Over the last 9 weeks of this series of Not Quite Content I've been asked a few.
You might not have noticed, but this season has been focused in and around content strategy.
It's a big, constantly moving, sometimes intangible topic.
And there are things you want to know about it.
If you were starting a new business, knowing what you know now, where would you start with content?
Voice guidelines to play with.
Messaging to experiment with.
Website. Website. Website.
Because I was me, and I know me, and I was writing for me, when I started my business I didn't take much time to think about the values of my business, the voice I'd use, or the messages I'd share. I thought I would just instinctively know it.
I kind of do.
But if I were starting again, I'd take even just a few hours to write some things down.
Knowing your brand personality, values, voice, and what makes you different, doesn't lock you into a box. It gives you things to play with. And when you're starting, play is important. It's what lets you see what people respond to...and what falls flat.
Even later in business, we need to remember to play.
In support of play, Ami from Damn Write recently shared on Instagram,
"There's this sense in over on the conversion/direct response/sales at all costs side of the marketing room that anything not backed up by data and research and results should be forgotten about.
That brand voice and creativity should give way to the almighty conversion rate.
And y'know what? It's reeeeeally fucking boring (and so's the copy it produces)."
So, of course, I needed to comment,
"Also, if you don’t play, you don’t get good data, because you’re not trying new things."
So if I were starting again tomorrow, I'd create a baseline, then try new things. I'd play. Just like I do every day.
How do you work on the big strategy piece, while still maintaining some progress? It feels like we have to stop for a long time before we can really do anything.
This isn't an easy question to answer.
I'm not a big fan of stop and wait. But it can feel like that's what I advocate.
In some cases, stop and wait can mean 5 minutes, a day, 2 weeks. If it's longer than that, there are always things you can do in the meantime (caveat: doing the things in the meantime can mean pushing back focus on your strategy).
There are always things you can do around the edges. The danger is in always working around a strategy, and never fully bedding it down.
It's not impossible to manage, but it's tiring.
Feeling like you're rethinking every move, second-guessing decisions. Spending hours in stakeholder management, alignment and re-alignment rather than having people working to a single goal. Time lost in approvals and re-work, because the guidelines were unclear.
It's incredibly difficult to reach a maintenance phase, where you can catch your breath, measure what's working, and make considered change.
The actual 'how' of balancing strategy and progress depends on a lot of factors, and it's difficult to give clear answers, but hopefully this clear as mud answer supports why it's an important thing to do.
Do I really have to [insert a - usually social media related - content task here]?
Point at blank spaces on Reels. Be on Instagram. Dance on TikTok. Send an email every week.
You don't have to do anything you don't feel comfortable with, or don't think supports your vision for your brand.
But - depending on your audience and what they need from you at any time - you may need to find ways to make things more comfortable, or better support your brand.
The only thing you really need to do, is think about your audience and what they need today.
For example, recently working with a new service-based business, we began thinking about the immediate jobs their first clients and referral partners might have. One job story might look like,
When I am notified that this person has started their own business
I need to know if that changes how they can help me
So I can decide if I want to work with them again
If we think through this job, we might start to understand that the audience needs to be able to get a grasp on the services being offered, any price changes, or changes to who would handle their work.
None of this screams 'make reels'.
But it might lead us to:
- Focus on writing service descriptions first.
- Develop a service or pricing sheet that can be sent with the notification of the new business.
- Share those service descriptions as social media captions.
- Put them on Instagram stories, and save them as a highlight.
- Update LinkedIn profiles and do some social activities to help people get familiar with the team and their approach.
It's less about asking 'do I follow the trend?' and more about asking 'how can this help me meet audience need?'