“Just make it up,” I advised a client — actually the whole project team — when they were stuck and debating on how to proceed with part of their campaign.
Silence. Uh-oh. The looks I got, I might as well have said, “Just throw your money out the window.” I laughed, but I couldn’t back down, because I meant it. I plunged on, “That’s what I do.”
No Bibliography Required
This fear or resistance of invention — of making something up — is holding a lot of us back. It’s as if we’re looking for a book or resource or expert to point us to page 428, second paragraph, for specific and correct directions on what to do. (Then we can annotate it!)
But how did that resource come up with the solution in the first place? They made it up. Sure, they tested it and shared it and revised it. They may even have come up with the idea from a range of sources and experiences. But some individual had to invent it and write it down.
That Magic Layer
This business of “making it up” is part of the Magic Layer I mentioned here, and I don’t really talk about it to many people. For obvious reasons. Invention is welcomed in the art world, but within business strategy, it’s much harder to accept.
I do understand.
Clients are paying my content strategy company for time-tested expertise, skills, and knowledge. And we do — we bring that. At the same time, every company I’ve worked with in the last 11 years has, at some point in the content creation or content strategy, needed a creative solution. Something unique and different and … inventive.
Dive In Head First!
All of us working with content or content strategists will reach a point where it’s unclear which path to take. Sometimes it’s in the very beginning. Sometimes it’s in the middle. My suggestion is to climb on one of those diving boards — those gems of knowledge you know to be true — and dive in from there. Just make it up.
The result may be unexpected and initially rejected. In fact, the first ideas are often rejected — or at least, questioned. But it’s exactly the thing the team needs to clearly see what’s needed. This, in fact, happens every time. A proposed path is much more effective in directing an effective solution than an open discussion.
You are smart. You know your company. You will know genius when you see it. So start making it up — or let someone else (preferably an experienced content strategist!) make it up — then use your team’s know-how, instincts, and testing to help shape your solutions.
Agree? Disagree? Would love to hear your thoughts.