There’s a documentary series called Couples Therapy on Showtime that is worth watching. It follows a handful of couples over 12 weekly sessions with a therapist, Dr. Orna Guralnik, and highlights the struggles of helping these couples with their stories.
When she asks questions, she’s most interested in what’s under the patterns of interaction. And Guralnick isn’t just looking at how something’s being said or interpreted by a partner, she wants to know where its coming from, so she can then train the couples to identify the patterns when they come up and adjust accordingly.
There are really strong seeming couples and couples hanging on by threads. But they all are in couples therapy to get to a better place in their relationships.
But all of them are vets. They’ve known each other for years and fallen into patterns of interaction based on assumptions or conclusions they’ve drawn about each other from perspectives colored by their own pasts.
And these patterns become almost unavoidable once they get well worn enough.
Husband shuts down because he can’t do anything right. Wife feels ignored and devalued because, she thinks, the husband doesn’t care, tries to control the situation. Husband doesn’t want to encourage what he views as attempts to control him so he withdraws even more.
Building an audience on content isn’t much different.
You communicate (using content) with an evolving audience for years. Over time patterns emerge in how you communicate.
Some are productive, they help you develop or strengthen a relationship with an audience. I think of funnels as well worn paths of user with pointy problem finding your initially sticky solution, signing up, getting an email sequence of a free course with option for a more robust paid solution.
Done right these can really structure and orient a productive relationship with an audience member.
And some patterns are harmful or become maladaptive.
Times change. Decades long relationships have to account for the way gender roles evolve. The funnel landing page that converted well three years ago looks spammy now.
Needs evolve. You can evolve faster than your partner or vice versa. We call it growing apart. When what your’e doing feels like pivoting instead of building on a foundation, it becomes really easy to misinterpret in a changing context, either by search engines or new users or old users expecting the same old when you’re ready for something new.
Issues compound. If you don’t keep the lines of communication clear and open, being on the same page becomes almost impossible. Your website is the most important tool of communication you have. If it’s a dump, a junk yard of ideas or past conversations, if there’s no process in place, how will you build a relationship with an audience without an ability to effectively communicate solutions to audience problem sets.
The net effect is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding.
The way couples solve for this in the show is fascinating. The hope is that that there is enough love and desire for more from the relationship for both people to commit to identifying their patterns together, resolving to interrupt those patterns by talking openly and honestly with consistency, and come out on the other side stronger.
They are dealing in hard-earned growth, pure and simple.
But you’re not a couple. You can’t just go to couple’s therapy, identify your issues, and then work through ways to improve your relationship with your audience.
I don’t want to be your couples therapy but I do want to help you develop that deeper stronger connection with a growing audience.
In a few days I’m releasing a blueprint for a content audit designed just for experts with audiences. I’m also working through a couple content audits with experts right now. Stay posted!