strategy, Really?

Alas, our usual Extractable contributor Simon Mathews is sitting this month out, but we gladly welcome this rather epic debut from Dana Larson, VP/user experience at the aforementioned San Francisco agency. Larson has spent 20+ years in the biz, holding a wide range of positions including copywriter, CMO, content strategy director and ECD. Seeing as she has some experience in the content strategy field as noted, Larson offers a comprehensive look into what this job exactly entails. Read on.

Recently I was reading a discussion on LinkedIn Groups about whether or not it was a promotion to go from copywriter to content strategist. I asked one of my old colleagues what he thought, and his response was, “I don’t know…what is content strategy, really?” Actually, that’s a good question as I think a lot of people don’t really know what content strategy is. Erin Kissane explains this phenomena in her book, The Elements of Content Strategy, by saying, “In an industry in which the efforts of visual designers, information architects, front-end developers, and content creators can be seen center-stage when a new website launches, content strategy is a fundamentally backstage discipline.” And because content strategists typically work with all of these more visible roles, it can make their role seem even less clear-cut.

I’ll get to just what a content strategist does in a bit, but first let’s set the stage by taking a look at a website that was clearly designed without the aid of a content strategist. I’m kind of at a loss for words at how a renowned organization like Massachusetts Institute of Technology could produce something like the Center for Advanced Visual Studies website. Its haphazard placement of text islands obscured by clouds of floating type combined with random web 2.0 animations is a recipe for digital indigestion. Wow. Go there. Now. Resize the window. Experience the wonder. It’s the site that keeps on giving.


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Op-Ed: Mobile First? No – The Trials and Tribulations of a Stoic Strategist

And let’s start the ball rolling once again with new monthly contributor, Simon Mathews, currently chief strategy officer at West Coast shop, Extractable, and who’ s also worked at the likes of Isobar as well as Molecular on the strategy side during his career. We think the headline explains it all, but not so sure if he’s striking a Zoolander or Hansel pose in this one. 

The pitch was going well. The large team of potential clients, spread two deep around their boardroom table, were engaged and clearly expressing their business needs. I was heading towards the climax of my section on our agency’s strategic approach. I ended my last slide with the crescendo of, “We build data-driven digital experiences,” ready to hand over to our Creative Director.

Scanning the room, a few people looked a little quizzical. The client’s web manager speaks up, “We are thinking of implementing a mobile-first strategy. What do you think?”

Of course, I knew what they meant by ‘mobile first’. They meant that their current mobile experience was poor, and that they think mobile is important to their future. However, from our analysis their desktop, social and mobile were all poor experiences and there was an opportunity to dramatically improve the experience, and outcomes, for their users across any device.

My inner dialog kicked in. The following is what I probably should have shared out loud, but as they say, discretion is the better part of valor.

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