I am a Strategist. I know strategy.
So when my phone rings and it’s a prior client calling, I know it’s for 1 or more of the following 4 reasons. (Side Note: this client happens to be a politician- an incumbent, but this applies to all industries):
A strategy has succeeded. S/he needs more. (Scale Up).
A strategy has failed. S/he needs different. (Lessons Learned).
The game has changed. A strategy, therefore, is irrelevant (Pivot).
Game Over. A strategy, therefore, has expired. (Onward & Upward).
The client called because, after all of his hard work and after all of the content we produced to impact sweeping policy changes, he was at risk of being ousted from his position.
Not the call I was hoping for, but definitely the call I needed to take.
“It’s really frustrating. I worked hard to create these changes and the measures I CREATED and I PUT IN PLACE are having positive results! I don’t get it. Why are they attacking me, trying to make me look like an idiot? I’m the reason they’re hitting benchmark goals.”
I understand his frustration, but what he failed to understand is that being discredited and being de-legitimated are signs that your content is transformational. It’s evidence you’re doing something right. Want to know whether or not you’ve got great content? Look for the following:
Increased activity or engagement from competitors.
Attempts to discredit or de-legitimize your content.
Changes in interaction within your target audience.
I’ll explore each of these further, with appropriate detail, and discuss how they relate to the 4 strategy implications I outlined above.
Increased activity or engagement from competitors
Here, you’ve introduced a novel idea or revisited a concept within your industry, under the auspices of your brand. You’ve started to notice snarky comments or even attacks publicly against your content.
Congratulations, you’re an innovator. Do you, like, want a prize or something?
In all seriousness, don’t ever expect innovation to be met with warm fuzzies and attaboys. Expect content that innovates to smash through glass windows, hit turbulence mid-flight and come crashing down full force until finally, maybe, it gets implemented. Innovative content doesn’t pander to complacency.
Do not look to your competition to gauge the impact of your content, look at its recidivism throughout your target audience.
How well is your audience implementing your proposed changes?
In the case of my client, his policy measures were being swiftly implemented by workers, to the chagrin of competitor industry authorities.
innovative content for many businesses and industries, looks like:
Discovering new ways to use old products.
Identifying new ways to qualify previously unqualified candidates.
If you’re a Realtor, perhaps its introducing a new spin on an otherwise traditional, “Good Ol’ Boys” arena. (My dear friend, former studio neighbor and fellow Gemini Jacki P comes to mind. Whasssup Jackiiiiiii How YOU Doin’?)
Attempts to discredit or de-legitimize your content
If your content IS innovative, and it isn’t full of flaws, inaccuracies and slander then you’ll likely notice the following happening: your competitors will try to downplay, discredit or delegitimate your competencies so that they can, in turn, usurp and profit from your innovation.
They must first discredit you, then they can steal from you. Dark, I know, but it’s strategy. Cast your gaze to Washington; you’ll see it happening everyday. In this instance, your Strategy has succeeded, and they’ll need more. Here’s where you decide: do I stick to my guns and go ALL IN, continuing on this path and fighting for my stake on this territory, or do I open the doors to collaboration and position myself as the commandeering force atop a sweeping industry movement? Sometimes suctioning in salty competitors and increasing your overall marketing reach is more effective than going it alone against the grain.
Changes in interaction within your target audience.
For my client in question, he unilaterally implemented policy changes throughout his organization. A few months later, he started noticing the following: relationships were improving between workers and contract clients, utilization of member benefits increased without the cost to the organization of those benefits increasing, workers felt like they were learning a lot and gaining a lot…without necessarily having to exert a lot of effort. All good things, right?
So you’re wondering…what’s the problem, Les? Looks like they’re getting great results. Nothing to see here.
While things look good on the end-user side, there’s a choking off phenomenon occurring internally throughout his organization.
His colleagues and superiors resent him and want to steal credit for his evergreen content (here: policy) achieving organic reach (here: successful reception among the target audience).
So while his Strategy has Succeeded, he needs more and therefore its time to Scale Up (#1), the Game has also Changed, that Strategy-as-is is irrelevant and therefore he must Pivot (#3).
He must decide how to proceed, given these implications. That’s not for me to decide. Personally, as a “Type A” (Air Quotes), Extroverted Intuitive, Thinking Judging human, I’d love nothing more than to tell him to say screw everyone else, focus on your end game, and crack a few eggs in the process of making one delicious organizational omelet. But that line of strategy implementation has only ever gotten me running around in circles, solving the same recurring problems and a high attrition rate. (Evidently, no one likes to be bossed around.)
How to Apply All of this in a Way that Positively Impacts my Content Strategy Approach
NOW, for the jump.
I’ve just laid out the rope, trimmed the ends and tied the perfect slip knot. Will you hang yourself with it or reign in your most strategic move ever? Will you take this information, assess your current content game plan and reinforce your weak points? Or will you continue, business as usual, getting the same results and no traction…either with the end-user audience or within your organization?
If your roadblock is Issue #1, you’re likely at the point of Scaling Up your business. Keep in mind—as you grow, your needs will shift along a continuum. What worked for 4 subjects (employees/ contractors/ subordinates/ constituents/ whatever) will not work for 40. What works for 40 will not work for 400. Stay cognizant of shifting needs and be ready to meet them head on to prevent bottlenecks in production.
If your roadblock is Issue #2, you’re likely at the point of figuring out what went wrong by assessing Lessons Learned. You’ve likely realized that your strategy failed to yield profitable outcomes (relationship/ addiction relapse in recovery/ bankruptcy/ strike or employee walkout/ no one liked your posts on social media). Figure out what went wrong and adjust accordingly. Note: it isn’t always the content itself that was flawed. For example, a failed relationship isn’t always because YOU’RE too much or too little of anything; maybe it was a bad fit. The implication shouldn’t be assigned a value: ‘good’, ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’. Frame your assessment in terms of ‘effectiveness’ and ‘efficiency’ for a more accurate, objective assessment.
If your roadblock is Issue #3, then the conditions originally at play are no longer; change your strategy or die. You’ve given the employee another chance; he or she blew it. Your start quarterback is benched for the rest of the season. Your opponent introduced a massive smear campaign ad 3 weeks before Election Day. Whatever the pain point, find your pivot and don’t lose your feet in the process. Creating a seamless transition in your content will continue to solidify your stronghold with your base while capturing the buy-in of new followers. Tread carefully and really, contact me for help in this department.
Finally, if your roadblock is Issue #4, it’s over, darlin’…cut your losses, deposit your gains or plan your next best move…Onward & Upward. You’ve just sold your business. You’ve recently been diagnosed with a late-stage terminal illness. You lost an election. You got dumped/ ghosted/ friendzoned. Whatever it is, realize you’ll gain nothing by trying to resuscitate a corpse. Your strategy now becomes making preparations for the next steps. Identify your knowns and unknowns. Avoid projecting irrational possibilities, and base your steps on certainties.
Relenquish control; it’s just an illusion anyway, and most importantly…embrace imperfection. Maybe it didn’t turn out quite the way you wanted it to. Maybe it turned out better than you wanted to. Either matters none. What does matter, is that you find within yourself whatever it is you need in order to do the things you know you need to do.
So you’re probably wondering…how did the conversation end with this client? I’ll let you see for yourself:
Need help in assessing your own current content strategy? Want our insights with figuring out your next best steps when it comes to content creation and development? Contact us today. We’d love to help you totally perfect your content game by..what else? Embracing your imperfection.