New years are for resolutions. Join the gym, eat better, visit your mother more often, buy lottery tickets, become a game show host — whatever your habitual resolution is when the ball drops, it’s usually out the window as unattainable by what, March? But the exceptional content marketer should make some marketing-related resolutions, and because we are different, we will NOT disregard our resolutions, right? Well, I get that resolutions for work are sometimes just as hard to keep as the personal ones, but resolving to take action on even a few of these 10 items could actually make you a better content marketer in 2014, and who doesn’t want to be that? You over-achieving types will want to jump on all 10 of these, while those with a compulsion to complete might need to choose just a few, but read on and then change some things in 2014.
Make a plan
According to the B2B Content Marketing 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends—North America Report, 84 percent of marketers who say they are ineffective at content marketing say they have no documented strategy. This year, vow to make a plan for your content marketing. It’s really hard to succeed without one. Don’t know where to start? Mike Sweeney wrote a couple of recent posts that offer tips for building the plan and then getting it off the ground.
Create an editorial calendar, fill it, and use it consistently
Every good content marketer has an editorial calendar. I’d like to see some statistics on the number of people who consistently use it. I’m pretty sure those statistics don’t exist because no one is willing to fess up that this is one of those things that they find difficult to keep up with. Commit to the editorial calendar in 2014. It makes your life easier. Feed it with frequent brainstorming sessions, come up with story themes and spin as many content ideas as possible off of those themes, create series of posts, or crowdsource posts from thought leaders in your industry. But keep the calendar full. There are a bunch of tools out there to help you — from robust to free and simple — it depends on what you need. Check out DivvyHQ (this is what we use), Kapost, the plugin from WordPress, or build a simple solution in Excel or a Google doc.
Become a better writer
It is possible to become a better writer. Write often. Read quality writing. For tips and inspiration, read one of the best guides to nonfiction writing, William Zinsser’s On Writing Well.
Please remember the basics in this new year. If your style is more casual, that’s fine, but grammar rules still apply. Good spelling, punctuation and real, not made-up words, are the hallmark of a good writer. Don’t become a slave to trendy vocabulary. Just because the word of the day or the year was added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online (which is not to be confused with the Oxford English Dictionary), doesn’t mean it’s a word you should use in your writing. Fauxhawk, jorts (yup, jeans shorts), selfie and twerking were just added, but that doesn’t make them good choices.
Create only remarkable content
We say this a lot — because it’s important. After you become a better writer, use that improved skill to create remarkable content. Organize well, tell a story, write killer headlines and introductory paragraphs, and give your reader value with every piece of content you deliver. Resolve to create fewer pieces of content and make them better, if you must. But strive to be remarkable this year.
Consider new types of content
Many of us do the same things over and over again, and there is nothing wrong with being consistent about what and when you publish (that would be good planning). But you also need to take some risks, get your audience’s attention, get outside your comfort zone, and do something new. Make it a goal to create one or two or three completely new types of content this year. Maybe a podcast or a video or a mini-eBook. Test it out, see how it performs. Maybe it’ll become a regular for you.
Change something you were doing in 2013
I mean completely change it. If you were doing a monthly newsletter with a few past blog posts and a little bit of news, stop. Change the format, completely change what you include, shorten it and send it every Friday. Whatever. But shake your snow globe.
Repurpose more content
Make your content go further by repurposing what you have into different formats. This is such an easy way to move your content marketing plan forward, why don’t you do more of it? Take your next blog post and create a downloadable guide or checklist to go with it, then add a SlideShare presentation based on the same topic, and create an eBook.
Get other departments to drink the content marketing Kool-Aid
In the marketing department, you know content marketing works. But content marketing is a strategy that should be embraced by your whole company, not just your marketing department. This year, get everyone on board and make each piece of content that comes out of your company — including job listings, one-on-one emails and invoices — a content marketing opportunity.
Create a distribution strategy
Believe it or not, just putting something on your website does not mean you have distributed your content. You need a plan for consistent distribution that includes social media, email, and sharing throughout your organization, all in support of your content marketing plan and your business goals. It will all work together and eventually make you a millionaire.
Stop making your calls to action an afterthought
Do you just throw that call to action in at the end of your content and not worry about it? Remember, calls to action create leads, which hopefully become your company’s customers, and customers spend money, and money feeds your paycheck. Lame call to action equals tiny paycheck. Ok, maybe that’s an oversimplification, but you get where I’m going, right? They’re important. Think about them this year. Did you know that they don’t actually have to be only at the end of your content? You can put them at strategic locations throughout your content. Test it. See how it works for you.
Before you start your content, decide what you believe the call to action should be so that you can keep it in mind while you are writing. Don’t have any anchor content to use as calls to action? You will need an 11th resolution to add to this list.
Make some content marketing resolutions for 2014. They’re hard to keep, everyone knows it, but get even a few of these resolutions checked off, and you’ve amped up your marketing game for 2014. Who knows what you might be able to do in 2015?
Have any content marketing resolutions you want to share? Let me know in the comments. Then find out how to jumpstart your business in 2014 in our eBook, “How to Grow Your Business with Content Marketing.”