The phrase “build it and they will come” inspires many people to hunker down and craft something wonderful. It provides reassurance that great art rises to the top of public awareness. You just need to give it long enough and people will notice.
Unfortunately, that’s not true. In today’s distracting world, great works go unnoticed every day.
Being productive allows you to produce great work. But it will be ignored if you don’t make efforts to distribute it. You need to make a conscious effort to draw attention to what you do.
Ignore your reluctance
Promoting your work may feel uncomfortable, but it gets easier with practice. The trick is overcoming your initial reluctance to put the word out.
Focus on the benefit you’re providing by announcing your work. If there’s any chance others will use it, then share it. If there’s any possibility they might duplicate your work then it’s critical to talk.
Developing a process for communication can help remove the emotional element. If you’re doing step two of your content strategy, which happens to involve emailing the whole sales team, that’s fine. Right?
Good, let’s get started.
Plan at the start
Early in your project you’ll need to plan how to contact your stakeholders. This involves deciding who needs to know and deciding how often to contact them.
Don’t delay this step. If you wait until you finish the project, you’ll miss an opportunity for feedback and cooperation.
I find it helpful to draw a stakeholder map, which groups colleagues into different buckets based on their power and interest. You can find other approaches on Google, but this is my favourite.
Place stakeholders into quadrants based on their interest level and organisational power. Then develop a strategy for contacting each group. Here’s an example:
- Manage closely – Weekly email summary.
- Keep informed – Monthly summary slides.
- Monitor – No regular communication.
- Keep satisfied – Bi-weekly email summary.
Rinse and repeat
Early in my career I developed a two-day training course for a major bank. I included a multi-choice exam with a 70% pass mark. Out of eleven attendees, one passed.
This taught me a few lessons about information recall. People absorb less than you think, so keep messages simple and repeat them often.
Another issue is lack of attention. No matter how great your monthly update seems to you, half your audience isn’t interested. People skip circular emails that look dull.
You need to keep flogging your message in different formats until it begins to stick.
Take feedback onboard
Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently promoting what’s not working.
– From Anything You Want by Derek Sivers
If no-one’s picking up what you’re putting down, take that feedback to heart. Improve your work, rethink your messaging and try again.
But this won’t happen to you. Because your work is awesome. You just need to get it out there.