- The five most common communication styles and the content types best suited for each
- The natural strengths and weaknesses of each style, and how to optimize the former
- How each style best operates within a collaborative group setting
- How to identify which communication style or styles most closely align with you and other members of your content team
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Lauren Siler: Hello and welcome to Newfangled’s final webinar of 2017. My name is Lauren Siler. I’m the director of content strategy. So for those of you expecting Mark, that’s not me. But I lead our content department here at Newfangled and the topic for today is entirely focused on how to design a content strategy based on your natural communication engagement style. So we figured I’d be the best person to take the lead here.
When we meet a lot firms, they’ve bought into content marketing. They understand that it’s something that they need to be involved in for the health of their business, but one of the things, one of the common objections that we hear on a regular basis is that there’s just not enough time to reliably write. Reliably create this content that’s gonna be the fuel for the content marketing plan. And so, to frame the conversation here, it’s easy as the leader of the organization, or as multiple leaders of the organization to just feel like one of two things is the answer to this problem. One, we just put warm bodies on the content team, the marketing team because anybody who has bandwidth should be contributing. The other option is we just don’t do it all. Right? Content marketing is just not worth the time and investment because the people who need to be involved, they’re too busy. They are the busiest people in the firm. They’re the ones with the expertise, and the ones working every day to keep the doors open, so there’s not any room in the schedule to be reliably creating content.
And so, where I wanna begin to day, before we dive into the different types of communication styles, and there are five ones that we’ve observed with working with agencies that are the most prominent, that should inform your choices around your content strategy. I wanna first talk about who from your organization should be involved in your firm’s marketing. So when I work with a firm who is presented with this problem initially, the first thing that I ask is who are your thought leaders? Whoa research the people with the perspective that really makes up the face of your firm? Because those people are the people who have the mind share that needs to be expressed through your marketing. And so one of the first things I wanna debunk off the bat here is that if you can find anybody with a spare moment who happens to work for your organization, they oughta be the ones running the marketing. It’s just not true. The quality of the content that comes out of the minds of somebody who maybe doesn’t have as much experience, or maybe doesn’t have the true expertise inside for your firm is gonna be diminished.
And so that means that you need to first start with whose perspective is it that we want to be sharing? Now that often does mean that the busiest people at the firm, the busiest people inside of your organization are the ones whoa research gonna be on the hook for your firm’s marketing. But as you’ll see here, being part of the marketing team doesn’t always mean that you need to be putting pen to paper. You don’t necessarily have to be a good writer to be a good content marketer. We’ve observed that there are many methods by which you can create content, and those methods are different for different people based on their natural strengths and their natural weaknesses.
So today, we’re gonna talk about the five most common communication styles that we’ve observed in organizations that we’ve worked with on their content strategies and talk about what those natural strengths and weaknesses are, and then what types of content, and what content team roles are ideal for each person.
We’ll start with the orator. And so, you’ll recognize orators on your team as people who are just very charismatic. They love to talk. These are people, people. They adore a stage, and in fact, they do their best thinking if there’s an audience around. So in terms of their strengths, orators are natural performers. They love to engage people. They’re very persuasive with their language. Often times these are individuals who are leading the bus dev process at your firm, and that’s just part of the job. Part of the job is being in a sort of improvisational style, reading the other person in the room, and figuring out how they can present their expertise in a way that’s gonna be compelling to that individual, and that individual in the room is gonna change from time to time. So this person has to be able to pivot, and they thrive on that kind of excitement.
They’re also really excellent in group settings, particularly if you think about this person in a topic ideation meeting, or an editorial team meeting kind of setting. This person is really great to have around because they get really excited about ideas, and they are able to take a seed thought and start to talk about it out loud in a way that gets the entire group going, and gets the entire group sort of bought in onto the concept. And writing and content development outside of writing, so much of it has to do with choosing the right topic for the right person and making sure that that person believes in that topic and they are excited by its possibilities. So the orator is really, really great at helping other content team members see the potential for a particular subject at hand.
As I mentioned, they are incredibly persuasive. They’re engaging. And this makes them really memorable. The things that they say tend to stick in the minds of the people who hear it. You might notice your orators are the ones who get up and they start walking around the room as they’re building an argument, or they tend to talk with their hands, or they just get really big physically as they’re building on a concept or an idea. They are in essence performing without even realizing it.
