By Candace Huntly
We’re past the halfway point in the first week of the year and most of us fall into three categories:
- You have set goals for the year, and you’re excited to be taking the first steps to achieving them – because you have a plan.
- You have set goals for the year, but you’re already feeling really overwhelmed with the pressure you put on yourself to succeed – likely because you don’t have a plan in place that supports your growth.
- You have already abandoned all planning you may have done – it’s much easier to fall into the status quo whether it worked or not.
While the past couple of years have been challenging – and exhausting – for most business owners, that doesn’t mean you should avoid planning or challenging yourself to try something new this year. Setting yourself up for success means creating SMART goals and a step-by-step plan to help you achieve them, which makes things way less overwhelming. When it comes to your marketing content a great blogging strategy may be the answer you are looking for to ease some of the pressure.
What the heck are SMART GOALS?
Before we dive into your marketing strategy, let’s talk goals. You need to set them, so you know how to track your success. SMART goals are the way to go! If you have heard of SMART Goals before this can be a refresh. If you haven’t heard of SMART Goals, it’s pretty simple:
- Specific: Set parameters for yourself. You don’t want more clients. That’s vague. How many more clients would be enough??? Saying you want to bring on 10 new clients within 6 months gives you something specific to work towards.
- Measurable: Make sure your goal is something that can be tracked over time with data. Using the above example, you can work towards adding new clients to your roster until you reach your goal of 10. If you have only added 2 or 3 then you haven’t reached your goal.
- Attainable: You want to push yourself, but you also need to make sure that your goal is realistic. If you only normally bring on 1 or 2 clients within 6 months, 10 new clients may be out of reach. But if you normally bring on 8 new clients within a 6-month period, then it would push you just enough to go outside of your comfort zone.
- Relevant: Your goals should make sense for the stage you are at in your business, and they should help you grow your business and take things to the next level.
- Timely: You need to make sure you give yourself a time frame to reach your goals. In this case we have said 6 months. But you could do a year, 5 years, whatever makes sense. If your goals are set for longer time frames, it’s important to figure out mini milestones in between to help keep you on track. For example, if you want to get 10 clients in 6 months, maybe you want 4 new clients after 2 months, then another 4 after 4 months, and then the last 2 by the end of month 6.
Using your blog to make marketing easier
Now that you have set your overall goals, you need to tackle your marketing plan. I am a huge fan of working smarter not harder. We should all strive for that. It doesn’t mean you are lazy or cutting corners. It means you are putting things together like a puzzle to create a bigger picture – your overall plan. For your marketing, that means finding efficiencies to make everyday tasks that much easier. Here are 5 steps to help you leverage a blog strategy to take your entire content marketing strategy up a notch.
Step 1: Identify your marketing channels
I always start with what I WANT and then get to what I NEED (AKA what I – or my client – can handle). Create a list of your desired marketing channels. Make sure it’s based on your customers and where they like to interact with brands. Once you have that list, CUT THE FLUFF. This means prioritize your list from most effective to least effective based on factors like:
- Does my audience use this channel?
- Are my competitors successful on this channel?
- Has this been effective for me in the past?
Then you have to figure out what you can handle based on budget (time, money, team skills) and start cutting from the bottom of your list until you can manage what you have left. You have to remove your personal emotions from this because what you want might not be what you need at this point in time. And remember, just because you’re not doing it now doesn’t mean you can’t add on to your strategy later!
HOT TIP: Blogging should be included in your list!!! You can adjust the frequency to meet your budget needs.
Step 2: Identify your blogging personality
It’s a given that your brand identity should be tightly woven throughout your blog content. However, when it comes to blogging, you can adjust your content based on your strengths. Not all blogs have to be written – and sometimes it doesn’t even make as much sense to write out a blog like this one. For example, if you are a chef, you could do photo stories with short descriptions instead that showcase a great recipe or food and beverage pairing. You could do a video blog or even audio (hello podcasts have exploded in recent years!). A blog is meant to showcase your brand, your expertise, YOU, so you can make it fit your needs.
Step 3: Build an editorial calendar
This is a secret pleasure of mine. An editorial calendar is a schedule that outlines dates, responsibilities, blog topics, and themes. I usually work 3 months in advance. It’s not always easy to do because it means sitting down and planning in advance. However, this step will make your life sooooo much easier. I know there are fancy content planning platforms, but I like a good old-fashioned spreadsheet. I break my editorial calendar down into monthly themes (you could also do quarterly or seasonal depending on your business and the type of content you are creating). Once I have monthly themes I set the publish dates for our weekly blogs, assign a team member to write for the week, and assign a topic for the week.
SIDE NOTE: Figuring out your topics in advance means you don’t have to waste time each week trying to come up with a topic!
Step 4: Carry the themes and topics over to your other content platforms
This is where your blog starts to wield its power as the centrepiece of your marketing content. Your thematic and topical structure can drive your social media content, promotional content, Whitepaper topics, email newsletters, free eBooks, and the list could go on. The foundations you create for your blog strategy then become the foundations for your entire marketing strategy.
Step 5: Create content that can be repurposed
Whether you look at this as Step 5 or Step 4 B this is where you start to put together content for your blog. Write for your blog first and then let that content help you populate your other platforms. A well-thought out blog can turn into at least one social media post (but usually multiple!), an email newsletter, gated content to help collect emails, a media angle to pitch, and more.
You could also create what’s called evergreen content that is content that can be referred to much past the publish date. You can read more about evergreen content here.
I’m not shy of talking about blogging for business. I am a huge fan. And it’s because it works and it can make your life much easier when it comes to marketing content. Still not sure if it’s right for you? Set up a free consultation with me and we’ll figure it out together.