I dine out alone a lot. My dining experience falls into two categories: ignore me (and my water glass) or shower me with attention. In both instances, it feels like the server is embarrassed by the fact that I’m there alone, and the embarrassment gets in the way of doing the job right.
We see the same thing happen around creating a content strategy. While it may not be embarrassment, some emotion—frustration, fear, pride—gets in the way of doing the job right. Instead of taking the time to assess the situation and make judgements based on what we do know, we start to assume, which puts us at a disadvantage from the beginning.
The Dining Alone Content Strategy
Over the course of several solo meals, I came up with idea that a solid content strategy could look like good service in a restaurant:
- Ask the right questions.
When I get to a restaurant, the host(ess) automatically grabs two menus, and I have to clarify that it’s just one. What if instead of grabbing the menus, the questions was posed: “Are meeting someone or waiting for the rest of your party?” Asking the right question from the beginning sets you up to get the information you need to do the job right.
- Learn to recognize the cues.
Start by watching for signs that you need to act or react to a situation. When dining out, I like my water glass refilled at least once. But it rarely works out that way. Instead I run out or the server splashes the table by constantly refilling the glass. The same thing can happen with your content strategy. Assess where you really need to apply your effort and don’t force it where it isn’t needed. You’re looking for a balanced approach.
- Deliver more value than expected.
I’m a good tipper unless the service is horrible. In the past, I’ve wondered if I’ve gotten less attention because there’s no expectation of a good tip on one meal. Perhaps I’m the exception, but if my service is good, I usually leave a 30-50% tip. The same lesson applies to content strategy. It may not happen every time, but there will be projects that result in your version of a big tip. Maybe it’s a bonus, promotion or referral. Whatever the benefit, there will be a something good that comes from delivering more value.
I have yet to find a restaurant that consistently does a good job with solo dining. I do know that if I ever find it, I’ll be devoted customer for life. The same can be said if you figure out how to consistently deliver a content strategy that works without leaving a mess on the table.