On the weaknesses side, one thing that you do have to look out for orators is that strong energy, that strong voice can sometimes overpower the ideas of others. By and large, I would say these people are really wonderful in groups for the reasons that I mentioned there. They’re really inspiring. But orators have to be careful to know that they need to leave room for other people’s energy that may not come at a particular topic, or a particular conversation in the same sort of style. Some people need a little bit more breathing room, some time to think quietly to kind of bring their thoughts together, and they’re less likely to throw out an opinion off the bat. It doesn’t mean that they’re not thinking about it. So orators have to practice patience and make sure that they are not the only voice in the room.
Another thing to keep in mind with your orators is that fort he ones that I’ve met, they don’t tend to be great with details. They’re more visionary thinkers. They get excited about the big picture possibility, and they can see much more than any other communication style. They can see the potential for an idea and where it might go long term. Again, that makes them really great in group ideation sessions. But if you ask an orator to be the one managing the details of say a workflow, and be the one managing the logistics of the content plan, they’re gonna struggle with that. It’s not inside of their skill set. So it doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t stay held accountable to your firm’s workflow for content. Absolutely they should. It just means that for these individuals, they shouldn’t be the ones tasked with creating and then managing that process.
The final thing that I’ve noticed about orators is that they do tend to be a little bit distractible. It’s part of their excitable nature, so they think about an idea, and they start to run with it and then they go. Then they’re sort of on to the next thing, and on to the next thing. It’s part of what can be charming about them, but sometimes it’s easy for them to sort of lose sight of the original strategy at hand. So it’s helpful if in the room, particularly in ideation sessions, but this is also a factor when you’re thinking about editors. For someone to have a practical understanding of what the strategic goals are of each piece of content that the orator is working on, making sure that the persona is considered both during topic ideation, and then when the piece of content comes to life either in draft mode or other, that that content is still staying true to the strategic parameters that were decided upon in terms of personas, and messaging strategy, and that kind of thing. Again, great for an editorial role outside of the orator to help keep them on track.
Now, when we think about the ideal content team roles for your orators, there are a couple of things that I would recommend. First, and this is probably no surprise, but I would say guide your orator to be involved in more performance based media. So they might not be as interested in writing all of the blog posts, or developing a white paper, or putting together a research report. But these people are naturally captivating on a stage. They’re really good about talking about their expertise. And so there are plenty of media that give the orator the opportunity to capitalize on that strength of theirs. So things like webinars are really wonderful for these people. Podcasts are great. Even putting together a quick video where they are discussing their expertise on camera. The nice thing about this is that the individual here is an expert. The thinking is inside of their head. And they are most skilled at expressing that expertise when asked to do so basically on the fly. The more that they have to sit down and formulate a cogent argument on paper, the more their own creativity and spirit around the topic becomes dampened. SO it’s not as if they can’t write, but they’re gonna be more naturally suited to more of these performance based media channels, like webinars, podcasts, videos.
They’re great at idea cultivation. So when you’re in your topic ideation session have your orator in the room because even when you’re discussing assignments for other team members, the orator is really, really great at inspiring people and getting people excited about an idea. And also shaping the vision of that particular topic. So they are not great copy editors, but they are wonderful messaging editors. They’re wonderful for taking a seed of a thought, and then working with the team to build out what the full argument should be, and doing that in a way that’s gonna be motivating to others.
Now, there are gonna be times when the orator needs tow write. We can’t get around that, and so if that is the case, one thing to keep in mind is that you can use other members of your team to help extract the thinking from the orator in the best way possible, and interviews are a nice way to do that. So for instance, maybe you’ve got somebody on your team who puts together a list of questions related to a topic that the orator is excited about. Don’t show this individual the questions ahead of time because again, remember they like to be in an improvisational format. They like to have to think on their feet, and they are actually at their best that way. So don’t show them the questions. Put together the questions, sit down with the orator, and either record the conversation, and then use the transcription of the conversation to craft the article and that can be done by the orator or another member of the team. Or just post the transcription itself. We’ve done both here at Newfangled and it works really well. So think about creative ways to help the orator put pen to paper if that is a channel that they must use every now and again. Okay.
