Does your association have a formal education content strategy, or do you merely throw some proverbial spaghetti at the fridge and see what sticks?

If the informal poll at the beginning of Debra Zabloudil’s ASAE Great Ideas’ session titled, “Get Your Content Strategy On” is indicative of the sector as a whole, most associations are in the pasta business.

According to Zabloudil, CAE, FACHE, President and CEO of The Learning Studio, Inc., content is our most valuable asset and should be treated as such. Association leaders should view their organizations as clearinghouses and repositories of what’s important to their industries. And, the delivery of this valuable content should not be episodic, but very intentional, deliberate. To succeed at this and manage your content as a valuable business asset, says Zabloudil, you need a content strategy.

Here’s Zabloudil’s 11-step content strategy process:

1. Conduct Member Interviews and Gather Quantitative Survey Results to determine what content areas you should focus on. Pick your top five areas. This number is manageable, implementable, and measureable. Your top content areas should be important to the industry and be knowledge your members need.

2. Appoint “Content Champion” and Internal Team. You need a point person to guide the process and keep things moving. Your team, which should consist of representatives from a whole host of areas within your association, will need to determine what vehicles are in play, content frequency, who the audiences are you’re targeting, content tone, how often the group will come together, key dates, and measurements.

3. Determine Content Campaign Timeline. A one-year timeline works well. You can launch at the beginning of your calendar or fiscal year, execute throughout the year, report on it regularly, and then measure your results.

4. Determine Audience and Segmentation Issues. Don’t take a broad brush approach to content delivery. Do you have members who are new to the profession? If so, what do they need to know? What about the mid-careerists and senior careerists? If content is king, then context is queen. You need to appeal to each of your buyer/learner personas differently based on their orientation, objectives, and obstacles.

5. Establish Baseline Knowledge. Conduct pre-program knowledge assessments; know where your learners are before you deliver content, so you can measure your progress later.

6. Determine All Vehicles. You should be using a wide variety of modalities – from lengthy two-day programs to bite-sized three-minute videos; peppering your messaging from the stage to video to written word. Put your content out there in a variety of formats that please the masses, then reinforce, reinforce, reinforce.

7. Deploy and Execute Content. Use a scheduled, deliberate approach; a variety of well-paced touch points across all vehicles. And, consider all of your audiences.

8. Monitor Progress. And, make adjustments where needed. Ask yourself, “How are we doing against our strategy? Are we rolling out when and what we said we would? Are members engaging? Are we moving the needle?”

9. Continue Communications and Outreach to Members. Keep the conversation alive – between the content team, their staffs, and members. Constantly involve your members.

10. Measure Progress and Knowledge Outcomes. Measuring progress and outcomes is far more meaningful than just measuring satisfaction. When you can tell your audiences that you’ve raised your members’ knowledge level by X percent, you can prove your content is having a huge impact on membership. Make sure to use the same questions and scales you used during pre-assessment so you’re comparing apples to apples.

11. Communicate Outcomes. Tell members, “This is what we started out to do and this is what we got to. We’re doing what we said we were going to do.” Use all avenues to share, including your website, conference, journals, everywhere. By sharing outcomes, you’re helping members justify their memberships and advance their careers.