There are easy things. Pizza is easy. Sweatpants are easy. Ad buys are easy. And there are difficult things, like finding a new way to prepare roast chicken so it doesn’t actually taste like roast chicken. Like forcing yourself to go to the gym when you didn’t sleep because you have four rescue dogs that putter around the house all night. Like getting through a content strategy blog that’s one huge, questionable metaphor.
Over the past 18 months, I’ve ceased paying attention to what I put in my body. My body took notice. I knew I was gaining weight, but I was all cavalier and cool about it: “Yes, but I’m happier than I’ve ever been.” That is a lie. My clothes don’t fit well. Two-thirds of my closet has been relegated to unwearable status. It’s a drag.
Recently I have committed to doing something about it. Yesterday as I stood in the sunshine and contemplated my next blog post, I was hit with the realization that my process and approach to my health is not unlike the entire conceptual gorgeousness of content strategy.
- Plan it
The thing about changing your lifestyle is that you actually have to… change your lifestyle. There are days where I fumble (hey, enchiladas!), but I’ve found that when I go to the market with a menu plan and go to the gym on a workout schedule, things fall into place. Content marketing is the same. You don’t decide you’re going to do content marketing and rewrite your webpages on the fly. You just… you don’t.
The thing about content marketing is that it’s a lot harder than most folks think it is. You can write? Great, you’re better off than most. But can you develop a brand style guide, publication calendar, SEO plan, analytics benchmarking, and social calendar? And then execute all that solo or with a ragtag team of “SEO writers”? (The answer is no.)
- Do homework
I have a trainer I see once a week. She makes me work. She also e-mails me weekly homework assignments, and I do (most of) them. When I do this off-the-clock work, the next workout isn’t so horrid. Homework gives me direction. She reminds me of muscle groups I neglected. She sends me articles on protein intake and caloric cycling. She keeps me in the know about all things fitness, which in turn leads to a smarter, more motivated pupil. Content marketing is a vast, complicated discipline with ever-shifting best practices, targets, and methodologies. For those of us who work in the space, homework is a constant. For those who aren’t familiar with the industry, it’s even more crucial. Resources are vast—get out there, do your homework and start learning.
- Settle in
Healthy living is a lifelong process. This ain’t a diet or a fad. The trainers at my gym leave little inspirational messages on white boards. Yesterday’s read: Losing weight is hard. Maintaining weight is hard. Staying fat is hard. Pick your hard. It’s going to take some time before I can slide on a pair of skinny jeans with a smile, and it’s going to take effort—forever—to maintain my weight and my attitude. I’ve preached it before, but let’s give it another go: Content marketing is not a campaign. It’s not a get-traffic-quick method. It’s not an easy road to brand recognition and loyalty, to increased revenue, to doing things better. Content marketing is the antithesis of traditional marketing in that you’re not buying an audience. You’re earning one. To do that, you’ve gotta settle in for the long haul. Or keep buying ads (and diet pills and detox potions). Pick your hard.
- Get help
I understand how to be healthy: Work out and eat clean. But for the first month at the gym I’d stare at the free weights from my treadmill, too intimidated by bulked-up college kids and fitness-model chicks in Lululemon to venture into their space. I glanced down at my sweat-stained T-shirt and jiggling belly. Ashamed. Embarrassed. Runny through nightmare what-if scenarios. The free weights could topple upon me and leave me struggling, legs flailing, under the weight of the bar. These were my fears. I couldn’t make the move alone. I hired a trainer, an expert, someone to show me what to do, how to adjust the weights and to just walk with me so I wouldn’t feel alone.
Some of the prospects and clients I talk to feel alone. They understand the value of content marketing, but they have no idea how to get started. When the big brands are using content so effortlessly, and the little guys seem to have social media in a headlock, starting a content campaign is scary. How do I blog? How do I optimize without sounding like a tool? Why is my web content yielding zilch in ROI? What do you MEAN I can track content-related revenue? Ask for help. You can certainly ask me, and for the amazing price of free, I’ll get you started. Other agencies, if they’re good, will do the same for you.
- Ante up
I’ve been harassing my best friend to join the gym with me. She says it’s too expensive. I say, “But look at all you GET.” There’s Pilates and yoga and boot camp. There’s HIIT and childcare and zumba and kickboxing. Treadmills with TVs! Water fountains! I pay way more, on top of a monthly fee, for a personal trainer. And I’ve locked myself into a two-year contract. If you want something to work, you invest in its long-term success. If you’re looking to get healthy, you buy organic and join and gym and get serious. If you’re looking to win online, you research an agency, get strategic, and get serious.
Sara Fraser – Director of Business Development