Aaron Levie, The founder and CEO of Box.com connected with ex-Microsoft power player Steven Sinofsky to help him roll-out the future of his app – an online document creator and editor. Box is an online sharing company but the have a strategy for growing their service and beating their rivals – Evernote, Dropbox, and Quip.
Mark Zuckerberg believes that Facebook is the new dial tone for the 21st century. His long-term strategy includes transforming the service into the mobile OS of the future. He’s in a race with Google and Amazon to capture your second-screen and by most accounts winning.
Have you noticed that Copyblogger isn’t just a blog any longer? Copyblogger is now a WordPress theme designer, WordPress blog host, search engine optimization tool, and landing page creator. Do you think Brian Clark, the CEO of Copyblogger Media, is “Winging it?” I bet his competitors wish that were the case.
What am I getting at?
You Need A Vision.
I know that you aren’t some hot silicon valley upstart with a roster of high-profile VCs backing your company. I can understand if you believe that vision is for world beaters and universe changers. I would also say that you are selling yourself and the future of your business short.
We’ll come back to this point in a moment.
First, let me rant about something that is guaranteed to cause you harm –
The most destructive content marketing advice I’ve ever heard is – “Write/create/ship when you have something to say”. Essentially this means you don’t need discipline and planning; all that is required for a successful blog is sporadic inspiration. Gosh that’s stupid. Of course this advice works if your blog is a public diary but its lethal if you are trying to build a business with content marketing.
Blogging success is built on consistent and disciplined execution of a plan. This plan is the practical, day-to-day, reflection of your vision. You can’t build the plan without the vision.
Use these three questions to think through your vision:
How will my blog demonstrably change my readers outlook, expertise, or situation?
This questions helps you visualize your reader’s most pressing need and how your blog can help. Your blog probably hasn’t created the trust, authority or relationships needed to deliver a solution, but asking and answering the question moves you in the right direction.
I’m helping a client deliver a new-type of career advice to 50+ men and women who’ve been laid off. These people have incredible experience and expertise but are routinely passed over for younger candidates. My client sees his blog as a comprehensive resource for the 50+ audience. With a clear vision, we are putting the pieces into place to deliver on that vision.
Imagine a reader with a problem you can solve. Hold that image in your mind as you consider the second question –
What does your blog need to bring your vision to fruition?
This answer varies depending on your goal. For some it might be a better designed blog that establishes the right tone. For others it might be an application that helps their reader’s diagnose their current situation and get help. For example, my new Blog Scorecard was designed to help bloggers diagnose the health of their blog.
I encourage you to make a wish list of items that will boost your blog’s impact and visibility. Examples could be:
- A weekly podcast offered on iTunes and Ustream
- A summer intern tasked with curating content for infographics and special reports
- A Kindle book that tells your story and describes your approach to solving your reader’s problems
- A well-constructed editorial calendar that builds your authority and generates demand for your expertise
- A simple web app that solves a specific problem for your readers
- A new design that builds your brand and separates you from me-too competition
What is the timeline for working on and achieving your vision?
There are two words that are guaranteed to put me in a foul mood. They are: Somebody and Someday. My blood is already starting to boil. “Someday” is the worst. It looks like this:
“Someday my blog will attract enough customers for me to quit my job.”
This assertion sounds reasonable. You can’t predict the future so it would seem arrogant to say,
“My blog will generate enough leads and customers for me to l quit my wage-slave job on or before September 18th, 2015.”
But…this objective isn’t arrogant at all. It’s darn smart and incredibly powerful. This statement get’s you moving. It puts the world on notice.
It creates a concrete vision and expectation of success. I believe that people who have the courage to be specific will find the power, resources, and expertise needed to achieve those goals.
On April 17, 2011 I set the goal of starting my own consultancy by June 30, 2012. I didn’t achieve the goal by June 30th 2012, I was off by a month, Pushing Social hung it’s official shingle on July 30th, 2012. I’m not complaining.
For those two years, I felt the productive stress of making good on my goal. It was amazing how things fell into place. I believe wholeheartedly that I would still be hoping and dreaming if I hadn’t placed a deadline on my vision. I always push my clients to be concrete about their goals because I know that when they do, very little can stand in their way.
So do yourself a favor, hunt down, kill, and bury the word “someday”. You get extra credit for doing the same to “somebody”.
Are You Scared?
Creating a vision is scary for almost all of us. I hate to be disappointed. A vision seems tailor-made to do just that – fail. But here’s a secret – perhaps Eisenhower said it best[Tweet “”Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower”]
After you’ve stated your vision, you need to start planning. Planning means making some important decisions, taking action, and moving forward. A vision is the best way to motivate and inspire you to get to work.
So what is your next step?