The next thing style that we’re gonna talk about is the researcher. In a lot of ways, the researcher will probably look very, very, very different than the orators on your group. So they’re the type that, in a group setting, they’re gonna listen more than they’re gonna speak. And it doesn’t mean that they’re not engaged in the conversation but they require many data inputs before they form an assessment or a perspective on their own. That’s just where they feel most comfortable. That’s their home base, and so in terms of their natural strengths, researchers are incredibly curious and inquisitive. They’re likely to be asking a bunch of questions as they are working their way through their own perspective on a topic. They have excellent editorial skills because they tend to be pretty detail oriented and that lends itself to a good editor. Somebody who’s going to be able to, not only catch just standard copy editing mistakes, but they’re good at vetting how thorough a topic has been expressed once it’s in draft mode. So researchers are really great at that. And because they have a methodical approach to the way that they develop their own insight, the output from these people tends to be very thoughtful, very well informed. It’s unlikely that with a researcher, you would be looking at something that they created and to feel like they left something huge on the table. It’s just probably not gonna happen with these people.
Now, on the weaknesses side, one of the biggest things that I’ve observed with researchers is that they do tend to be prone to perfectionism. They get a little precious about their work, and it’s because they are constantly asking themselves about what question they didn’t ask. What did they forget to include inside of their perspective? And so it’s different for them to really call something done, and they may need a little bit of encouragement from the rest of the team to say hey this is ready to go. Let’s get it out there, and move on to the next piece.
Unlike the orator, the researcher really doesn’t enjoy improvisation. They like to plan. They like to know what’s coming next. They like to have a process and follow it. That’s their safety net for sure. And one thing I have seen from time to time. This isn’t always true, but it’s something to be aware of if you feel like this description is maybe speaking to your style of engagement and communication. Sometimes, because they are so curious and they are so inquisitive, their questions can sometimes be a little bit deflating for other members in the team during an ideation phase. Questions are great to help cultivate a topic, and these people are really essential to a productive topic ideation session. But you have to be careful about one, how you deliver those questions so that you’re not sort of dampening the spirit of the ideation session. But also, team members need to understand that questions are how this person processes and how they work. When this individual asks a question, they’re not proposing a contrary opinion. It’s just how they naturally work through these things.
So in terms of what their ideal content team roles would be, researchers I found to be really, really great at longer form or written pieces. So the catch here is that they’re gonna need a little bit more time typically because they have more steps. They need to have a lot of freedom and space to research and formulate their ideas. But when they do, they tend to be very excellent at forming a cogent argument in the written word. So gated pieces like your white papers, in depth thoughtful content types like eBooks, or maybe even research reports, things that require a lot of thought and planning but maybe don’t come out as frequently as some of your other content types like your podcast or your blog posts would be ideal for this person. Because of everything we’ve talked about with them so far, you could imagine that they’re great at collaborating during the planning and outline phase of a topic, and they really enjoy that. They feel valued in that process because they’ve got a perspective and they’re likely to ask questions that people whoa research falling into some of these other categories might not think to ask. And so it’s really rewarding for them to be invited in to the editorial process very early on.
And then, if they must perform, if you’ve got a platform inside of your content portfolio, something like a podcast or maybe you’re doing videos, that kind of thing, it’s not that they can’t be successful in that medium. It’s not that they can’t be charismatic. It’s just that they need to know it’s coming, and they need a little bit more time to be able to prepare and plan for how that’s gonna go. They’ll be much more at ease and they’ll sound more natural if they’d been given a little bit of breathing room in the content workflow phase. And so sometimes I’ve seen that be at odds between researchers and orators. If an orator wants to collaborate with a researcher or something like a webinar or a podcast, the orator doesn’t typically require very much prep time because they express themselves best with very little planning, when they have to just go live and make it happen. The researchers don’t work like that. And so if you’ve got these two people collaborating on your team, it’s important that they understand each other’s engagement styles so that both are set up for optimal success, for whatever type of content that they are pursuing.
Let’s talk about the visualizer. The visualizer, we … I see this communication style a lot because we work with a lot of creative services firms. Advertising agencies, marketing agencies, PR firms, branding agencies, things like that. These are really creative people and they tend to see the world through symbols and picture. So what I mean is that they’re visual learners and they’re visual thinkers. They retain their information best if it’s presented to them ina visual setting. Often times with a visualizer, you’ll see them ina group meeting, and they’re the ones most likely to be maybe doodling in the margins of their Moleskine notebook. Or they might be the first to grab a marker, and go up to the whiteboard and express a concept that you’ve all been talking at about on the theoretical level, and suddenly they’re able to kind of draw little pictures, or doodles, or symbols that help bring it all into focus for the group in an interesting way.
