12 Ways to Nail Your Smart Goals this Year with Content

Content is hugely powerful. While pure ads used to be able to pierce through, we’re now so bombarded with advertisements every day that we tune them out. Trying to force your message upon people will no longer work. In fact, content marketing is really the only marketing left.

Why? Because content marketing turns your message into something people want to consume. Instead of being forced to consume an advertisement, good content is something that people seek out. And good content is content that tells a story. Your story, your brand’s story, the authentic story of your business. People love to read stories.

Does the idea of telling your brand’s story sound exciting to you, but the idea of actually having to write it sound horrifying? Don’t worry. For each strategy, we’ll give you options for doing it yourself or for outsourcing it to someone who loves to write.

Understanding your SMART goals

SMART goal setting is probably nothing new to most small business owners, but a little recap never hurts. We found a great article that lays it out in The Balance.  small business planning process from the balance. A SMART goal evaluates a goal and determine its viability using the five criteria outlined below. Setting a SMART goal (and then nailing it with content) will help take your goal from a general idea stage and put it into action.

S = Specific

When you are just getting started with goal setting, you may only have a vague idea of what you hope to accomplish. As you get further along in the process, however, you will need to be as specific as possible about your goal. A specific goal should clearly state what you want to accomplish, why it is an important goal, and how you intend to accomplish the goal.

M = Measurable

You need to be able to determine, without question, whether or not you are successful in achieving your goal. In order to do this, you need to create a way to measure your progress and your end result. A measurable goal should include a plan with targets and milestones that you can use to make sure you’re moving in the right direction during the process and should clearly tell you when you’ve completed the process.

A = Attainable

While business goals may often pull you out of your comfort zone and challenge you, if the goal and the parameters you have created are not realistic, you may be setting yourself up for failure.

An attainable goal should be realistic and include a plan that breaks your overall goal down into smaller, manageable action steps that use the time and resources available to you within the timeline you’ve set.

R = Relevant

The relevancy of a business goal will often determine the likelihood of achieving it.

Goals that do not mesh with all of the other factors that directly and indirectly impact your business are often unachievable. Ultimately, a relevant goal should make sense when measured against your business model, mission statement, market, client base and industry.

T = Time-Based

Business goals cannot be open-ended; every goal should be limited by a period of time. The timeline may vary by weeks, months or years depending on your goal, but a defined timeline is vital in order for you to commit to the goal. Having a deadline can also create an urgency that will motivate you.

A few examples of using content to nail your SMART goals

SMART Goal for Photography Business:
Within a month, I am going to re-energize my photography business, which will allow me to benefit financially from one of my favorite hobbies. Within six weeks, I will have personally called clients from the past three years who were pleased with their photos but have not booked another session. I will follow up those calls with a “5 tips”-type of document that will give them ideas on how to take better photos with their smart phones and ask them to follow me on social media. By making those personal calls and following up with the “5 tips” document, I will schedule at least 4 photo sessions for the next month.

 Content strategy for the photography business:

  • Define talking points for the phone calls, including a specific ask to follow on social media
  • Define strategic keywords to highlight in your social media profile and product descriptions
  • Start blogging, documenting the process of your photo shoots

SMART Goal for consulting business:
I will acquire three new clients for my consulting business within two months by launching a social media marketing campaign and networking with local businesses. This will allow me to grow my business and increase my revenue.

Content strategy for a consulting business:

  • Create and market your referral program
  • Make sure all social media profiles are keyword rich and authentic to your voice
  • Create newsletter

SMART Goal for social media expert:

In order to establish myself as an expert, I will write a 150-page book on social media by writing one chapter per month (3-5 pages per week). The book will be completed in 10 months, and then I will search for a publisher or explore self-publishing.

Content strategy for social media expert:

  • Outline book, and share your thoughts on social media
  • Ask for early readers to give feedback
  • As you write, turn each chapter into a blog post and share before you publish

SMART Goal for small business accountant:
I will acquire the services of a PR/publicity firm and launch a publicity campaign that will help establish me as a well-known expert in small business accounting who is asked to speak publicly on the topic at least once a month, receives interview requests every week and writes one article per month for a top industry publication. This will reinforce my 20+ years of experience in the field and allow me to reach more small business owners who need accounting advice.

Content strategy foran  accountant :

  • Load your blog with good, rich content to establish your expertise
  • Write long-form articles to share on LinkedIn
  • Update your LinkedIn profile with keyword targets

Where to Find the Words

Once you’ve created your SMART goals, and the content ideas to go with it, it’s time to start creating. Love to write? Great; here are some resources to help you get started.

