How can I remain authentic to myself, but stay relevant and interesting to my followers and customers?
This is a question we should all be asking ourselves if we are a brand. Our growth and content planning should be strategic and intentional. So when I was questioning what were the next steps for my blog, I had to take a systematic approach to it the same way I do at work.
In school I studied Industrial Engineering, which is a focus on processes. We manage process, improve processes, and sustain processes. Whether that involves people, machines, or money. Currently I am in a continuous improvement position that requires me to constantly look at our data and metrics and make sure we are improving and constantly getting better. And there are tons of tools we use to make this easier. You may be familiar with some of them since a lot of them are no longer exclusive to manufacturing and engineering. Things like working lean or six sigma are big ones. I have all these tools on how to approach and view problems that applicable to any industry, including the creative space.
Understanding Business Expectations
So when looking at a problem or concern, you have to understand what to expect from yourself and your business. And usually these should be measurable metrics if you want to track improvement, even though I think it’s okay if it isn’t in the creative space. This concept is called Voice of the Business. For blogging this is: daily Instagram post, weekly blog post, compose three tweets a day, edit photos for two hours a day, monthly photoshoots, etc. Other ones can be: be influential, be a voice for women like me, but these are hard to measure, therefore difficult to show improvement or success. But that’s okay, success is defined differently in different spaces.
Understanding Customer Expectations
Same thing again but from a different perspective. What does my customer expect from me? Customers can be Instagram followers, subscribers to your site newsletters, or the people who buy your products. You define who your customer is. Now what do they expect from you? Examples: Relevant Instagram content, engaging blog post, responses to emails and comments, quality products, or products shipped on time. Think of what the people who follow you want, avoid thinking of whats trendy at the moment because these are two different things. My customer may like how I edit all my pictures with bright colors and tones, but what may be trending at the moment is desaturated warm toned Lightroom presets.
So now that I understand what the business expects and what my customers wants, these things should mostly match each other or the business expectations should help lead to what the customer expects. The customer definitely cares that you expect your brand or business to post weekly on your blog, but they do not care that you edit for two hours. They just want the content.
Now how does this play into authentic growth and content strategy? Let’s use me as an example:
Problem/Concern: I want to grow my brand authentically with great content but I just don’t know what to post.
Voice of the Business: Post daily content on Instagram, weekly blog post, weekly newsletter, design visuals, moods boards, and graphics for newsletter subscribers, one photoshoot a month, practice editing in Photoshop weekly, showcase photography on social media at least once a month, post two fashion related blog post a month, post two faith related blog post a month.
Voice of the Customer: Daily Instagram post, weekly blog post, post content showcasing editing and photography, write pieces highlighting my experiences and perspectives, cute outfit post, funny Instagram stories.
Sidenote: VOB is determined by you and what you deem as important an necessary for you business to be successful. VOC is determined and gathered by customer surveys, interviews, and other methods depending on the industry.
So if I don’t know what to post, I should focus on content that is expected from my customer, but is aligned with what the business deems important and necessary. Or in other words, I care about what my followers want, but it needs to be authentic to me! I ask a lot of my friends and followers what they like about my blog or what they think, and one thing I hear the least is, “Girl, you slay us with all these bomb street style looks and outfits. You are total style goals”. As a fashion blogger, I had to take a step back and really ask myself am I going to accept that or challenge it. I chose to accept it. This is because there is still plenty of space to give my customer what they want and stay authentic to me and my brand.
Most people love me for my content. The quality is good, the editing is nice, and it gives them vibes they enjoy. So if one of my business expectations is showcase photography monthly and my VOC is post and showcase my editing and photography, I have the perfect solution to my original problem. I can gear more of my content towards my photography and maybe change the frequency of my fashion post. PERFECT! And this is by no means an exhaustive approach to problem solving, because this can be broken down in so many more ways. But instead this is just using one tool to better understand where your problems and solutions may be.
I was thrift shopping one day with a friend. I held up this blue Alaska tee and asked her if I should buy it, and it was a solid no. But something in me knew I had to have this tee. Good thing I did because it matched perfectly with the outfit you see here. I say that to say, VOB and VOC can be drastically different. Your customer wants one thing, but you are not willing to provide it. This is where you can decide to care or not care. This would probably be were a business rebrands to make what they do and provide clearer, or rebrand to redirect their product or content to a different audience.
Some of you may be thinking I did not need to do all of that just to come to this solution. And sure maybe, but when you want sustained results, you need to be looking at data. Every practical problem has several metrics or data points behind it. And a solution can on be found when we understand that data and optimize the data, which leads to a practical solutions. Example:
Practical problem: I do not get enough engagement on my blog.
Data: From Q1-Q3, my blog has only received x unique visitors and only x comments and x likes.
Data Solution: Increase blog viewers by x percentage and create x more reasons to comment and like.
Practical Solution: Utilize SEO to drive traffic to site, post to social media platforms with direct links x amount of times a week, create more calls to action.
When you understand what is causing your data to trend up or down you can better attack that specific issue. But perhaps I’ll save the details on how to do that for another blog post. Hopefully this has helped you gain a better understanding of how your business expectations and your customer expectations can drive improvement for your brand.