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How to Keep the ‘Content Police’ From Arresting Your Progress

How to Keep the 'Content Police' From Arresting Your ProgressThink back — way back if needed — to that first time you sat behind the wheel of a car after getting your license. Remember how all that giddy delight of hopping in, throwing it in gear, and pulling out of the driveway slowly faded away the farther you got from home? And by the time you hit the freeway, it didn’t take long for your eyes to bounce back and forth between the speedometer and the rearview mirror.

That’s pretty much what it’s like with content — minus the whole giddy part. But you do find yourself looking backward as soon as you hit publish, white-knuckling it until you get pulled over for something you’ve done “wrong.”

Shifting into the content lane — be it text or video — is overwhelming enough without the added pressure of thinking what you publish must abide by a checklist of dos and don’ts. Sure, it helps to know the basics, but content needn’t be perfect, no matter what the “content police” would have you believe.

What matters most is the meat of your content — and what it makes your audience feel in the process of consuming it. If people find something interesting or valuable, they’ll come back for more, engage with your brand, and share your content with others. With 70 percent of B2B marketers creating more content this year than last, that’s increasingly crucial to craft something engaging. Eventually, you’ll amass a following, helping your content start to do what it was always meant to: market your products to a target audience.

Practice Makes (Im)perfect

Allowing your content to be less-than-pristine doesn’t mean it can be shoddy; you still want to proofread it because a misspelled word or grammatical mistake can downright pull someone out of an otherwise good read. But those last few edits toward perfection aren’t often necessary.

Instead of focusing so much on the content itself, it’s often much more effective to consider what you hope to accomplish by publishing the piece. If the goal is to answer a major question, write toward that. As soon as that box gets checked, consider your mission complete.

The question then becomes how to get your team to choose progress over perfection. The following steps are often a good place to start:

  1. When it comes to video, roll through bad takes.For consistently creating valuable content, there’s one incredibly simple rule: Once you start, don’t stop. In other words, instead of worrying about a mistake, you should always move forward. Focus on what’s next instead of what was said or how it was said.

For example, let’s say you’re shooting a tutorial. If you know you can start over, you’ve just given yourself a safety net to do just that again and again. By following a “one-take” rule, you turn that editing mind off. You stay in the moment and often deliver your message with clarity, confidence, and poise.

Having trained hundreds of subject-matter experts on how to perform on camera, I’ve learned that this one simple rule, if understood, can turn an on-camera novice into a high performer in no time.

  1. Go back for seconds.While you don’t want to continually start and stop as you create content, you also shouldn’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself by thinking one pass-through will always be enough. It’s OK to do it again — that is, after you’ve completed the task at hand at least once.

The ideal outcome isn’t to haphazardly throw something together; it’s to take a more methodical approach to content creation and work within certain parameters to strike a balance in quality, quantity, and results.

  1. Limit the cooks in the kitchen.When it comes to putting the final touches on content, there shouldn’t be multiple gatekeepers. In most cases, one person should control subject matter and another should monitor grammar, editing, etc.; any more than this just drags out the process.

Take your average, everyday marketing department where it’s likely that a committee approves an idea. The more committee members you have, the more opinions you’ll find and the longer it’ll take to get ideas to creative. If you’ve got a 12-week deadline and it takes 10 weeks for approval, not only are you asking for an extension, but you’re also jeopardizing project quality. Nothing can kill the morale of a content production team like too many cooks — or the content police — stirring up trouble.

  1. Get a neutral source.When working with salespeople and other subject-matter experts to produce content, use someone who’ll interview them like a journalist and ask the questions that will elicit the best thoughts and comments. You want to facilitate their best communication styles, not add obstructions.

When working with clients, that same neutral style is useful, which is why almost all of our hires have some sort of journalism background. This isn’t to say we don’t train them to think like marketers, but their experience allows them to draw the best information out of our clients and produce the content that’ll fulfill their marketing needs.

There’s no such thing as perfect content, and trying to attain it has prevented a lot of people from sharing what could’ve been some valuable solutions to some widespread problems. Think progress over perfection when it comes to crafting your content. Do that, and no amount of siren sounding or chatter from the content police will keep you from getting where you want to go.

Have you had difficulty getting your team to prioritize progress over perfection? Tell us about it in the comments.

Photo Credit: Diari La Veu – Flickr via Compfight cc

Marcus Sheridan
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