And that’s one of the big strengths of the visualizers. They are just supremely creative people and they understand how to connect concepts in unexpected ways. So that makes them excellent collaborative partners for the res of the team because they are the most likely ina group setting to be coming up with a new way to think about things, a new perspective to share that no one else in the team has maybe though of, and is probably gonna come to them in pretty short order.
Now, weaknesses, I have found that the visualizer is the most distractible member of the team. They tend to … and this happens often outside of the editorial team meeting. They get excited about an idea, and then they are the most likely to maybe just forget abut what the original strategic goals were because when they start to dive into development, they’ve got a million other creative approaches that they wanna take to that particular concept. And so they start down that road without thinking about the strategic implications. So that distractibility means that they really need the close collaboration of an editor on the team.
I found that the visualizers also tend to be relatively uncomfortable with process and detail. That can come into play particularly if your firm is trying to employ very specific content development workflow process. So what I mean by that is maybe for this blog, we know we’re gonna have an outline. And then it’s gonna go into a draft, then an internal review, followed by a second draft, et cetera … These people are bad at that. They don’t enjoy it. It feels limiting to them and it feels rigid. And sometimes it can be quite deflating ’cause they feel like their creativity is being dampened.
And so my advice for those of you collaborating with a visualizer is to allow them to figure out what their own creative style is gonna be for development. They may, for instance, need to develop an outline but it’s probably not gonna look like a header with three sub bullets and then a second header and three sub bullets that’s gonna be submitted to the team inside of a Word doc. That probably not how they operate, but if you give them a pen and paper, allow them to sort of sketch out how this is gonna look, or maybe they actually start the imagery before they work on the text. Or maybe you ask them to think about if they had to draw this concept what it would look like, that planning process works really well to these people even if it seems foreign to other members of the team who need a more traditional writing and workflow style. Typically, I’ve also found because they’re not particularly detail oriented, these are not the ideal people to have be your primary cop editors.
So, in terms of their ideal content team roles, having them as one of the concept developers very early on in the ideation process works really well because again, they can see avenues for development, they can connect complex concepts in ways that a lot of team members aren’t gonna see. And they are good writers, but what I found is that the quality of the writing is so heavily influenced by how excited they are about the topic at hand. They need to feel inspired by what this is, whatever the topic or assignment at hand is. They really need to believe in it, and they need to have a firm perspective on it. If it’s gonna require them to go out and do a ton of outside research, it’s gonna get … It’s gonna fall flat for them really quickly, and the quality of their writing is gonna fall drastically. So the topic really, really matters here, and that’s something that is a careful thing that you have to balance because you wanna make sure that everything that everybody’s writing is strategically sound. So it’s really important the visualizer understands the overall content strategy so that they can sign up for assignments that feel most interesting and opportunistic to them.
They’re great at visually expressing complex ideas, so take advantage of that. Most of them I found have a design background and so they’re really great at enhancing the written form with different visual formats, including illustrations, or some sort of graphical representation of the content. Infographics are a great project for these people to be working on because that’s sort of the culmination of all their skills. It takes an interesting idea that’s communicated primarily in a visual form and a lot of visualizers I work with get really excited by that concept and they’ve got the skill set to back it up.
Their critical in ideation sessions because they are just so creative and they’re really good at throwing out a new idea or helping the whole team come to look at an idea that is sort of new perspective that no one else has considered. So having them in ideation session is really refreshing and fun, and you’ll probably find that once they get warmed up and start throwing out ideas, you would never have an ideation session without them.
The fourth engagement style that we wanna talk about today is the collaborator. So the collaborator, they sort of become the central node of the content team. Their best work is brought tot he surface through group discussion. So in terms of what their natural strengths are, I would say one, they’re really, really good at bringing people together. They enjoy it. They thrive on a group setting. They make these types of meetings really fun, and they’re really good at bringing out ideas in other people. They’re great listeners, and that helps them express their thinking in the best way ’cause a group setting is sort of the safest environment for them. If you put them solo, or you throw them on a stage, they’re gonna be a little bit less comfortable, but they really believe in the power of the group dynamic. And so, having them run the editorial team meeting or kind of be responsible for that is one way to kinda capture on that skill for them.
