Part II: Planning Your Challenge Content

by Peter Mansour

Choosing your challenge

Choosing a topic

Of course, the first step to launching your challenge is deciding the topic of your challenge. A great place to start to is to think through your personal journey.  Where were you when you first started?  What advice to you wish someone gave you?  What were your own biggest questions you had at the beginning?

Next, a great place to go for inspiration is combing through questions your followers have asked you? What questions come up the most often? What problems are they struggling to solve? What areas are they focused on improving?

These questions are key for developing a challenge that will be valuable to your users.  Key points to consider when choosing are 1) is it accessible, 2) is it measurable, and 3) is it cool?

The best challenges are those that make you better and make you feel good for achieving that outcome.  You want people to be proud of their accomplishment and to share their pride with their networks.  That means your challenge must be within reach of your average follower.  If your challenge is too difficult, it will result in a high level of dropouts.  While dropping out doesn’t necessarily mean you lose that user forever, it always means that your user hasn’t gotten the most possible value out of your challenge.  It also great lowers the chances that they will share with their own networks.

Similarly, the best way to increase a participant’s price is by making your challenge measurable.  Some examples may be:

Note in the last example, you really want you challenge to be attainable.  Most of us could never complete an entire novel in 30 days.  However, coming up with an outline is definitely something that’s within reach. By breaking a daunting task into mini-actionable tasks, you can also set yourself up for your next challenge.

Of course, not all challenges, can be directly measurable.  Some challenges have a more subjective outcome.  For example, a photography portrait challenge is difficult to directly measure.  However, this leads to the final point- make it cool.  You want the result of your challenge to be something that the participant wants to share.

It imperative that you keep that final act of sharing in mind when creating your challenge.  For example, you can set up a challenge that is “Be more organized in 15 days.”  There is nothing wrong with this challenge.  However, compare it to “Organize your pantry in 30 days.” The latter is far more likely to result in a share on Instagram and Facebook, featuring beautiful before and after pictures.

Another thing to keep in mind when determining your challenge topic is what you want to get out of this challenge. Are you looking to sell follow-on services? Maybe sell a premium challenge in the future?  Did you just want to increase your number of followers? The first would emphasize getting more serious users who will convert to qualified leads, while the second who be more at the top of the funnel should be accessible to most amount of people possible.

Finally, what will you call your challenge? Make sure you include all of the elements to a successful challenge in your title. You could create a “30-day pull-up challenge”, but it will most likely not appeal to very many people.  It may be accessible, but it’s not directly measurable or cool. A much better title would be, “Pull-ups like a Navy Seal: 10 in a row in 30 days.” The second is far more measurable and elicits the emotional aspiration of being like a navy seal.

Your title should include the key pieces of information:

  • What will I learn?
  • How long is your challenge?
  • Who is it meant for?

A good title should keep in mind the 3 “A’s” : Attention, Aspiration, Attainability. It should grab your user’s attention with something interesting and snappy.  It should align to an Aspiration they may have, and finally, it should feel like it is something that they could potentially complete.

Planning your content

When planning your content, make sure the length of your challenge is driven by the value you are delivering.  A common mistake new challenge creators make is deciding they want to create a 30-day challenge and then attempting to fill those thirty days.  Inevitably, challenge creators that do this end up stuffing their challenge with fluff and diluting the value. You are much better off shortening your challenge to 7 or 5 days, but ensuring those 5 days are filled with valuable insights and actionable and measurable exercises.

Conversely, don’t try to cram too much into your challenges.  Remember, that a challenge needs to be attainable. Any exercise that requires more than 45 minutes of work from your participants a day, will most likely be met with high dropout rates. You are much better off breaking that challenge into several smaller challenges.

One thing you will need to consider is how you will deliver your challenge.  Perhaps you will provide your participant with the entire challenge from the onset.  This can be useful in qualifying your participants before they begin the challenge but could also adversely affect stickiness.

Consider your media format. You may choose to keep in simple and stick to a written format such as a e-mail or PDF.  Or you may choose to take it up a notch and provide video content.  You may even choose to include live streaming sessions.

Remember that your challenge can change over time.  You don’t need to have all of this done the very first time you launch a challenge.  The thing to focus on is the best way to fulfill your promised goal to your challenge participants. The more successful your participants are, the more successful you will be in growing your base and developing a devoted community that can drive sales and engagement for years.

Here are a list of potential ways you can deliver your content:

  • E-Mail
  • Blog post
  • Video
  • Expert Interviews
  • Live Stream
  • Podcast

Plan ahead

Perhaps the biggest piece of advice I can give to anyone creating a challenge is to create all the content before launch.  Start with creating a content outline.  Create a list of the topics you need to cover and assign a topic to each day.  If a topic will take multiple days to complete, break it up into sub-topics.

After you have created a daily topic, think about what success will look like for your users if they complete this topic effectively.  From there, work your way back to determining what homework you should assign for this topic.  Every day should have an actionable item.    Your job is to provide your participants with a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

Now that you have your list of topics, goals, and assignments, you are ready to create your content.  Creating all your content upfront will allow you to determine the flow of your challenge and to tweak certain days so that they build on each other.  It will also ensure you have a consistent level of quality.

Finally, it protects you against unforeseen circumstances.  What if you get sick or have some sort of family emergency?  What if you need to travel unexpectedly?  The absolute worst thing that can happen is to miss a day if your challenge is delivered daily.  You will lose all credibility and it could do damage to your brand.  A little bit of extra work upfront will ensure this never happens to you.

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