When we talk about creating content for your business, we mean literally everything you say or write about your business when communicating with others. Content means what you talk about when you’re speaking from a stage, the topics you discuss when on a podcast, the way you reach out to people one-on-one, what you put in the emails that you send to your list, and what you share on social media.
Many business owners who I talk to try to complicate their content creation when, in reality, it can be very simple. By simplified, I don’t mean that content creation is easy or a walk in the park. I won’t say that you will never hit a bump or need to change your topic. By simple, I mean that it does not need to be a complicated process.
In fact, it can be boiled down to just two significant components: connect as a human and communicate with intent.
Connect and Communicate as a Human First
As humans, we get in our own way at every possible turn. I have met many business owners who are completely stuck, worried about what they should do, what their business should look like, and how it should work. They are so concerned about who they should be that they don’t do the things that could make content creation easier. They don’t find stages from which they can speak or look for guest spots on podcasts. They don’t post on social media consistently because they are busy second-guessing everything they do.
One of the most significant areas of confusion I hear about is that they need to figure out what to say. It’s one of the first places we get stuck as business owners. Imagine for a second how much easier it would be to know what to say if you knew exactly who you wanted to talk to in the first place.
And yet, people don’t spend time working on really figuring out this part of business building or doing the behind-the-scenes work. I call it, not doing the work before going to work. Then, they wonder why things are not working. You have to spend time on the foundational pieces of your business before going out and trying to do business.
My Best Marketing Advice to Shorten Your Learning Curve
New business owners are particularly susceptible to bad business-building advice. But give yourself a break – it makes total sense to not know what you don’t know. You went into business to do the thing that your business does because that’s what you love doing, but it doesn’t mean that you’re also an expert at actually growing your business.
Sometimes the trial and error involved in learning how to grow your business includes making mistakes in your marketing or your attempts to connect with potential clients. In fact, you probably get bombarded with bad marketing advice daily, between the instatactics and spammy outreach that many people teach. My best advice is this: if the advice that you are receiving about marketing and growing your business does not meet the litmus test of “connect as a human first,” please do not do it.
How Does a Human NOT Connect as a Human?
Some real-life examples of not connecting as a human include DMing people the second they accept your friend request to ask them to buy something from you, download something, or doing anything other than saying hello and thanking them for connecting with you. When your first interaction with someone is to give them a call to action, it is not a human connection. That is making it all about you and whatever you want to achieve. It falls into the category of “how to lose friends and alienate people.” Other good ways to alienate your contacts include using the @everyone tag in a Facebook group and the newest Facebook feature of @highlight.
While there are some good uses for those tools – like a last-minute change to a meeting, an event cancellation, or a non-marketing emergency – when you use them as a marketing tool, there is zero connection. This approach reminds me of trying to dodge the people trying to get you to sample their perfume at the mall in the 90s.
If you haven’t been to a mall in a while, most of the doors to the mall are through the anchor stores, and you inevitably have to pass through the cosmetics section to reach the entrance to the actual mall. Back when malls were in their heyday, the stores hired people to spray you with perfume, hoping you would like the scent and make a purchase. I assume these people worked on commission because they were extremely aggressive and it felt like an odiferous assault as you tried to dodge them to emerge scent-free.
During those trips to the mall, I was usually there to meet a friend or purchase something other than perfume. I, indeed, never expressed an interest in being assaulted by perfume. That’s how it feels with these social media tools that tag you without invitation. In the same way that I used to take measures to avoid the perfume sprayers at the mall, I have unfollowed many people and left a lot of Facebook groups since business owners began to use these tools.
You Cannot Fast-Track Human Connections
People often think that their business will grow faster if they reach out with a “buy my widget” message, but I have yet to meet a single person who has said that this approach is doing fantastic things for their business or anyone who has ever responded to those efforts in a positive way. When your approach to social media is to assault people the second you become aware of them, you are pitching them without their agreement. They have agreed to connect with you on the social media platform. They have decided to be interested in who you are. But they have not agreed to be in a sales conversation of any duration, so you still need to connect with them first.
The reality is nobody likes to be pitched to like this. It is always a bad idea. You will ruin a potentially great connection before getting to know them. It takes an effort to build a connection with another person. If you had taken steps to get to know them and find out if they even have the pain or want a solution to it before you try to solve something for them, they might have developed into a client, referral partner, or even just another friend in the world of entrepreneurship. When you pitch them too quickly, it leaves a bad impression in their memory, not unlike those perfumes they tried so hard to sell in the mall.
Communicate with intent
Communicating with intent means you understand that all communication has only one goal: invite people to take one more step with you. You cannot jump the steps and go instantly from them having awareness that your business exists to pitching them to buy your widget. When you combine connecting as a human with communicating with intention, everything starts to come together. This is true whether you are on stage, on a podcast, in your email newsletters, or on social media. When you connect as a human and communicate with intention about whom you are trying to reach, knowing what to say and where you are coming from, it all comes together.
eBook: Connect As a Human First
I recently published a new ebook, Connect As a Human First: A Simplified Guide to Creating Compelling Content. It goes deeper into these ideas, connecting as a human first and communicating with intent. Download your free copy here: Connect as a Human First.