Content marketing strategy really comes down to asking yourself one question:
“Does this move me closer to my goal?”
Chasing tactics is all about the next shiny object. If you’re a Harry Potter fan or saw the new “Fantastic Beasts” movie, think of tactics like a Niffler; it’s obsessed with seeking out all the shiny objects it can find and collecting them — to the point where its little pouch is overflowing with treasures. But it doesn’t do anything with any of those shiny objects. They just weigh it down.
Strategy, on the other hand, is when we look at each shiny object we come across and ask, “Does this move me closer to my goal?” If the answer is yes, we collect it and put it to use. If not, we leave it and move on.
Easier said than done, sometimes! We all have a bit of Niffler in us — myself definitely included. I love any new tech toy, new app, new plugin, new technique. I want to try them all. And while it’s OK for me to look, to check them out, maybe even to save them for later, it’s NOT OK for me to get distracted by them or let them divert me from my goal.
Right after I decided to focus on selling Strategy Sessions for this year, I had an idea for a new Kindle book. I was so excited about it! I wanted to start doing the research for it right away.
But then I had to slow my roll and ask myself, “Does this move me closer to my goal?”
The answer was no.
I haven’t totally shelved the new book idea, but it fell waaaaaay down my priority list. Because I know that right now I need to focus on other things.
What is your goal?
Of course, in order to make this work, you have to have goal; and sometimes, that can be the most challenging part of putting together a business strategy. In fact, women in particular are less likely to set results-oriented business goals.
I’ve often seen this with my own clients. I ask their business goals and they give me something nebulous like, “I want to create a community,” or “I want to become a thought leader.” These are both admirable goals, but they need more specificity to become helpful business goals.
You’ve probably heard the term SMART goals. It’s a mnemonic for remembering that goals should be Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Timely.
So let’s take a very simple goal and make it a SMART goal as an example.
Let’s say that your goal is to make more sales. (Whose isn’t?!?)
First, we have to get specific. “More” in this case, isn’t nearly specific enough. Instead, let’s say you want to sell 50 products. (Just to keep the numbers small and easy for my brain to manage.)
OK, that’s now both specific and measurable. Is it actionable? Yes — and this is actually where the strategy comes in. If you can formulate a plan, step by step, for selling 50 products, then it is actionable.
Is it relevant? Well, this one requires some deeper diving. Let’s pretend what you really want is to spend more time with your kids and less time at the computer. If that’s the case, you have to ask yourself, will selling more product help me reach that goal? Maybe it will because you’ll be able to take time off later if you sell more now. Maybe it won’t because you’ll be hustling more to sell that product. Only you can say.
Finally, is it timely? Our goal is to sell 50 products, but by when? Let’s say we want to sell 50 products this quarter. NOW we have a SMART goal.
Your goal becomes “true north”
Once you have your goal, it becomes “true north” for your business.
If you ever took orienteering in Girl Scouts or some other point in your life, you know that the first thing you have to do is set your compass to point to true north (instead of magnetic north). The same is true when thinking about your business. Whenever you have a new task or opportunity, you have to take a moment to calibrate and ask yourself if it’s aligned with your “true north” — your goal.
This can help make decisions incredibly simple! But it can also sometimes be a little difficult when the shiny object is something you think you really want.
What does all this have to do with content marketing strategy?
It helps you cut through the noise and ask yourself if the tactics you’re applying will actually move you closer to your goal.
Let’s go back to our example of selling 50 products this quarter and say that when it comes to content marketing, I really want to start a podcast.
My question to myself, then, has to be: Will starting a podcast move me closer to my goal?
Podcasts can be great for getting exposure to new audiences, but they’re not particularly easy to use to convert those new audiences to leads. It takes a pretty robust strategy — usually including content upgrades, landing pages, retargeting ads, etc. — to make those conversions happen. Not to mention the time and investment to start a podcast. Plus, it takes a while to build up an audience, get a listenership that trusts you, etc.
In short, a podcast might help me sell products, down the line, but it’s probably not going to help me sell 50 products this quarter.
And BOOM. There’s my answer.
Of course, I might still want to, and the awesome thing about being my own boss is that I could still decide to do it (maybe it is a YES for a bigger or more long-term goal in my business). But it’s clear that maybe I want to do that a little way down the road, so that I can focus right now on my short-term goal.
On the other hand, if I’m considering implementing a content upgrade strategy on my blog, I can ask myself: Does this help me sell 50 products this quarter? The answer is probably YES. Content upgrades can increase my opt-in rate for a particular blog by as much as 300%, and having that many more leads will mean, naturally, that many more sales if I have a good sales process in place.
The goal comes first.
That’s why it’s vital to understand your goal before you ever start trying to put together a business strategy or a content marketing strategy.