Content marketing requires us to navigate a particularly thorny dilemma: how do we demonstrate our expertise and mastery (which is what we want people to hire us for) without alienating and confusing the people who are doing the hiring?
We have to do the work to meet them where they are.
My business coach has a great analogy for this: we're in the ocean, they are on the shore.
We operate from deep knowledge about and context for our point of view. We are way out in the deep of the ocean bobbing along in the supporting details, evidence and outcomes we know are possible and have seen happen.
We're comfy because we live there.
However, the people who want to work with us are in an entirely different place. They are still on the shore. Maybe they've dipped a toe into the surf or waded in up to their knees.
Being on shore or even knee-deep in is a far cry from being in the deep. That's unknown territory.
We can't expect a prospect to swim out to us (especially if she just got a fancy $100 blow out.)
It's up to us -- and our content -- to bridge the gap.
This is why one of 4.23's core messages is Content Is a Conversation.
Messaging is an ongoing effort to meet our audiences where they are and invite them to discover what the possibilities are if they're willing to step in a bit deeper.
There is nothing once and done about it.
We can't speak to our audiences in ways that require full knowledge of the deep of the ocean. They're not there.
We can't swamp them with the vast array of what we know. They're just getting their feet wet.
It can be tough to get the balance right. We are so entrenched in our businesses that we don't recognize when we're sending deep-end messages to shore-hugging audiences.
Here are a few things that help:
Let your content sit for a few days then read it imagining you are your audience. It helps to have someone specific in mind.
Get someone else to read it and tell you where they get lost.
Choose the right reader. If they work in your field, they may know too much. If they normally write academic papers, they may not appreciate conversational language. If they are related to you, they're going to love anything you do.
You need someone to strategize with, someone who will keep you accountable to your deadlines and who will deliver a business-focused editorial review. (If you're curious, we can have a chat about how I do that through 4.23’s Content Coaching and Content Coaching/Abridged programs.)
We all want to under-promise and over-deliver to make our customers happy. But when it comes to content, over-delivering can be too much.
Remember where you are. Remember where they are. Then swim back to the shore for the conversation.