A lot of marketing goals are going to get set this week, and most of them will get abandoned by the end of Q1. We’ve all been there before. So, I’m going to show you how to set the right goals for your content—and execute them week after week.
The simple truth is that goals are worthless if you don’t have a workable plan to accomplish them.
That’s what I’ve been spending my brain power on this week—how to refine my workflow system to achieve my goals in 2023. Choosing which goal only matters once you have a strong system in place.
Fanatical execution is a marketing superpower.
When your business produces high-quality marketing content consistently, potential clients start to know, like, and trust you. You’ll start hitting those revenue and profit goals that actually grow your business.
Unfortunately, most content marketing goals never get accomplished.
Most entrepreneurs don’t how to create a sustainable content plan.
- They choose the wrong goals.
- They get too busy.
- They never create a system.
- They get distracted.
- They quit before seeing any results.
Don’t worry, I’m going to show how you and your business can avoid these traps and crush the content goals.
Here’s how, step by step:
Step 1: Listen to Your Audience
The most important goals of your business are the ones directly connected to your audience. So, you’ve got to know what makes them tick
Next, give a few quick examples. Explain why, in more detail, this is a mistake so many people make. And then, tell the reader what they need to do to avoid it.
Focus on their psychographics over demographics. Find out what your audience really cares about. What are their deepest-held dreams and fears? That knowledge is way more helpful than knowing their age or hometown.
Then, provide quality content that uses your expertise to help them start making big progress in the right direction.
Step 2: Choose a Worthy Goal
Too many solopreneurs, marketers, and brands choose the wrong goals. They’re set up to fail right from the beginning! If you want to produce content that drives business growth, you have to choose the right goals.
I recently read Michael Bungay Stanier’s book, How to Begin, Start Doing Something That Matters. He teaches an ultra-helpful framework for finding a goal that will keep your attention for the long haul. Resolutions made on New Year’s Eve tend to fizzle out by the end of January. But, this process for developing goals will force you to only pick a goal worthy of your time and attention in 2023.
First, Set a Worthy Goal. I’ll help you find and refine a goal that is Thrilling, Important, and Daunting. A Worthy Goal entwines ambition for yourself and for the world.Michael Bungay Stanier
Thrilling — A thrilling goal is something you wake up excited to do. It speaks to your values and is a bold adventure you’re excited to jump into. Thrilling is a
Important — If the project or goal you’re considering only benefits you, then it’s not important enough to pursure. Selfishness isn’t a strong enough motivation to grow your business, or make any meaningful impact with your content.
Daunting — The simple truth is, a worthy content marketing goal is going to take you out of your comfort zone. You don’t want to take on an impossible project that’s entirely overwhelming, but it’s got to be challenging enough to keep you from playing it safe.
Make you only take on content goals or projects that score high in each of these three areas. Then, review your key goals at the beginning of every week to keep them top of mind—and make sure the weekly schedule is set to help you succeed.
Step 3: Keep Your Strategy Simple
Most marketers are looking at how to maximize their content strategy and detail it down to the nth micro-task—and they never get off the ground.
Think back on the previous year. Were there any articles, YouTube videos, or other content efforts that you didn’t complete (even though the plan was airtight)? YES, of course! An effective content marketing strategy needs to stay simple, so you can pivot around the varying context we all work in.
Sometimes, you get more info from a client on their pain point, and that leads you to revise your main goal. Other times, a member of your team gets roped into a larger project, and you lose their help—squashing the main pillar of your content that quarter.
Keep your goals simple at first, and don’t plan out 365 days. Keep your annual calendar flexible, your quarterly rocks clear, and hold to your monthly schedule like a lifeline.
Use your calendar, keep your peak energy days/times in mind, and don’t stress about things that might change before you get there.
Step 4: Create a Doable Content System
As we mentioned above, even the perfect content strategy needs a strong project system.
That means you’ve got to have a clear process for how your team is going to get the work done on a daily basis. Don’t waste time debating the benefits of tools like Notion, Asana, or Google docs. Pick one that works, and then focus on developing a shared workflow with everyone involved.
Above all else—keep it doable.
Never set a deadline that you already know you’re going to miss. Yep, that means you’ve got to be honest with yourself (and your team) and say no to some good ideas. But, that’s the only way the best content ideas will arise and get published.
