Last Saturday I crossed the finish line of my 2nd marathon. Last year was my first and I was beyond elated just to have finished with a time of 4:17.
This year I was over the “PLEASE, PLEASE just let me make it to the finish line!” and now desperately hoping to make it to the finish line in 4 hours!
I did PR with a time of 4:12 (and yes…I was happy with that because running a marathon is PRETTY DAMN HARD to do whether your time is 3 hours or 6!) but… it was not the dream finish I was hoping for.
Assessing my race performance, I know what I got right…
The tools and gear for the temperature and the distance. (Good running shoes, a short sleeve shirt and capris kept me comfortable in the sunny, 50-degree fall temps. I also packed plenty of gels and water to keep from getting dizzy and dehydrated.)
And… I know a few things I could have done differently to improve my time:
Instead….I just tried to run a little faster and hoped for a better time.
Going through this assessment of my race, I realized it’s not much different from Content Marketing.
You can’t just put up a web page, write a few blog posts, send out some e-newsletters and hope for some leads.
Just like running a marathon—there are some concrete steps you MUST follow if you want to reach your goals:
1. Have the Right Tools for the Job!
I didn’t hit my time goal, but I knew what tools would get me to that finish line!
Beyond your web site and social media platforms, there are an ENDLESS number of tools available to help you launch your content marketing campaign.
From email marketing, sales enablement, distribution & syndication, paid promotion, social media management and much, much more, there are tools to make your life easier… every step of the way!
You just need to decide what’s right for the size of your business and your budget.
2. Have a Well-Defined Strategy and STICK WITH IT!
Whether it’s generating more leads, becoming a thought leader in your industry or demonstrating your expertise; you need a comprehensive strategy with well-defined goals!
Who’s your target audience? What tone will you use? What topics do your customers care about? What social media platforms are they on? These are just a few of the questions you need to answer.
Just like a marathon plan with speed work, hills, tempo and long-runs— each part is important to reaching your desired outcome and MUST be considered with each blog post, social media post, white paper, or newsletter that’s written.
3. Monitor Your Progress.
Now that I’ve seen my race results, I know what to do differently for next time but it’s too late to change what happened this time around.
I know that running watch would have shed some light on my pace and saved me some much needed energy that last half of the race. Without it…I was running in the dark!
You can’t afford to run your content marketing strategy in the dark either. Constant measurements are essential so you have immediate insight to what’s working and what’s not.
It’s not always easy to tie your content marketing efforts directly to sales.
But… with tools like Google Analytics, Buzzsumo, Docalytics, Crazy Egg, (and far too many more to mention in this post), you can measure things like number of unique visitors to your site, page views, bounce rates, and conversion rates so you know HOW many people are reading your content, WHAT they’re doing with it IF they like it!
4. Get Some Support!
Yes, I made it to the finish line going it alone but a 4-hour marathon is a daunting task and I know a pace group or running buddy will give me that motivation I’ll need to hit it next year!
With SO many types of content and distributions channels, a content marketing campaign can also be daunting task for a small business.
You need to enlist the right support in employees, writers, designers and SEO experts to make sure you can keep up the momentum to reach your marketing goals. And make sure everyone is on board with those goals!
These are just a few of the tips to get your content strategy off and running! Have any more to add? Leave me your comments.