TDW #017: The "Just Add Value" Trap
There’s a mistake everyone makes with "content marketing."
'Content marketing' is a new term even though it's been around forever. But somewhere along the way we started creating content 'just because' and forgot how to make it profitable.
I learned this after burning out from content creation a few years ago. Publishing constantly. All the time. Felt like I couldn't keep up.
Not only that, it seemed the more I posted the less results I got. It was exhausting and frustrating.
"Just add value!" they said.
But wasn't I already doing that?
And herein lies the mistake.
I had been snared by the “just add value” trap: this vague idea that we’re to create endless streams of content, publish on every platform known to man, and somehow, some way…clients are just supposed to show up at our door, credit card in-hand.
More content = more value = more clients.
Only, it doesn’t work that way. It never has worked that way. And the only people telling you it works that way were already rich before they started saying it.
Hard Truth: Every influencer telling you to "just add value" was making 7-figures before you ever heard about them.
See, "just add value" is the content strategy version of a kiddie lemonade stand.
People buy lemonade from kids at a lemonade stand because it's cute. And they can tell the kids worked really hard on it. But not because they're thirsty.
Earning people’s attention and converting it into cash is all about tapping into your market’s thirst.
Makes me wonder how many great businesses never got off the ground because the founder was too busy "adding value" instead of adding clients.
So here’s how to design your content to win clients, not kudos.
Step 1: Get Super Focused
Once I got honest about my content exhaustion, I got super focused. I was creating all this new content but I wasn't abundantly clear on a few key items:
- my offer
- my audience
- my Difference Factor
(It's that last one that's most important.)
See, more content was actually making the problem worse. It was muddying the waters even more. The more content I created, the more ideas I had to come up with. More ideas required more fuel. More fuel required more time. Time I didn’t have.
And because I had no idea what was working (and what wasn't), I had to stay on the Merry-Go-Round—even though I was violently nauseous.
It was kind of like finding a needle in a haystack. Every now and again I’d get lucky and see the desired results of my content (e.g. more clients). But I never knew what inspired them to take action in the first place.
I had so many different offers. Each with its own promise, outcome, process, and messaging. Messaging that required content. Sounds obvious now, but each additional offer doubled the amount of content I needed to create.
(And before you think “oh, I don’t have that many offers!” This included courses, programs, services, paid communities, free communities, workshops, or anything outward facing that required team energy. They add up quick!)
Step 2: Inject Some Personality
Turns out injecting personality is a really important piece of the puzzle I was missing. You'd be amazed what happens in your business when you drop the jargon and start talking like a real person.
People are drowning in value. “Value” is everywhere. And “value” is subjective anyway–so what’s valuable to you may not be to me (and vice versa).
So instead of "adding value" I added:
Your personality is an extremely limited resource. And a big part of your Difference Factor. It’s not that you’re saying something new. It’s that you’re saying it in the way you say it.
That’s what’s limited. Your perspective. Not the information.
So ask yourself:
What if, instead of producing content that sounds like everyone else, I produced content that sounded like... me?
Step 3: Polarize The Room
That's when I noticed things start to turn around. You will too. And not how you might think. I started getting more feedback—both positive AND negative. Stuff like:
- "Wow! This is great!"
- And "Wow! You're an idiot!" (This is a good sign, btw.)
- And “I never thought of it that way before
Turns out boring content is really easy to ignore—no matter how "valuable" we think it might be. Good content polarizes. It ushers in the right crowd faster. It repels the wrong crowd quicker.
That’s also when I started landing more clients.
The more I polarized (and not in a schizo Alex Jones kind of way), the more clients I landed.
But I got to warn you: polarizing means you’ll take your lumps. Not everyone will be a fan. If that makes you nervous, you should shut down your business and go work at DisneyLand because, hey, who doesn’t love Mickey Mouse?
Truth: Personality > Everything.
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