One crucial note here: Make sure that you clarify one tool/location as the home base for each piece of content. I like using Notion for this, but the most important thing is that everyone knows it and uses it consistently. Most of us spend way too much time chasing around tasks, notes, or research in Slack and every other tool.
Pick a home for the content project—and link everything there, religiously.
Then, it’s all about using your content process and making small improvements along the way.
Put in the reps required to learn what great content really is. Learn what resonates with your people. Then, develop a system of creating and distributing it to them. Once you refine your process for that one specific type of content and/or platform. Then, you can transfer what you’ve learned to another platform and succeed much faster.
Matt Ragland, a productivity consultant and one of the first hires at ConvertKit, transformed my thinking about this. According to him, consistency will take you further than you can imagine—as long as you keep learning along the way.
Here’s a quick breakdown of my annual planning process (for content marketing and life):
- Goals for the year (be picky)
- Quarterly rocks (3-4 practical milestones that support each content goal)
- Monthly projects (sub-sections of each quarterly rock)
- Weekly tasks (that drive those Monthly projects forward)
- Daily — Focus on 3 key tasks every day.
Think of applying James Clear’s Atomic Habits book to your content marketing. Khe Hy likes to call those key daily tasks 10k Work. Hyper-focus on tasks that drive the core areas of your business forward.
It’s actually a simple system, that’s helped me break down some crazy content projects into simple (and doable) workdays. But, you’ve got to pick the right goals and keep a realistic view of your time and resources.
Step 5: Pick Topics in Your Area of Expertise
Don’t waste time writing content, or producing videos, on topics that have already been covered by others. So many companies go wrong here—because they only look at trends.
Find the areas of your business that set you apart from others in your space, and do something different than everyone else. Look for your special skill, experience, or even network connect that will help you produce (and distribute) a certain topic.
Your startup bike shop will never be able to write a guide to mountain biking that gets more traction than someone like Specialized or Trek. However, Google would love to send people to your in-depth guide on your local trail system.
Don’t copy what you see working. Watch and learn, then give it a specialized tilt that sets your content up for a natural win.
Read this example of MarketingExamples.com, from Steph Smith’s book, Doing Content Right:
As Harry Dry put it, who has succeeded in an extremely competitive space with Marketing Examples, “I never paid much attention to the space being crowded. I just believed I would be the best.” And the best way to create high-quality work is to operate in your domain of expertise, ie: your personal monopoly.Steph Smith
Step 6: Measure the Right Results
Make sure you start with the right goal—on every piece of content you plan for 2023. Then, find the best data point to rank your effectiveness on a regular basis.
If you’re a B2B auditing company, that is writing a guide to help companies choose the right B2B auditing, then make sure you’re measuring the inquiries you get related to that article. People who read that are already certain they need to hire someone.
On the flip side, if you’re publishing an article on 7 Reasons Your Company Can Save Costs in 2023, then you can’t expect a flood of inquiries. A top-of-funnel topic like that is best used to win engagement from readers and interest in the rest of your resources—so measure the email sign-ups you get.
The simple truth is, you can’t depend on vanity metrics like Twitter followers, Youtube views, or even email subscribers. The quality of the audience, and the engagement you nurture, are what truly matters for business growth.
Find out what final step you’re looking to drive, right before someone becomes a new client. Then, optimize all of your marketing efforts to increase that data point.
Step 7: Always Think Long-Term
You probably already know this, but creating that impacts the world takes time to grow.
Content marketing takes a concerted effort, over a long period of time, before results start showing. Sure, your boss might ask a few questions, but I’ve found the doubts inside my head are usually the loudest. Stick with it!
Don’t forget that building a digital property still takes time. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. If your goal is to find a shortcut to riches, content is not your best bet.Steph Smith
Write the best article you can this week. Then publish it and share it for the world to see. At worst, you’ll gain more data points to improve your company’s next blog post. Keep going, and keep listening to your ideal audience. They will tell you what they want more of (or less of), and you’ll build trust along the way.
Before long, you’ll start becoming the go-to business in your industry. Thoughtful, consistent content marketing can help you upset industry leaders. So be helpful, focus on your audience, and don’t get discouraged along the way. You got this!
And, if you want some help, join my Friday Focus emails, where I share weekly tips on SEO, digital marketing, and content strategy.