“My views on business have changed as my business grew. As I become more successful, I find I take a different view of the business world and the world in general. I feel I’m seeing a broader picture – the view from 30,000 feet instead of being in the trenches. How can I update my content to reflect my new perspective?”
This question reminds us again that content creation is not a one-size-fits-all strategy. As you plan your content for the next month or year, you tailor your content to your archetype.
NOTE: For more on this topic check out the Strategic Storytelling Podcast Episode #98: Why Your Story Must Change As Your Business Grows.
But there’s another dimension to content creation. Your content changes as you relate differently to your business and life. Your content also changes to reflect changes in your market and opportunities within existing technology.
As a mini-case study, we can look at the way Connie Ragen Green began shifting her content over a period of years. Connie is a marketing powerhouse. I connected with her many years ago; we’ve shared joint ventures and she graciously wrote the intro to my book on storytelling, Grow Your Business One Story At A Time.
Connie’s trajectory makes a particularly good case study because she writes a lot of books. You can see how her strategy shifts as you follow her book titles.
When I first began connecting with Connie, she was strictly marketing. She was not interested in creating or sharing content related to personal growth. She wrote intensely practical marketing guides, such as about making “huge profits with a tiny list.”
Over the years, she added a book about her journey around the country to connect with members of her tribe – her loyal followers: An Entrepreneur’s Journey of Self Discovery. She shared details of how an illness almost derailed her trip, how she met with individuals in several states, and her final end to the trip as she arrived home safely, defying predictions of the doctors she’d met along the way.
That book directly connected to her business because of the title and becaus she shows how her trip enhanced connections to her business followers. More recently Connie got even more personal. She wrote In Pursuit of Healthy-ness, a book on how intermittent fasting changed her weight and her health. The connection to business became somewhat more tenuous, as she built on the concepts of people she’d known through her business.
She most recently wrote about her own beliefs in Essays at the Intersection of Hope and Synchronicity – revealing book that’s more personal and less business-oriented than any of her previous books.
If you look around at solopreneurs and thought leaders, there’s a trend to becoming more personal as you stay in business.
Connie’s story isn’t unusual. Over the years, I’ve watched business owners share more of their own stories as they build connections with their audiences over time.
One business owner followed the typical pattern of Innovators. She rarely talked about herself, beyond occasional photos of her daughter embedded in marketing messages. Recently she decided to hold a special webinar to talk about a particular development in her personal life related to her religion. She opened up and spoke freely.
Another has been sharing details of her life after her divorce. She moved to a new part of the country and found a whole new lifestyle.
Still, another began sharing a more humorous side of himself, with a cartoon image and more examples from his personal life.
Why does this happen?
They were accepted and acknowledged as competent leaders in their field. They presented their personal stories in the rear view mirror.
I always encourage my clients to stay away from personal stories. Your clients usually don’t care if you’re struggling with personal problems.
When you’re new to the field, your clients, vendors, and joint venture partners will resist trusting you if you raise too many red flags in the early stages. Many years ago a business owner invited me to join her in a venture. When we talked about buying services, she admitted that she didn’t have credit cards. She only had prepaid cards and cash.
Maybe she had a good story. She might have had medical bills or credit card fraud. But I saw only a red flag. I didn’t want to ask too many questions and I didn’t know her well at all. So I had to pass on the opportunity. I’d do the same thing again.
For the many years I’ve known Connie, I had no idea she’d struggled with weight or other issues. I didn’t know her story of growing up poor. She didn’t talk about her mother’s difficulties until the very last book.
That was wise. I wasn’t ready to learn about Connie’s personal life till I’d seen the strong, professional business woman who Connie is today.
We see the same with a well-known business writer, Dorie Clark. It wasn’t till her last book, The Long Game, that she wrote about feeling lonely and living with her cat.
Another example, Angela Duckworth, the author of Grit was interviewed about her career. She said she wanted to share stories of her struggles with her students- getting articles rejected, learning the field, and so on. But she waited till she’d won a major award before sharing.
So the bottom line is, your story will grow organically as your business grows. Your audience naturally wants to know more about you. In the early stages of your business you’ll do better to share sparingly; your audience might be curious but they’re waiting to see what you’ve got to offer them.
Moving too quickly can scare away your audience, but it’s equally important to be ready for change in your content as well as your tech and design.