It’s the first day of the year.
You have the opportunity to reboot your passion and get your business on track and focused on achieving its goals.
My vision for you is to reach December 31st, 2014 filled with well deserved pride in what you’ve accomplished. I want you to have a big red check mark beside each of your goals.
The journey toward that vision starts today. My goal now is to give you a simplified roadmap to achieving your content marketing goals. This roadmap applies specifically to blogging but the principles apply to any business challenge.
I recommend that you have a notebook available to record your thoughts. I also recommend you set-aside time today to begin executing the plans inspired by this post.
Here we go:
I believe that the number is 3 is magical. This 2014 Marketing Plan chunks big tasks into three parts when possible. This chunking makes the concepts easier to understand and start. (Aside: Consider using a similar process for your business if you teach or consult for a living)
Three Content Marketing Objectives
Identify three objectives. Objectives are general descriptions of what you want to accomplish. I’ve found these goals to be most helpful to most people:
1. Get more traffic to your platform:
You need more people interacting with your content. It’s hard to teach, persuade, or motivate an empty room.
2. Get more handraisers:
Handraisers are specific people who have given you explicit permission to email, call, or mail them. Handraisers are the future of your business. I also include customers in the handraiser group.
3. Achieve mastery in a core skill-set:
Your niche requires a specific type of mastery. Bloggers must master informative, persuasive, high-quality storytelling. App developers must master creating software that people want. You need to identify the rare and valuable skill that your audience wants and work diligently to mastering that skill.
Review your objectives and create specific goals for each. The best goals are easy to measure. Here are my goal recommendations:
(Aside: The specific goals listed below are real. You can achieve these results with the right tactics.)
- Traffic: 50% growth in 6 months | 100% in 12 months. Use “unique visitors” as the metric for evaluating this goal. Unique visitors are new people arriving at your blog/website for the first time.
- Handraisers: 50% growth in 6 months | 100% in 12 months. Track handraisers by subscriptions, registrations, or sales. The easiest way to track these numbers is by creating “goals” in Google Analytics.
- Mastery: 20% Gain in the output requiring your skill set. This goal is different it measures your productivity.
For example, if you are focusing on writing better blog posts then start with the number of posts you create. Afterall, improvement requires practice and writing more posts will improve your writing skill quickly. Why only 20%? Mastery is a slow and deliberate process.Your task will get harder until you’ve established a habit of practice. A 20% goals gives you the breathing room to work through setbacks without panicking about the outcome*
Three 4-Month Sprints
We have our objectives and goals. Now it’s time to create a practical and feasible plan.
I recommend working in “sprints” where you focus exclusively on achieving your goals for a specific amount of time. I’ve found that 4 month sprints give enough time to create good habits, implement your plan and see results. We’ll use the 4-month sprint as the time period for each goal.
Sprint #1: (January, February, March, April): Traffic + Mastery
We start with traffic because that is the fuel for your blog/website.
Now think through possible traffic building tactics. I’ve listed options below to get you started:
Traffic Options: Pick 3
- Publish more posts
- Publish more guest posts
- Publish / Appear on different platforms: iTunes, YouTube, Slideshare, Google+ are still great areas to attract new readers with excellent content.
- Purchase Traffic: Can you afford to use a percentage of your profit to purchase advertising via Google Adwords? This is an advanced technique but consider it if the number works. Note: Generally it isn't a good idea to pay for blog traffic unless you are converting a predictable number of readers into customers.
- Better Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Find the keywords your audience uses to search for information about your subject. Look for ways to create high-quality content around those terms. That SEO in 2014 nothing fancy, just focused, extremely valuable, information.
- Get more organic reader growth via social shares or affiliate offers
Work on your mastery goal during this time. Your goal will vary depending on the skill you select. The key to mastery is deliberate and frequent practice.
Sprint #2: (May, June, July, August): Handraisers + Mastery
By May you should be seeing a nice steady increase in traffic to your blog. Now is the right time to focus on turning readers into handraisers. Consider these Handraiser options:
Handraiser Options: Pick 3
- Improve landing page conversions: Look at the page that promotes your product, service, or sign-up. Are you seeing at least a 2% conversion rate on this page? If not, start a deliberate process of experimenting with variation to boost performance.
- Improve opt-in form conversions: Are you opt-in forms attractive and benefit-focused? No? Change them.
- Create, test, and implement better offers: Are your offers so valuable that a person would be a fool to pass them up?
- Boost visibility of call-to-action: Take a look at your sidebar. Are your offers in the top position or buried below the fold? Most offers perform poorly simply because they are in the wrong spot.
- Get more Handraiser referrals: Current customers and subscribers are the best cheerleaders for your business. What are you doing to make them feel special and appreciated? Most of all what are you doing to make it easy for them to invite others to your site?
Sprint #3 (September, October, November, December): Mastery
Your traffic and handraiser plans should be doing well at this point. By September you will know what tactics work, challenges, and areas needing more time, money, or expertise. Continue to optimize your performance in the traffic and handraiser area but focus your attention on Mastery.
The key question to ask yourself now is “What is the breakthrough investment required to achieve mastery in this skill”? After 8 months of sustained focus on Mastery you should be seeing noticeable improvements. If you are stuck then take immediate action to improve the situation.
Consider these Mastery Breakthrough options
- Get a coach: Get a new perspective and game plan.
- Go all-in on your time commitment: Set aside chunks of time daily to focus exclusively on building your skill.
- Improve practice regimen: Decide if you are practicing the right behaviors. Ask your coach to create a new practice regimen based on their observations.
- Improve attention, energy, and/or focus: It sounds simple but are you getting enough rest? Are you eating right and fueling your mind with the nutrients it needs for sustained focus and creativity? Is your personal life in order? All of these factors contribute to successfully mastering a skill.
- Get better / actionable feedback. Get a coach or find a way to get constructive, objective, and frank feedback. By the way, your mom, dad, spouse, kids, and friends suck at giving effective feedback. Their goal is preserving your relationship not mastering a skill.
The Power Three
We’ll wrap up by touching on the Power Three. The Power Three are techniques for getting your best performance. They are incredibly effective and will get results if you put them into action.
The Power Three are:
Simple ways to motivate follow-through. The most effective leverage technique is announcing your plans to your audience. I’ve done this with our FixMyBlog series. Telling others about your plans forces you to take action or embarrass yourself by not following through.
Focusing your attention where it can do the most good. I’ve studied dozens of high-achievers in business, academia, politics, and entrepreneurship. I’m not exaggerating when I say that all of them actively prioritize their activities every day. They use priorities to make sure that they focus on the big stuff that are critical to their success.
I have a list of 50 Priorities. Every day, I select three from the list to work on. I don’t move on until the 3 priorities are accomplished. Consider trying this approach with your schedule.
Multiplying your efforts by putting mastery on autopilot. Do yourself and purchase the book: “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We do In Live and Business” to understand how habits power success (and failure). Habits are the key to consistent performance and mastery. You goal should be to get so good at a skill that you can perform it flawlessly without thought. Habits will get you there.
Many will fail to read to this point. Unfortunately, many believe that success is a microwave dinner, read a post for 30 seconds and “poof” you have a successful blog. This belief in silver bullets is counterproductive as you know. So, I congratulate you for taking the best next step.
Enjoy your New Year.