Here it is, the moment you’ve been waiting for, after a year and a half of studying you’ve arrived in the fourth semester and you’ve found  yourself faced with your final project. 500 hours of work should be dedicated to your master thesis and you begin to contemplate how best to spend them.

In this post, I would like to share with you some insights regarding my current status – where I am, where I want to go and what I have learned from past semesters.

It’s a good choice to start with a feasibility analysis

When I found myself seated in the lecture focused on the preparation of the master thesis – a feasibility analysis – I left the session a bit confused. How was I to bridge the gap between marketing knowledge, such as return of investment, lifetime value of customers and conversion with the an environmental NGO, which  sells the idea of «good conscience» to people who may, or may not feel   connected to nature? Likewise, how was I to consider  «business problems» when the goal of an organisation was to not only generate donations, but to sensitise people to the cause too? It took me a while to see the relationship, but here are my three insights:

  • First insight: Content strategy is about solving a business problem with content. Every organisation has problems they want to solve. It’s your role as content strategist to identify them and to prioritize which need to be solved first.
  • Second insight: Change your mindset. In the session I mentioned above, our teacher talked about an online shop, which was failing. My organisation owns a support platform ,which doesn’t currently perform as well as we had hoped, in particular online conversions are not as high as expected. So what’s the difference between a badly performing online shop and a badly performing support platform? Well you  guessed it, not a lot – I decided that I can use the same approach for my own organisation. Analysis, benchmark  and market research helped me a lot to tackle this particular problem.
  • Third insight: If you don’t know your facts and figures, ask your marketing department. They are experienced, they know how to calculate with expected returns and can assist you in writing your final chapter about lifetime value. How content can help your organisation finally gets a number – and an estimated profit. This number will help you convince other people about their need to invest in your ideas for improvement.

All in all, it turned out that the feasibility analysis was quite a good starting point for my reflections and the further development of my master thesis. It even helped me in so far as that I could use the opportunity to plan my work, which nicely leads me to my next point.

Plan your work – project management isn’t just for fun

In our lecture about project management we learned how to elaborate on “SWOT Analysis” and how to split a huge task into small manageable deliverables, which can be achieved in a certain timeframe. As an  excel addict, I used the opportunity to plan my work using that particular program.

Planning my work gave it a lot of substance and basis when talking with the supervisors. I also included an estimation of my workload in hours, which was very useful  Initially I ended up with a workload of 750 hours and realizing that this was impossible, I decided to streamline and cut down some of my ideas.

I also learnt that it is important to define what you can and what you can’t do and to make this explicitly clear in your papers. My ambition is not to implement a whole content strategy in my organisation. This is far too much and also dependant upon other factors such as implementation, change of management and internal coordination. My goal it is to take the first step with useful deliverables in my content strategy, which can be tested in pilot form. If they turn out to be useful – let’s do more of this. If not – let’s find ways to adapt them.

Take two days off and write your exposé with a look in your backpack of knowledge

The flu was very aggressive in Switzerland in 2018 and exceptionally it was my turn to become sick as well. For five days I enjoyed Netflix & Co and finally arrived at a weekend with two free days and nothing more to do than recover.

I took this chance to write my exposé and to reflect about my hypothesis. But not only this, I also wanted to see, what I already knew and how could this help me with my master thesis. I began to grab my books and laid them all on the table. I read all the table of contents and noted the interesting chapters directly in my draft of the master thesis.

Believe it or not – this was really a good idea. On the one hand, it helped me to gain confidence in the knowledge that I already have, on the other hand, I am now at a point where I know for each chapter where to start with reading and synthesize. So… wish me luck with writing my thesis. But before that, I will go and enjoy my easter holidays.

This could also be of interest to you

Project work 3 – feasibility analysis 

Read more about my colleague Elisabeth’s reflection on feasibility analysis

Learn more about Martin Bred, conversions, return of investments and lifetime value of customers

More about our module on project management