There’s a concept that’s pervasive in the content marketing field that each time you put your brand and message in front of the audience – wherever they are in the customer journey – you should “delight” them.

It’s not a bad idea. It encourages you to find new and interesting ways to create a positive impression of your company in the mind of the audience. You want to surprise, inform and help them and they should come away from the interaction feeling as if your company is a good one and one they will consider doing business with in the future.

A basic understanding of audience dynamics will tell you that’s not always possible, and striving to attain such goals, as laudable as they may be, will only drive you a little more insane every time you try.

Ditch the Unrealistic Obligation of Delight

With all of that being said, there are a number of ways to adjust your thinking so it’s more in-line with what’s actually achievable, freeing you from the burden of feeling that every interaction must knock everyone’s socks off and, failing that, you’re a tremendous failure.

  • Embrace being offensive: I’m not saying you should go out of your way to honk people off, but understand that not everyone will be delighted by your content or react well to it because the best content – regardless of format, genre or goal – is inherently divisive.
  • Understand uncertainty: With so much up for grabs in terms of how, where and when someone reads, listens to or watches what you’ve created you have to allow for some variance in how it’s received, if at all. Even your best targeting efforts can’t ensure you’re not hitting someone at just the wrong moment.
  • Remember your customers are not personas: The main problem with the buyer persona model is that by definition it starts from the assumption the person is, has been or could be interested in buying what you’re selling. But people themselves are a lot more complex than even the most complex and complete data might make them out to be.

Again, the goal here is not to discourage you from trying to reach your audience with relevant, timely, useful and actionable messages. Go forth and do that, with my blessing.

It’s simply that management and leadership expectations need to be adjusted to be more realistic and achievable. It may not be Jack’s fault the email campaign he oversaw returned half the average success for previous efforts, it’s just that it hit the majority of recipients at the wrong moment, something that was completely out of his control. If it keeps happening, that’s a different conversation. But don’t judge someone’s efforts entirely on one instance.

Above all, don’t forget that putting something out in the world requires creativity and courage. When you are sure of the eventual results, it means you’re operating without fear and don’t have the courage to see how the effort turns out. You have to go out on a limb, not play it safe. Courage, then, means going beyond what you know will turn out well into the realm of what may turn out poorly. The risk is great, but so is the reward, as courageous content often gets the best reactions and results.

In short, don’t worry about delighting your audience every time you take a shot. Do what you can in the best way you can and hope that all those factors that exist outside your oversight align in your favor.