I’ve also found more than any other content type, or communication style, the collaborator tends to be the most unhindered by their own egos. They’re not looking to further their own professional brand. They believe int he marketing strategy as a vehicle to elevate the whole firm, and they want to use whatever resources internally they have at their disposal to make that happen. So in terms of how that might evidence itself inside of an editorial team meeting, they’re really good at objectively looking at an idea that somebody else has thrown out and maybe crafting it or kind of shaping it so that it really meets the expertise of the natural strengths of whoever threw out that idea. And some of the other communication styles get really, really tied to their own ideas and their own perspective. And there is just a tiny little bit of ego there that I don’t see in the collaborator. And os they can be a helpful sort of refreshing third party to have in that group dynamic. And as I mentioned, they’re really good at building on the ideas of others. They’re great listeners and so if a few people are kind of throwing out seed thoughts, the collaborator is excellent at weaving them all together into a concept that everybody’s excited about.
On the weaknesses front, I found collaborators to struggle working solo. It stresses them out. They feed on the insight of others and so there’s a lot of second guessing that happens when they’re working solo. Sometimes that’s related to just experience. Sometimes they’re a more junior level person who just hasn’t had the opportunity to firmly develop their perspective on the topic at hand, then they’re unsure. They wanna make sure that they’re kind of holding their own in the group setting, and so that can be a bit of a struggle for them. But even with the more experienced collaborators I’ve worked with, they can work one on one, but the quality the of their output is much elevated if they’re collaborating with even one other person works really well for them.
Sometimes I’ve noticed hat the collaborators will seek outside opinion too often. So that can ultimately slow down the process for whatever piece of content it is that they are working on because again, they just crave other’s insight and they wanna make sure that they don’t get too far down the road, and then have to back way up and kind of invest more time and reinvent the wheel several times. So because they trust the expertise of their team members, they tend to seek that out, sometimes more regularly than they should. Having the confidence to shape their own perspective on something and really firmly put a stake in the ground and just chase that and present it to the world is something that they struggle with, they have to work on a little bit.
And keeping with this theme, they do tend to lean heavily on the editorial skills of others, and that happens because they know that the rest of the team is gonna be involved, and they know that typically the collaborator is not always serving as the primary editor on the content team. So they’ve got a safety net here with the rest of their team members. And so those editorial guidance could be at the initial topic ideation phase. They might throw out an idea and then lean heavily on their partners to shape it and to grow it. It could be during the initial drafting phase. They might have somebody checking in on that draft every single iteration of it. Or even at the very end, sometimes these people are just relying on others to determine what the final little tweak should be. So taking ownership and having confidence to take ownership in the content that they’re developing is an area that this particular communication style could improve upon.
Now, in terms of their role in the content team, they are wonderful at managing the logistics of the content plan. So they are really good at keeping track of what everyone else is doing, and they’re very interested in what everyone else’s assignments are. And as I mentioned, they’re really excited about the marketing strategy lifting up the whole organization as a whole. And so they wanna further that mission, and managing the logistics of the meetings, managing the deadlines, and the milestones for each piece of content that’s in development, work really well.
Another way that I’ve seen collaborators excel on the marketing team is to assist others with things like round table discussions or interviews. So I mentioned earlier that the orator is really … if they need to write, it’s helpful to interview them because it sort of puts them in that presentation style and kind of gets them into that improvisational head space. The collaborator is a great person to bring in to conduct that interview. They’re gonna be very interested in bringing up the best expertise from the interviewee, and because they’re so good at bringing multiple personalities together they can manage a room pretty well. So if you’ve got multiple people sitting at at table and discussing a certain topic, the collaborator can be a good person to sort of run that discussion, guide those questions, and weave the story throughout while the other team members are the ones kind of throwing up the primary perspectives on behalf of the firm.
And all of this is to say that they can’t create content their own. They definitely can. What I would advise is that they are good for short, quick kind of content types that make their way onto the site more frequently. So I don’t see a lot of collaborators for instance, taking a lead on a marquee piece of data content for the quarter, like a white paper. That rarely happens, but they are good at smaller assignments that they feel like they can wrap their arms around and feel comfortable owning on their own. And the blog is a great place for that to happen. You should be publishing regularly to your blog. Probably two to four times a month, you should be posting something to your blog. And so having somebody who can own that process is a huge asset to the overall team.
Alright, and the final communication style that we’ll talk about today is the wordsmith. And so as the name implies, these are people who are just natural writers. They just love it. They’re great at communicating in the written word. That’s where they feel most comfortable. And if you’ve got a wordsmith on your team, that’s great. It can be easy to just assume that they are gonna carry the bulk of the work when it comes to your content marketing. But what we found is that having different leaders from your organization who really have different perspectives is important. So we can’t put all of the marketing on the wordsmith. That being said, they are really, really great writers and they’re incredibly detail oriented editors because in many cases, they’ve been writing for a long, long time. They’ve got a ton of experience around this. They can own their own writing assignments and often times they prefer to work without the help of an outside editor, which I would not recommend actually. Even your wordsmith need an editor who is not the person originally creating the content. But that being said, they’re really great at editing everybody else’s content because they’ve just been writing so long and doing their own editorial work for so long. They’re just really skilled at it.
