Content Strategy → Document, Don't Create

The Growth Report - #16

Today's topics include

📈 Growth Marketing:
Content Strategy → Document, Don't Create

🧠 Personal Growth:
Productivity vs. Procrastination

⛑️ Reflections from the trenches:
Stop Trying To Be Happy

📈 Growth Marketing

Content Strategy → Document, Don't Create

Because I'm closely following quite a few people in the marketing space, I noticed that the ones I consider best at their craft not only deliver incredible value to their follower-base, but they also do so at incredible speed and consistency. But the reality is, whether you are working on your own brand, or you are looking to raise the profile of the company you work for, consistently creating new and original content is really demanding and time consuming work.

So how do they do it?

As I dug deeper, I started realizing that these uber-successful brands and creators are not necessarily "create" new content, but they document what they are already doing and adapt the content to the marketing channels they want to serve.

Think about it: you can ponder about the strategy behind every post and fabricate yourself into this “influential person or company”… or you can just be yourself. Because by being yourself you are uncopyable and the originality is baked in.

Gary Vaynerchuk is doing an incredible job at this and advices:

One of the biggest mistakes people make when creating content for their personal or company brand is trying to oversell themselves because they think that’s what’s going to get people’s attention. Whether you’re a B2C brand, or marketer or personal coach or artist, I think it’s much more fruitful to talk about your process than about the actual advice you “think” you should be giving them.

He goes on:

Documenting your journey versus creating an image of yourself or of your company is the difference between saying “You should…” versus “my intuition says…”. Get it? It changes everything. I believe that the people who are willing to discuss their journeys instead of trying to front themselves as the “next big thing” are going to win.

And don’t get confused—just because you’re “documenting” doesn’t mean you’re not creating content. It’s just a version of creating that is predicated more on practicality instead of having to think of stories or fantasy—something that’s very hard for most people (including myself).

I employ a similar mindset for this newsletter and the social posts on LinkedIn that I am doing. I already read and make notes of all the articles that I discuss in this newsletter, why not put in a little more work and share those notes with others? I already have a journal where I document what's going on in my life and my thoughts on building our company Growth Bay. Why not share these thoughts?

Jack Butcher calls this concept "selling sawdust". If you are a wood worker your main product may be a hand-crafted kitchen table, but there are a ton of people who pay good money for the sawdust too. Similarly, if you work on a product, a design, a strategy or anything else, you are inevitably doing research, assimilating ideas and producing value in some shape or form. Your main product may be the end result you are selling to your client or contribute to your companies' product, but other people who are in a similar situations are interested in your process and how you went about it.

In the words of Jack:

Content is what you produce while you perfect your product. Write about what's working, record what you're learning, showcase your client results, share their testimonials. Proof of work increases trust.

So if you are starting to document your process and share it with people, not only do you have an endless stream of low-effort content, but you are also building trust with your (potential) customers at the same time. Because you are not preaching the gospel from your ivory tower, but you are showing what you are actually doing and capable of. This proof of work, how Jack calls it, is the ultimate trust builder.

You can:

  • Talk about your process in a simple voice-memo form podcast (5-10min of you talking through an idea or concept)

  • Share images or illustrations of the flowcharts, website designs, product mockups and frameworks you are developing.

  • Make short videos of yourself or your team going over a recent product change, shift in strategy, market developments, behind-the-scenes etc.

  • Write a newsletter, blog post or LinkedIn post about an idea that you fleshed out and want to share with people and get feedback.

And finally, there is another huge benefit to this type of content strategy. The feedback you get is invaluable. You let your customers and leads participate in why and how you are building your product or service. This is compelling and invites the outside world to voice their opinion and offer advice.

🧠 Personal Growth:

Productivity vs. Procrastination

I've been thinking a lot about procrasti-planning lately.

I also recently stumbled into a Reddit thread that was criticizing someone for "watching a 30-min video about productivity instead of actually being productive."

How do you know when you're crossing the line from planning into procrastination? Or building productivity systems instead of doing the actual work? Or learning about productivity instead of being productive?

