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Is Your Business A Perpetual Awkward Teenager?

That weekend, my biggest concern was whether the fringed, beaded cloth I bought by the yard at Wal-mart was going to stay put on the cuffs of my bell bottoms.

I was going to a barn dance, you see, and at 14 and going through a major, major hippie phase. I was all about the flower power, and if you didn’t get that then you were just a slave to The Man, man. Clearly, the best way for me to express that was through safety pinning cheap fringe onto my jeans and using slang that went out of fashion 20+ years before I was born.

And of course about 18 months later, I was into a different phase. This time it was all about the theater. (I mean, all about the theater.) And then came the cynical black T-shirt phase and so on and so on.

I know I’m not the only one to go through this awkward teenager journey. I mean, that’s kind of what being a teenager is about — you try on different personalities until you find one that you really like.

And while (usually) the worst that happens is some super embarrassing pictures of yourself wearing bottle green circle sunglasses and bell bottom jeans. But when you let that happen to your business, you’ve got the potential for some serious issues.

Your business and brand also goes through a process of finding itself — you experiment with wording and colors, you feel out your own boundaries, and you figure out what you’re really all about.

It’s fun, it’s frustrating, and it’s really important to work through … but a lot of people either try to skip over this phase and just work, work, work until that mythical day when they'll magically have time to spend on the navel-gazing stuff, or on the flip side, they let it drag out foreeeeeeeeever and never actually commit to one way of presenting themselves, making their brand the perpetual awkward teen of the business world, always trying to fit in but never quite making it.

Here’s why this is an issue: what seems to be about relatively surface-level stuff (colors, fonts, phrasing, topics) is actually about your messaging.

You know those businesses where everything seems to work together perfectly, and it just feels really smooth and professional? That doesn’t happen by accident. It happens when you have a strong message that you genuinely believe in and — this is the important bit — act on consistently in every aspect of your business.

Now this doesn’t mean that you decide on your message and then ruthlessly plan every Tweet down to the last syllable. That’s weird and inflexible, and ultimately useless, because people respond to people, not Stepford wife businesses.

But it does mean that you take the time to percolate on what your business is really about, and I mean on a deep down, life purpose type of way. And then, when you’ve done that, and explored your options, you zero in on the one that is most right for you, and take a stand with it.

Your messaging is the the basis of every single act of communication in your business, from blogging to brand colors.

That’s why it’s the first stage in the Content Circuit. Without it, your writing will be inconsistent (because you’re not really sure what you’re saying), people won’t really care (because if you don’t know what you’re saying, they sure as hell don’t), and you’re basically doomed to shooting in the dark every time you publish something.

But get it right, and you form a touchstone that you can use to guide every decision you make from there on out -- and the foundation of a seriously powerful content marketing strategy.

So if you’re thinking that your business might be hanging on to that awkward teen phase just a bit too long, take some time to nail it down. Get some help if you need to. But do what it takes to get your business out of the awkward teenager stage -- because it's when you start standing by a strong message that you can start to do really cool stuff with your content -- including using turning it into a powerful asset for your business.

Want to really nail your messaging (plus learn how to strategically use it as a business asset?) This is for you!

Is your content an asset for your business or a drain on your time?

So you've followed the advice of the so-called marketing gurus.

Created and crumpled a dozen "client avatars".

Blogged 'til you're blue in the face.

And you're still not seeing a ROI on your content.

People aren't reading, they're not remembering, and they're certainly not buying.

Let's fix that.

Actionable tips, effective strategies, and absolutely irreverent advice for getting your words to actually work for your business, right here.

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