The other thing to keep in mind with a wordsmith is that they know that they’re good writers, and they tend to be good coaches to help other members of your team be better writers. And I think this is something that we can all … I would encourage you to think about on your team as your sort of running through the Rolodex of people who work at your firm and people who contribute to your marketing, all of these people who … all of these different styles that we’re running through, they have their own individual strengths and weaknesses of course, but that can be an asset in helping build up each other’s weaknesses. And the coaching people to be better writers, the wordsmith is really good at that, and they tend to enjoy it. It’s something that makes them feel valued on the team.
As I mentioned, on the weaknesses front, they do struggle to work productively with editors, so the wordsmith is used to be their own editor, and normally, they are quite aware that they’re most likely the best writer in the room. And so, they don’t like to be told how to amend their content once it’s written. They also don’t like to stick to a formal editorial process. A lot of people who struggle with writing, having a very clear path for development, having like an outline phase and then gently moving into draft, and the having some time for internal review and edits before moving into another draft. That’s more comfortable because it breaks down the content development process into digestible bits. The wordsmith doesn’t really need that kind of process. They can sit down at their computer, and crank out an article and it’s gonna be pretty good on the first try, and they’re gonna skip right over the outline phase. And sometimes, they’re gonna push to skip over the internal review. They just wanna get it up on the site and move to the next thing.
So I would encourage the wordsmiths who are on the webinar, maybe you’ve got colleagues who you would think kind of fit this mold. Help them understand the value of an editor. Your editors are gonna be able to see things that you couldn’t see because you were the original author. They can also take on the burden of remembering the original strategy during the editorial process because you have in your head the idea that you’re trying to express and it makes so much sense to you because it’s inside of your own mind. Having a third person make sure that the idea that was in your head was properly written out is essential no matter how great of a writer you are.
Most of my wordsmiths that I’ve met also dislike live performance. It’s not their bag, and often times that’s not really a problem with the content teams that I’ve worked with because the sort of holy grail of this is I wish I could just write. A lot of people wanna be better writers and they wanna be able to do it more frequently so if you’ve got a wordsmith on your team, typically they’re being put in the position of taking on the bulk of the writing, things like blogs, white papers et cetera …
I also found that these people, similar to the researchers, can be quiet in group ideation sessions. They’re not always the first to throw out an idea or to contribute inside of the group setting. What they tend to do is when they figure out what their assignment’s gonna be, their wheel are already turning about how exactly it’s gonna be expressed in the written format. So sometimes they get lost in their own head that way, and what might need a little bit of prodding to help other members on the team cultivate their own ideas.
So, as we’ve talked about here in terms of their ideal content team roles, they’re definitely best in the written form. That can look a lot of ways, so the blog, white papers, eBooks, research reports. They’re great on short deadlines typically because it’s easiest for them to write. So they won’t require a long content development process so I’ve seen teams use the wordsmith in more of the blogging strategy because that hits the site so regularly. And then maybe use their research who needs more time but it also an excellent writer to do things like the white paper or the eBook. For your marquee pieces of content like that, I would encourage putting those two roles together if you have them. So having the wordsmith and the researcher collaborate on a piece of content that’s gonna be maybe longer form and more in depth, you’re gonna get those excellent research skills of the researcher so that the perspective that you’re expressing is fully comprehensive in you’re not missing anything. But the wordsmith may be taking the lead on the writing because they’re likely gonna be even a little bit more skilled at that than the researcher’s gonna be.
I mentioned that they’re thorough detail-oriented editors, just because they’ve been doing it so long. And the thing with the wordsmith is that, if they must perform, similar to the researcher, and planning is important, and for the wordsmith that’s gonna come in the form of notes. So allowing them to have some time to sort of map out what their thoughts on a particular topic are gonna be, and then using a medium that allows them to use them. So if you’re pursuing short videos, for instance, one of the types of content that a lot of firms that I work with use or having a couple of people get on camera for maybe 5 to 7 minutes and discuss a particular topic and then publish the transcripts so that you can get SCO equity out of it, that’s a great way to kind of extract the thinking from somebody like an orator, but if you’re gonna put the wordsmith in that situation, think of the details. Like if the camera is framed on them where they don’t have access, or they don’t feel comfortable looking down at their notepad, the quality of the content that they are presenting is gonna be minimized. So maybe think about having something outside of the frame that they can refer to. Even something very small like that would go a long way toward helping the wordsmith be more successful in that type of medium.
