What part of walking on the tether requires the most courage?
Most people believe it’s the first step on the ropes. But the hiker who recounts one of the short stories in the anthology Love’s Watches says that’s not the case:
“The hardest is the step after the first one. That’s where you gain or lose your balance. That’s where it becomes a walk or a fall. After the second step, it is not possible to go back. ”
The same goes for developing an innovative content strategy – the second step is the hardest.
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Can you follow through and still create a creative content strategy?
The other day I had an interesting conversation with a VP of content at a technology company. She was recently commissioned to build a creative content strategy and a team new . But she didn’t know how to start.
The desire to find a map, template, or content strategy guide nearly drives everyone to start a new initiative. But I’ve found that developing new content strategies by looking through someone else’s lens rarely produces dramatic results.
I notice that when people ask, “Can we do what they did?” they usually give one of three answers:
If surname did it, we sure can
This answer is often accompanied by a bit of jealousy. It removes people or groups but strangely welcomes the map. NFT recently sold for $69 million (created by computer scientist turned artist Beeple) provides a great example. Many people when they heard about this sale thought, “Wow, is a JPEG too expensive? I can do that! ”
But this is the problem. They did not. Beeple did – and got paid for it. That’s the lesson.
Give me their content program map, and I’ll do just fine
This answer, which I call the model, is often found in marketing. People look for prototype case studies, samples, or “proven” best practices to follow. And they expect to get the same results.
I rarely see groups that follow this approach end up with the results that the original sample or compelling case study promised. Maps were never accurate for where they were going.
Why? Because it doesn’t allow skills Specifically or your unique context.
You must customize the template or map to suit your situation. Think about the meals you’ve prepared for friends and family. How often do you change recipes to suit what you have on hand, what’s in season, or what appeals to the people you’re making it with?
Does anything like what I want to do already exist?
The most helpful answer involves finding guidance in content or strategy projects that reflect the essence of what you want to achieve.
You may find it helpful to look outside your industry or even examples most similar and study the nature of what makes those efforts successful. Looking beyond the familiar motivates you to interpret ideas through your creative lens.
Instead of copying the exact form of the projects you work on, find ways to spark innovation.
My client at a tech company has benefited from this approach as she sees the challenge of leading new people, creating workflows. new and generate new outputs to support the new content strategy.
I advised her to look for projects related to sudden change at a company unlike the one she works for. Finally, she researched how a colleague of mine implemented an internal product design team for a financial services company. procedure.
Why the first step is not doozy
This is the kind of answer to the question “Can we do that?” reveals why the second step turns out to be the most difficult.
Think about it. Discovering the spark of innovation that will give direction. You’ve found the North Star to look forward to.
But the second step is to commit to your vision. That’s when you walk or fall. That’s when there’s no going back – and no one can make the decisions but you.
I helped prepare my client to take the necessary steps to make the changes her new content strategy needed. Try the process we’ve followed whenever you need to make important changes to your content strategy:
Step 1: Create your map
Start with your vision to achieve success with your new strategy. Use the “inspired spark” pattern you found earlier as an example. Then ask yourself, “What does it take to be true for all of my successes to come true?”
Write it all down on paper. It sounds overwhelming, but you’ll be surprised how much it feels to create your visionary to-do list.
Explore the emotions you feel around the associated uncertainties. List all the things that scare you or that you can do wrong. List the things that can go right and make you feel good. Admit that you can’t control how these things feel, but you can control how you react to them.
Then, of course, plan and map. Go back to your list of all the things that need to be right for the program to be successful, then identify any “rocks” that might get in the way. Which needs to be resolved first? Second?
You just imbued the plan with your vision . You are now ready to take the second step.
Step 2: Start the journey
Challenging first step. But the most challenging part will be saying “yes” to the adventure you have designed.
One thing happens in almost every client consulting activity I’ve been involved in. After we finished approved case and business plan , I congratulate the customer. Then a sigh and the inevitable words: “Yes, but now we have to do it.”
That is step two. Commit.
You commit to walking. You tackle that first big initiative. You do it all. You don’t follow someone else’s pattern. You don’t fire people who come before you because you feel you can do as well or better. You developed your own recipe instead of trying to improve someone else’s.
The steps just got easier
In the story I mentioned at the beginning of this section, the leash hiker says, “The third step is getting started. It’s a complete move forward in a new course. ”
Accomplishing that first initiative or passing your first challenge is the first step. That’s when you start to see that things are working the way you think they should. It’s much more gratifying than looking at the next step in a patterned map.
From there, the book says, “The fourth step is an assertion. And after the fifth step – that’s just a step. ”
You are on your way.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. That second most challenging step gives you confidence in your journey.
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Cover photo by Joseph Kalinowski / Content Marketing Institute