It takes years of practice, awareness, and iteration to design the way you work, and to know what's going to work best for you. What I know to be true is that productivity and workflow are truly personal. What feels functional and streamlined for one person, creates friction for someone else.

We all process and hold information in different ways, and many of us did not grow up learning basic time management skills from our parents. When I think about the years I spent burning the midnight oil, waking up in a panic every morning to check on client emergencies, and churning through endless to-do lists and emails... I know that taking the time to learn about productivity, time-management, and systems would have helped me immensely.

Understanding the value of planning would have helped me slow the F down. A weekly review would have been a game-changer. A business and life management hub, like I built myself in Notion? Be still my heart! Everyone is at a different stage in their journey to design their work-life ecosystems. Can spending 30 minutes learning a new way of operating or organizing your information outweigh the benefits of 30 minutes of "doing work"? A thousand times yes.

Is it possible to take it too far? 100%.

I love this graphic from XKCD:

It puts things in perspective.

Task management, email management, weekly planning, project setups... these were all routine activities worth optimizing because they were thing I was doing over and over again.

  • Finding, copying and pasting the same link over and over again

  • Writing similar emails

  • Managing daily tasks (both personal and biz)

  • Setting up new client projects

  • Creating systems to organize notes, files, and information

  • Creating and delivering proposals

Many of us are managing both personal and business activities (especially if you're now working from home instead of at an office). Many folks have never had to build their own productivity systems; they simply plugged in to pre-existing systems at their place of work.

Self management and productivity are skills that take time and conscious awareness to learn and embody. Give yourself a [limited] amount of time to build and streamline your systems. Optimize for "good enough for now," and tweak/iterate as you go.

Notice where there is friction in your workflow. What feels annoying, difficult, or frustrating? Start with the most routine activities that take up the most time, and tackle them bit by bit. It's not going to happen in a weekend, no matter how nerdy or committed you are 🤓

Be patient with yourself in the process, and be honest with yourself: Are you avoiding the work? Or are you optimizing because something is actually broken.

Only you know the answer to that one.

⛑️ Reflections from the trenches

In this section, I share my weekly thoughts and reflections that come up during our journey of building our company GrowthBay.

Stop Trying To Be Happy

A person dear to me recently philosophised that it's our duty to enjoy life and that we need to cultivate the self-awareness to make room for it in the moment. I wholeheartedly agree. Enjoyment, flow and happiness are not states to be captured or attained outside ourselves, they are always there inside waiting to be tapped.

For me this is a profound shift in perspective, because this means no matter the project you are working on, or the circumstances you are in, you can take a step back in the moment and decide for yourself how you want to frame whatever it is you are doing or experiencing.

For example, anxiety and excitement are two sides of the same coin. Like, both states are stemming from the almost exact same chemical process that happens inside our body (what the medical community calls “arousal congruence”). It's our mind that receives that signal and makes the decision which emotion to focus on. Our interpretation of the chemical process determines how we feel about it.

Mooji, the Buddhist teacher, once said:

“If you are chasing happiness, it will run away from you. When you stop chasing, happiness will come and kiss you on the cheek.”

What does he mean by this? Aren’t we founded under the principles of life, liberty, and the PURSUIT of happiness? We are. But perhaps there is some unproductive advice woven in there. To be in pursuit of something, is to acknowledge that you don’t have whatever you are chasing. Otherwise why would you chase it? You wouldn’t. You would just be in acceptance of what you have.

It is a worthy endeavor to pursue your purpose, your potential, or the fruition of some particular intention. But that is different than happiness. Happiness for me comes from acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm toward your present experience. It is not something that happens in the future or the past. It is always right now.

To me this means that you can be happy while pursuing anything, but you can’t pursue happiness. Because happiness is not a future state, it is just a present state. This is the misunderstanding surrounding happiness that keeps people from being as happy as they could be.

There is nothing to pursue, rather there is a personal choice in every moment to let go.

That's it for this week.

Enjoy your weekend 🏡

See you next week,