A few years ago, when our family was on summer vacation, I had the fortune of visiting the local farmers’ market in Frelighsburg, a quaint village in Quebec’s countryside. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of each farmer’s table filled with purple beets, curly kale, perfect summer squash, and more.
It was a small market with seven or eight tables, and they were set up exquisitely as if they were expecting the Queen to visit that day. There was live music and a pastry chef from Cowansville conducting a cooking class pour les enfants on how to make fresh bread.
The care taken by each farmer to provide not only vegetables, but a full summer experience for their loyal shoppers inspired this article.
How did these farmers design and implement what looks like perfection with their farm setups, i.e., their business content?
As I’ve been writing copy for my website and staring at the computer for days writing and revising my work oftentimes getting stuck, I’ve found inspiration to creating content in the photos from this market.
For some reason, when you’re reading someone else’s work, it’s easier to see the big picture and take a holistic perspective of the overall impact and offer helpful revisions than when it is your own work — at least that’s true for me.
When I’m working with a colleague to develop a cash flow forecast for a client, assisting a client in developing an email campaign to launch their latest product, or helping my son who has to write a report on the life of Martin Luther King Jr., I can whiz through with helpful recommendations to improve the output. However, when it’s my own work that needs improving, it takes more effort.
The perfection process starts after creating an average first version.
To overcome the challenge of creating great content for a business, I’ve found that I need to get out the first version without thinking too much so I have something to react to. This makes the process feel more like a situation where I’m helping someone else and I can separate my ego from the work.
Once I have an average first version, I can make improvements by following a six-step process. These steps provide structure so I can be my own best reviewer and work efficiently without rushing instead of staying stuck with a blank screen.
Step 1: Let Your Work Rest
Once you say to yourself, “OK, I’m done with the first draft,” the review process can begin. You need to give your brain space before you start editing to allow it to let go of the details, and truly reflect on the overall main goal of your work.
If you start to revise too soon, you may not be able to shift your perspective enough to allow improvements to come to mind.
Step 2: Ask If Your Work Accomplishes Big-Picture Goals
If you present your work as it is, will the information and your overall goal be evident? If you want to test this with someone else at this point, you can show your work to a trusted colleague and ask them their impression and what they take away as the primary message.
Step 3: Take Out Extraneous Information
Going into too much detail of related facts or showing fancy charts and graphs that tangentially relate to your work can end up burying the lead. Keep it simple so no one changes the subject.
Step 4: Review Your Business Content
Organizing the content of your project is a key to success, especially if there is a lot of information that you need someone to consume in a short period of time.
Help your audience as much as possible by choosing the appropriate document type (manuscript, spreadsheet, presentation, 3D model, etc.) and formatting with headings, bullets, captions, colors, typefaces, arrows, charts — whatever’s necessary to present the information in bite-size chunks that someone will be able to easily understand.
Once the organization is there, read it again to ensure that your business content shows the audience the information instead of tells them.
Illustrate using words or pictures to generate the sentiments you want your audience to experience.
Step 5: Add the Bells, and Whistles
Now that you have reworked your final product and let it rest for another day, put a bow on it. Provide a sample or example to make it engaging. Think of something that will wow the audience to make your content meaningful to their life and work.
Step 6: Ask yourself, “Is It Worthy of My Reputation?”
You know you’re done when you review your work from top to bottom without making any changes or corrections and you feel super excited about what you’ve created.
At this point, your work is ready for presentation and you’re fully prepared to articulate your goals.
It should also explain your value proposition with anyone whom you share your masterpiece, which by the way is an important by-product of the reviewing process.
And if at the end of the day, we all ask ourselves in all we do, “Is this the content I want my reputation to represent?” then we have done our job.