“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
-Winston S. Churchill
Why do most content strategies fail for online business growth?
I was on a group coaching call with a handful of entrepreneurs.
Someone was sharing how they were afraid to choose the wrong niche. They didn’t want to make a “bad” decision.
They didn’t want to be 5, 10, or 15 years in the future and regret it.
From their perspective, the decision they made now would be judged by their future self as either “good” or “bad.” What they did in the present would define them in the future.
We all do this, right?
Sometimes we feel paralyzed to act RIGHT NOW because… what if it’s the wrong decision?
When we approach our niche and content from this perspective, then we’re treating it like a product.
I’m defining “product” in more general terms here.
In this case, I’m talking about a “non-living” thing with fixed attributes that don’t change over-time.
By this definition, a bicycle would be considered a product. It’s a non-living thing. It has fixed attributes that solve a specific problem (two-wheeled transportation).
But your niche and content aren’t products. They’re a process.
The deeper and deeper we dive into any given topic or niche, our ideas will evolve along with it. This makes it a living thing and an ongoing process.
Most content strategies fail for online growth because they’re treated as products.
It’s approached as if there’s a “final solution.” As if all your content challenges converge into one solution that’ll solve all your needs.
But if we treat content this way, then we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment.
I’m going to share two types of problem-solving approaches that people take towards their content.
And I’ll be sharing how one of these approaches will ruin your content creation process.
Two Problem-Solving Approaches For Content
E.F. Schumacher wrote an interesting book called “A Guide For The Perplexed.”
And in it, he shares that in the grand scheme of things… they’re only two types of problems in the world:
- Convergent problems
- Divergent problems
Let’s define both, then talk about how they relate to content creation.
Convergent problems “must be solved” AND “can be solved”.
The example I used earlier is a bicycle.
When trying to solve the problem of two-wheeled transportation… you have a handful of choices. And you can eventually “converge” that problem into a final solution.
In the words of Schumacher:
“With a convergent problem, as we said, the answers suggested for its solution tend to converge, to become increasingly precise, until finally they can be written down in the form of an instruction.
Once the answer has been found, the problem ceases to be interesting: A solved problem is a dead problem. To make use of the solution does not require any higher faculties or abilities — the challenge is gone, the work is done.”
But not every problem “must be solved.”
It’s impossible to fully solve some challenges. At least not in the way you think.
Then we have divergent problems.
This type of problem has no “final solution.” It doesn’t converge into a single resolution.
These types of problems diverge. Multiple solutions become available, and you’re left with figuring out which path to choose.
Schumacher uses the educational system as an example.
What’s the best approach for helping people learn??
Of course, you’ll have your own opinion on how education should be. But others will have different opinions based on their partial point-of-view.
There’s no precise answer. Just the best possible choice based on our partial perspective.
And in theory, there’s always a “better” choice. We can’t converge the issues of education into a single solution.
And since divergent problems create “choice potential” at any given moment… it becomes a process (not a product).
Characteristics Of Both Convergent & Divergent Problems
Convergent problems are “non-living” things and make up simpler systems. Divergent problems are “living” things that result in complex systems.
Convergent problems can be solved and result in a final product. Whereas divergent problems have no final solution… but multiple pathways that lead to more-or-less fulfilling outcomes (making it a process).
Since divergent problems are living systems, they usually occur when you’re dealing with interpersonal relationships.
If it involves another person other than you… then it’s most likely divergent.
This happens because systems become increasingly complex once people start engaging with it.
To make my point, do you consider your relationships a “product” or a “process?”
Are your relationships fixed? Or are they dynamic?
Do they stay the same? Or do they evolve over-time?
Content Creation & Divergent Problem-Solving
As you may have guessed, content creation is a divergent problem.
Treating your content creation as a “fixed product” that converges into a single solution will weigh down your business.
The purpose of content is to share it with others to develop and grow a relationship.
But there is no “precise solution” for accomplishing this.
Why? Because it’s a process.
Your choice potential is endless. You can create content on many different topics that target different audiences.
The key is in discovering the best type of content that resonates with a specific type of audience. And even if you figure that out, it’ll still evolve (as is the case for any complex system).
There’s no right or wrong. Just potential choices that create more-or-less fulfilling outcomes over time.
The only way to “solve” a divergent problem is by becoming more versatile. This’ll improve your capacity to make better choices depending on the context.
As a side note, this is the whole purpose of expanding your vocabulary.
It gives you the ability to use more effective communication regardless of the context.
You can resonate with people who use more “sophisticated” words. Or you can resonate with people who don’t use jargon and want simple explanations.
Your vocabulary becomes versatile.
Here’s another analogy of why it’s important to expand your versatility.
A Key Characteristic Of Top Athletes: Expanding Your Capacity To Choose
Let’s use sports as an example.
Back in High School, I played lacrosse. And I would watch videos on how to improve my skills (so that I could use them in a game situation).
If I studied one move and tried to use ONLY THAT ONE MOVE in a game situation, do you think I’d perform well?
What if I executed that move perfectly?
I mean, it might work in some situations. But overall, I wouldn’t be effective.
And here’s why.
During the “process” of the game, there’s a large number of choices I can make. And that one move is just ONE CHOICE.
When you add multiple people (teammates and opponents), you’ll want a wide range of choices at your disposal.
Different moves. Techniques. And styles of playing.
Great sports players are said to be versatile because they have a wide arsenal of choices they can make. And given any specific situation in a game, they can make a dynamic choice to create the best possible outcome.
Becoming A Versatile Content Creator Will Lead To Business Growth
As I mentioned, content is a divergent problem.
And the best way to navigate this type of problem is by becoming versatile.
In content creation, this is a matter of producing tons of content.
Watch the feedback. Iterate. And repeat.
That’ll give you lots of reference experiences. And with it, various content choices that you can execute.
And over-time, you’ll gain a nuanced understanding on:
- What type of content to publish
- How to best deliver it
You’ll start seeing patterns for what your audience loves.
And with this information, you‘ll be able to create content that resonates with your audience and grow your business online.
How can you start becoming a versatile content creator?
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