So that’s sort of the overview of the five most common communication styles that we’ve seen. I think now we’re gonna take a few questions.
Mark O’Brien: Yeah. Thanks Lauren. That was awesome and it was such a luxury to be able to sit here and listen-
Lauren Siler: Yeah, you’re kicked backed.
Mark O’Brien: … to your webinar. Yeah. I was like going through Q&A. I was dealing with some technical issues. It was really fun to be able to just be a fly on the wall. That was wonderful. Thanks for all the content. And also as a reminder, we’ve got the white paper on the site as well that people can check out, if they want to read more about this if their learning style is more reading than watching. So we’ve got a bunch of questions. If you have questions that are on your mind right now, go ahead and use that question panel over in the go to webinar sidebar and just throw ’em in there, and we’ll get to as many as we can right now. The first one I would like to ask you Lauren is from David from Encinitas. David I didn’t realize you were Encinitas. I knew you were in Southern California, but not quite that town. I love that town.
Lauren Siler: Love Encinitas. I’ve been trying to convince Mark to open Newfangled West in Encinitas all year. I’ve been unsuccessful so far.
Mark O’Brien: David you can help with that. But David … Lauren, the question David had was are there any of the five communication styles that must be kept in house or any of that could be outsourced? So any that lend themselves more to in house or outsourcing?
Lauren Siler: Yeah, that’s a great question. What I would say there is that if you must outsource one of these styles, the collaborator is potentially one that works because of the five, the collaborator is the least likely to be putting out the most thought leadership. They’re doing more of the logistical management of the program, which is essential. I don’t mean to diminish the role of the communicator. But when we think about who needs to be involved in shaping the messaging of your marketing, you really want the people who are in house at your firm who’ve developed the expertise and been really responsible for growing the business over time and who will continue to shape the business ongoing, the ones making the decisions about where you’re going as an organization. So those people need to be involved in developing their thought leadership. The collaborator tends to be really involved in managing the editorial plan, and managing the deadlines, and looking at the analytics for how the content performed, and things like that. That’s a role that doesn’t necessarily have to exist inside of your four walls.
Mark O’Brien: Cool. Good. That’s really helpful. David hopefully that cleared things up. Vance has a question. How do you best advise a small organization, such as a one to three person firm of which we have a number one this webinar today, distribute these styles? So if you’ve got an art director, a developer, and a designer, how do you distribute the styles? And is that even the right way to think about it? Are you assigning styles or …
Lauren Siler: Yeah that was gonna be my first point there. So it’s not about forcing people to fit one of these styles, or asking people to do that. What you wanna look at is just have a really honest candid conversation about the natural strengths and weaknesses of the people at your organization. Talk about what the … I mean the amazing thing about our industry today is that there are so many platforms for you to express your expertise and they all require different skill sets. So have a frank conversation about that and see who’s most comfortable doing what. The main thing is that you want people on your marketing team who actually have expertise, actually have a perspective to share. If that doesn’t exist, then all of this is kind of moot because it’s gonna be such a slog just going and researching before you put pen to paper, before you step on camera, whatever it may be.
So start there. I think in terms of the roles I most often see fit these … this is a generalization so there are certainly exceptions … but I do see creative leads tend to be more of the visualizer. I do see the principals of organizations are often either the orator or the wordsmith, depending on what their skill set is. Many, many, many principals I work with do fit that orator role because they’re working on, they’re leading the bus dev efforts, so they’re often presenting and sort of pitching and working on their persuasive skills to get people to do business with them. And that lends itself really well to expressing complicated ideas in an oral format. So I think …
Mark O’Brien: Cool. Yeah that’s great. Actually picking up on that topic, is there a style … and I think I already know the answer to this … but is there a style that lends itself to creating better content?
Lauren Siler: No.
Mark O’Brien: That’s not the right answer.
