Shhh It's a Secret Attention Recipe
The three must-haves to get people listening
Hey friend, welcome to Delightful. New newsletter name, same newsletter management. Every
Sunday whenever!, this silly email helps you make better creative and strategic decisions. This week, I’m adding three more exercises to the 12-Step Brand and Content Framework for making brand content that sucks less. Fun stuff. Absolutely delightful. Anyway, hello, it’s good to see you. -Steve
Hey hello, how are you?
Everything is fine here, thanks for asking.
Saw Everything Everywhere All at Once last night.
✨ New Framework Exercises ✨
There’s a new update to the 12-Step Brand and Content Workshop.
If you’ve just joined us and you’re wondering what this framework is all about, this post right here provides a delightful introduction.
The exercises in the framework will help you—or help you help your client—accomplish three very powerful and fundamental things:
Establish who you are (brand)
Define who you’re talking to (audience), and why (goals)
Develop what you’re talking about (content topics and ideas).
I’ve used each of these 12 exercises throughout my career (air quotes) to develop editorial strategy, voice, and content for brands like Amazon and MetLife and Box and Adobe (and, also, one creative agency).
Today we’re going to talk about #2 in the list above—that is, we’re going to review the exercises that define who you’re talking to.
Let’s puddle jump right into it.
But first a word from our patron.
How to get attention
Ok so, you’ve likely noticed that the workshop is divided into three sections:
Who you are
Who you’re talking to
What you’re talking about
Let’s unbox that shall we.
Who you are is your brand. It’s your personality. It’s your voice. It’s your unique point of view. It’s what makes you interesting.
Who you’re talking to is your audience. It’s the people you’re trying to inform and entertain.
What you’re talking about is your topics. These are the things that you and your audience both care about.
Those are the minimum requirements for getting attention. You’ve gotta know those three things.
If you know who you are and what you’re talking about, but you don’t know who you’re talking to, you’ll fail with respect to tone. This would be like trying to reach Gen Z on TikTok while speaking latin.
If you know who you are and who you’re talking to, but you don’t know what you’re talking about, you’ll fail with respect to curation. This would be The Economist, if The Economist also published recipes for chicken nuggies.
And if you know who you’re talking to and what you’re talking about, but you don’t know who you are, then you’ll fail with respect to being interesting. This would be a white paper.
Don’t be a white paper.
Exercise #7: Empathy Map
First up! The new additions to the deck include an exercise on Audience Personas.
Here’s an example:
Everybody here likely knows what a persona is.
But! Not all personas are created equal.
In fact, I’d say the persona above ☝️is more like an empathy map.
Empathy Maps are, like, the foundation of Personas.
In my experience, typical marketing personas focus on demographics, tastes, and lifestyles. Basically, an audience’s preferences.
But honestly? That info? Not really helpful!
To create content that really speaks to someone, you need to understand more than the fact that, like, Roger is a super busy dad with two kids, is enthusiastic about PTA and school board meetings, and can’t live without his daily Venti frap.
Instead, you need to understand whyyyy Roger can’t live without his daily Venti frap. You need to understand his motivations. Is he dissatisfied with his life and considers drinking 700 calories of burnt coffee and sugar some kind of psychological pressure escape valve? This would be helpful info! (Especially if you’re selling, I dunno, something something weight loss.)
Exercise #8: Competitor Mapping
This is one of my faves.
Here’s an example of a competitor mapping exercise I did for Adobe during an agency engagement.
Maps are helpful because, well, they visualize your competitive territory and help you focus on your differentiator.
The trick is choosing which qualities (X, Y) to compare.
Exercise #9: Goals
I see a lot of content strategy posts talking about SMART goals and OKRs and “laddering up to broader business objectives”.
These are important!
But more important, of primary importance, is that you clearly state, in plain English, what you’re trying to accomplish with your content.
That’s what this exercise does:
Get To By is a framework from the strategy discipline (the planning discipline, if you’re British) in creative agencies.
Typically, the strategist develops Get To By for their creative brief, which explains the challenge and opportunity for the creative team. Here are some good examples from Mark Pollard.
We’re going to do something similar, by employing the Get To By framework as a mini-creative brief for our content.
By the time you reach this exercise, you’ll already know your target audience (Get). Your task now is to establish what you want that audience to do, and how content will help you achieve that.
Here’s a working example.
Consider Fractal. They’re a venture capital studio that recruits talented executives to launch B2B Saas startups. When they contact those executives, they try to recruit them into an Entrepreneur in Residence program, which helps them to launch a startup. So, in order to successfully recruit, Fractal needs to convince those executives that Fractal is an expert in founding companies (generally) and B2B Saas technology and markets (specifically).
This presents an opportunity for our content strategy:
Get: Aspirational and talented executives who may not have considered b2b startups before
To: Apply to fractal’s EIR program
By: Publishing content that positions fractal as the expert on b2b saas that helps founders achieve their dreams
That’s concise and digestible and easy to communicate!
Now tbc. This is a starting point.
Later, after you complete the workshop, you’ll need to develop more specific, measurable, and actionable goals.
But for now, you’ve got a clear idea of what you’re trying to accomplish as you head into the third part of the workshop: what you’re talking about.
Goodness, this turned into a long newsletter. Sorry about that!
Be back soon with the conclusion of this content framework series.
Oh! And check the Miro version out, too.
It doesn’t have as much context as the google slides, but it is easier to navigate, collaborate, and present.
p.s. Yes, I absolutely provide workshops for this frameworks. Don’t hesitate to get in touch.
New here? Maybe subscribe! I give away creative tools for free! Might be worth $5 I’m just sayin.
More delightful resources
12-Step Brand and Content Framework (in process)
How can I help? This is a 100% organic, free-range, desktop-to-inbox newsletter devoted to helping you navigate uncertainty, seek the most interesting challenges, and make better creative decisions in marketing and beyond. Delivery at 6pm ET most
Sundays whenever! Your host is Steve Bryant, who is for hire. He’d love to help you develop and deploy creative and bold ideas or staff your newsroom, content, or marketing project. Thanks for reading. Be seeing you.