Today I want to introduce you to the one book I believe you need to read to help you in your quest to be more consistent, visible and engaging.
It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be by Paul Arden is the shortest grown-up book I’ve ever read, but the one that’s had the biggest impact on me as an entrepreneur. This book has transformed my mindset and made me a better writer and service provider too. I’m often asked how to know what to post online to establish a successful content marketing strategy, and this book is always part of my initial answer. It holds the key to being authentic as a creator, seeking inspiration from the right places and evaluating what’s really important when setting up and running a business.
Here you will find the points that stuck with me most from reading the book (but trust me, there are plenty more in it making it a worthwhile read for any business owner)…
‘DO NOT SEEK PRAISE. SEEK CRITICISM’
I’m very open to admitting that I’m someone who has always needed approval and acceptance, no matter what it is that I’m doing. After reading this book, I realised that actually I was taking the wrong approach. We learn a whole lot more from our mistakes and failures than we do from our successes.
While we’ll all internally want the gratification we get from a sell-out launch or a video going viral, that doesn’t teach us very much — either the post/product met a need at the time or it resonated resulting in the initial traction it needs to increase its’ longevity in an algorithm. Even if we tried to replicate or repeat it, it may not have the same results. Whereas if a product doesn’t sell or a post doesn’t go viral, we can learn more — we might find that it wasn’t targeted enough, wasn’t being published on the best channel or didn’t serve a purpose.
As business owners, we can seek criticism in a number of ways. We can run surveys and get feedback from readers/viewers/followers/clients/customers, we can work with other people who have done what we’re trying to do and we can look deeper into our data to see where changes can be made. If everything was perfect from the get go then there wouldn’t be a learning curve taking us to the next level.
Everyone has something that can be improved and the best way to move forward and increase that consistency, visibility and engagement is to get that criticism and constructive feedback from the people who a) want our products/services/content and b) know us or what we’re trying to achieve best. Paul suggests that we avoid asking the people who will tell us what we want to hear. My clients often tell me that I’m good at challenging their ideas and actions — even though it can be uncomfortable at first, that’s how we see results.
So where can you go from here? Next time you share something, ask your readers/viewers/followers what could be improved — I guarantee you’ll receive more feedback than if you ask “what do you like about X or think works well on X”. Use a variety of methods on a recurring basis to get the constructive criticism you need. I’ve said this before, but listening is vital when it comes to content marketing.
‘DO NOT COVET YOUR IDEAS’
I love Paul’s point of view in this section of the book; this has become one of the most valuable pieces of advice I’ve received during my time as a service provider. He suggests that ideas are open knowledge and that they don’t belong to anyone so we should share them with others. This then gives us more opportunities to seek further ideas and inspiration -
“The problem with hoarding is you end up living off your reserves. Eventually you’ll become stale. If you give away everything you have, you are left with nothing. This forces you to look, to be aware, to replenish”
At the beginning of my journey I’d be so reluctant to even share a tweet saying “tomorrow’s post will be about X” in case someone wrote a post on that topic overnight and shared it before me (so silly, I know). But now I know that even if they did, it wouldn’t be the same as mine and in fact it could work in my favour if I also shared their post on my social media as it draws more attention to the subject, creating excitement and interest.
By sharing ideas, you actually put yourself in a more respected position with your audience. They’re more likely to buy from you, read more from you or engage with you if they feel that you’re a trustworthy and open person, willing to help them. This is why I always write to you — my posts contain ideas and suggestions that are there to help you. It’s also a big part of my social media marketing strategy — I share even more ideas over there which has helped me to build an online community and work with more clients.
So try it. Share that list of post ideas you’ve got written down, share potential project or product ideas, you might find that you become someone people immediately think of turning to for inspiration or guidance.
‘WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR CLIENT WON’T BUY — DO IT HIS WAY, THEN DO IT YOUR WAY’
I talk a lot about knowing and defining your target audience, for a good reason. In order to make money or to increase retention rates, you’ve got to know what your reader/client/customer wants. Unfortunately it’s not just about what you want in this business, unless you have a personal blog where you’re not looking for a huge readership. Paul suggests that in order to get what we want (money, ‘success’, freedom, fame, time), we must first do what our audience wants and I couldn’t agree more.
If you want to try something new — a new topic, a new product, whatever it is, then it’s important to establish yourself with one focus first. Many brands try to do too much in the beginning which makes it far harder than trying to stick to one niche or small list of categories. I’ve really honed in on my topics thanks to this book (my core areas are digital content marketing and online community management). These two still have many subcategories but refining my offerings helps people to understand what I do so they know if I can help them or who to refer to me. Introducing new topics is a case of timing and having found your feet (or having a recognisable brand) in one place first — this also applies when looking to launch a product that’s different from the norm of your brand.
“If you show him what you want and not what he wants, he’ll say that’s not what he asked for. Give him what he wants and he may well give you what you want”
Can you cut down your main categories to 2 or 3 that act as an umbrella to other subcategories and meet the needs/wants of your target audience? I promise you this will help to increase your engagement because the right people will react.
‘IF YOU GET STUCK, DRAW WITH A DIFFERENT PEN’
“Change your tools, it may free your thinking”
I love trialling new tools and methods to streamline my processes and increase consistency/visibility in content marketing and community management. I always share the best of the bunch with my community so you don’t have to spend ages searching for something to get the job done. No matter what area I get stuck on, there’s always new approaches and tools to try.
I’ve recently taken an Instagram break because I simply didn’t know what to share – leading to inconsistent and ineffective posting. After taking a step back, I changed my approach. If you’re often finding yourself stuck, then try something different — draw with a different pen… you can take that as literally as you like. By changing your approach, you might find yourself taking a new, exciting path.
What I love about the book is that it can be applied to any creative or any role within a company. There are so many meanings and ways to interpret each page that makes it really interesting and relatable. It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be by Paul Arden is available from Amazon (and it’s really awesome, you should definitely read it).
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