Not interested in doing your own writing? Not to worry; there are plenty of us content creators out there to help. These resources may help you find the right person.

 

 

How to Write a Brand Style Guide (and Why You Need One)

According to Sasha LaFerte at the Content Marketing Institute, branding fails happen “because of a lack of a clear style guide, which can result in inconsistency or miscommunication among you content team.” Creating a brand style guide helps ensure that all of the content you create is consistent, polished, and enjoyable. Your brand style guide will create some rules for your brand, which will tie all your content together like matching dishes at an excellent dinner party.

Knowing your brand style guide will help inform all your content.Image source: Content Marketing Institute

First, look at your brand voice.

In order to create a great style guide, it has to align with your brand’s voice. If you aren’t sure what that sounds like, ask yourself these 5 questions to help find your brand’s voice.

In addition, LaFerte suggests revisiting your company’s mission statement and “About Us” section (if you have them) to “make sure it’s not only on point with what it says but how it says it. If you’re defining your brand voice as conversational, but your mission statement is filled with corporate jargon, it’s probably worth revisiting.”

Second, pick your editorial style base.

Of course, recognizing you need a brand style guide and actually having one are two very different things.

Both the Words Girls and the Content Marketing Institute recommend starting with a base (we use the AP Style Guide.) Go through the baseline and add additional rules if you need them, like whether or not to use the Oxford comma, or specific emoji guidelines (we’ve got a rule about that poop icon. Nope.) You can also add in guidelines on formatting bullets, lists, hyphens, or quotes, anything that defines your particular style.

Finally, add a few more details to your brand style guide.

This is the part that gets tricky. LaFerte suggests including “a section on how to engage, words to stay away from, and any other details that are important to your brand.”

Having a well-defined brand voice will definitely help with this section. Content Marketing Institute has prepared a list of brands with awesome style guides that you can use for reference. With a well-defined brand voice, a bit of time, and a few details, soon your brand could be one of them.

 

 

These 5 Questions Will Help You Find Your Brand Voice

If you’re like most SMB marketers, you’ve created a lot of marketing copy without taking the time to find your brand voice. And you’ve ended up with copy that doesn’t sound like you at all.

 

As Erika Heald notes in a Content Marketing Institute post, “If your logo didn’t appear with your content, could you identify the content as coming from your brand? Would someone viewing your content on different channels know it all came from the same brand?”

How to find your brand voice

An authentic voice is a wildly important part of your marketing strategy. But how do you define it? And how do you share it with the people on your team who need to know how to use it?

Around here we say “Give us a week, and we’ll give you a voice.”

We take Heald’s advice a few steps further, and use a thing we call the Five Question Process. It’s pretty simple. Each workday for one week, you answer one key question about your brand. You can answer them on your own if you’re a solopreneur, or get your team members involved for a wider view. Plan to spend at least 15-20 minutes on each answer. You want to really dig deep and give this some thought.

At the end of the week, you’ll have about 80% of the tough work done to create a workable brand voice guideline you can share with your team. You’ll be ready to define, in just a few short paragraphs, what your brand voice stands for, sounds like and intends. And that information will absolutely transform your marketing.

The five questions to ask about your brand voice

Question 1. Describe your brand as a person. What is that person be like? What are the key elements of your brand’s personality and philosophy? Be sure to think about how your brand interacts with advertisers, investors, clients, families of clients, vendors and the public.

Question 2. Understanding where your brand’s product or services will have an impact is critical to developing a strong brand. What change(s) are you working for in your field, your community, your world, and how does your brand help to bring those changes about?

Question 3. Your brand must speak fluently to and resonate with your intended audience and your stakeholders. Your “audience” might include current clients, advertisers and the general public – anyone who will be directly affected by your content. Who is your primary audience? Your secondary audience? Who do you need to talk? Are there any specific challenges you face in communicating with them?

Question 4. If you could directly speak to each person in your target market, what message would you want to share with them? What do you want people to do when they hear your message?

Question 5. Are there any marketing materials or editorial/branding guidelines already in place for your brand? Are you using them to create your marketing copy? If so, what do you love? What do you not like so much? What’s missing? Are there any examples of voice and style out there than you really like?

Try it and see what bubbles up. Then use your answers to help create your brand’s style guide. Download our sample brand style guide for some inspiration, and of course get in touch if you have any questions.

Here’s to your authentic brand voice…and more engaging content for your audience.

5 Questions to Find Your Brand VoiceReady to get started? Download your copy of 5 Questions to Define Your Brand Voice and get started. Or contact us if you’d like to work together on this.