Lauren Siler: It’s not? Oh no. We’re not gonna turn this into a podcast promo. I have the microphone Mark. No. No. So it’s not at all about that. It’s about each communication style definitely has the ability to create really great quality content. Where you get into trouble is when you start forcing people to be in situations that they are less comfortable with because it doesn’t fit how they naturally engage with the world without taking the proper precautions. And that last caveat is important. So I’m not saying that an orator can never develop a piece of content. I’m saying it’s gonna be a little bit harder for them to do that in the best way, so maybe you plan to have them be interviewed and have somebody help craft that for them. Similarly, I’m not saying that a wordsmith can never be successful inside of a podcast or a webinar. I’m just saying that it’s not gonna git their natural skill set most likely, and so you should plan for it. Allow them to have some notes nearby, and give them plenty of time to prepare so that they are set up for success.
Mark O’Brien: Great, thank you. Okay, now what if someone’s not sure what their style is? How do they go about discovering their style? How do you start?
Lauren Siler: Yeah, I get this question a lot with the clients that I consult. So I think again, having a really honest conversation around what your instincts are, and how you tend to be. Just ask them these questions. So if you’re ina group setting and you are looking at an array of options for your content portfolio, asking a simple question of who has an interest in something like a webinar? Who feels comfortable being on camera? Who is that a total no go for? If you mention writing, who’s cringing at that thought and why, and what has their experience been with it in the past? I think just having the conversation around the types of content that are at your disposal and making it a really safe space for people to honestly express where they feel comfortable, and where they feel like they may struggle a little bit more is a really good place to start. And then you can start mapping that to the different communication styles and build out your content portfolio from there.
Mark O’Brien: Great. Great. Great. Alright. This is fun. Lots of really good questions. Let’s do one more. So this question is … I bet this is something that a lot of people on the webinar deal with in various ways since we have a lot of creative firms on the webinar today. And the question is, how do you get the visualizer to understand the importance of content and not let the design aka visuals over power the content?
Lauren Siler: Yeah. I think having a role on the team outside of the visualizer that can help bring them back to the strategy is starting with the strategy of the topic itself is really important. A lot of times what will happen in an editorial meeting with a visualizer is they’ll throw out an idea because they heard somebody else discussing a topic and they were sort of doodling in the corner and they figured out how to express it visually. They get really excited about the art first, and then they back into the strategy from there. And that’s not a great way to approach it because the whole point of your content is to make sure that you’re targeting the right people and that you’re writing about the things that they care about. So the visualizer, it’s a challenge for them. It’s difficult for them to start with the strategy and so they sometimes require an editor to one, be the main person helping them decide on a topic. So sometimes the visualizers are not the ones making that decision, at least not in a vacuum.
That being said, they need to be really excited about it as I mentioned. So the visualizer needs to feel passionate about the topic, and they just need a second kind of person there helping them understand what the strategy is. And then, making sure that that editor is present in the process every step of the way. And so when the editor … I’m not saying that a visualizer shouldn’t have to do an outline. I mentioned that they’re not great with process. Have them do an outline, but have them do an outline that makes sense for them. That might mean that they just have a blank piece of paper and a pen and they’re sketching out how they might go about this. Then they sit down with the editor and the strategy details are right in front of them as they’re checking in at that point. Okay, we’re targeting this persona, this is the messaging strategy that we’re going for. Are we aligned? Yes, great. Alright. Go off and go on to the next step. And then check in. Alright, we’ve got a draft. Are we still targeting the right person? Keep coming back to the strategy ’cause they are distractible. They will need reminding.
Mark O’Brien: Perfect. Alright. Well thank again Lauren. This was a lot of fun, especially yeah for me.
Lauren Siler: Yeah, thanks.
Mark O’Brien: Thanks everyone for joining. We had a great crowd today, and this was recorded as always and you’ll be getting a link in the next week or so to the recording if you want to go back and check it out. And this wraps up the 2018 webinar season and it was a really fun one and I know a lot of people who are on this webinar and were on other webinars this year as well. So thanks for that. Hope you all have a wonderful end of the year and a great start to the new year.
Our next webinar will be on our annual metrics report. So each year, we poll the stats of our high performing clients and look at how the high performers, meaning the people who are doing a great job with their organic bus dev efforts, what patterns they share, and what are the key stats driving their success. And so that will be … is that February or March? One of those two. It’ll be in Q1. And you’ll get of course an email about that and we’re gonna have some guest agencies. Some of those high performers will be on the webinar themselves to talk about their experience. So that’s always a very, very popular topic, and so we look forward to hopefully seeing many of you back then. Until then, have a great end to 2017, and a great start to 2018. Bye.
Lauren Siler: Bye.