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 create outside the box content ideas

For a lot of the solopreneurs and SMB owners, the term “content marketing” doesn’t have any real meaning. Maybe you’re the same way, unsure of just what this all means. But there is a process you can use to create outside the box content ideas.

Take Rita Long for example. She’s an amazing artist, and I have several of her pieces in my home. We like to bat ideas around, and have a standing call every Friday morning to get the ideas flowing.

Where those outside the box content ideas come from

Two weeks ago we were talking about a new idea for marketing. Rita wants to make it easy for  interior decorators to sell her work, by helping them create room ideas around the artwork. Lavender Fields, for example, is a beautiful oil on canvas inspired by Rita’s travels to the south of France. And it has the place of honor in my North Carolina dining room (no, it’s not for sale…but she does take commissions).  I love the piece, and it’s inspired the rest of the decor for my main rooms.

Outside the box content for artists - Lavender Fields

So we hit on the idea of making “swatches” for her paintings.

The idea is to create a printed “swatch flyer” for each painting. On the flyer would be a copy of the artwork with three or four of the key colors highlighted and defined. Then we’d tell a little story about the painting, and how it might work in a particular type of decor.

So I started putting my thoughts into some kind of visual representation. (Note: I use Canva for this kind of work; I’m not a graphic designer in any way, and the SaaS graphic design site makes it pretty easy to create visually.)

Outside the box content artist swatch

I sent it off to Rita, and she loved the idea. We talked a bit more about how she’d use it, and I decided to add some descriptive text and, of course, some branding:Outside the box content artist swatch - Rita Long Art

Even better. This led us to talk about a quick video she could make to help boost the idea, and all of sudden we’ve got a multi-channel piece of content out into the world. About an hour later, she sent me this:

How to get there; the 5 step process for out of the box content

Rita can now use the swatch flyer, the video and this blog post to help sell her art. Gallery owners and decorators will be able to understand how she can work with them to help their customers. And that’s the end game we’re after in a B2B campaign like this.

So, how did we get there? Let’s break it down.

1. Understand your persona

There’s really not much point in making marketing content if you don’t do this step. You have to know who you’re creating for, what they need, and how you can meet that need. Once you have that, the ideas start to flow. Rita and I spent maybe 15-20 minutes talking about decorators and and how they work before this idea bubbled up.

2. Talk it out

Bat the ideas around. One conversation leads to another idea, then another. Give this process the respect it deserves. When you hit on an idea that you agree has legs, commit to taking it further. We agreed we liked the swatch idea. It went on the To-Do list right then.

3. Rough it up

Put the initial ideas into some kind of format. If the content will be a long-form article, start with an outline. If it’s a design piece like Rita’s swatches, lay it out. You’re not looking for perfection at this point. The idea is to get enough of an idea together that you can see the holes. At this point, everyone should be able to see enough to get really excited about the idea.

4. Add the polish

Fill the holes, add the copy, and remember your branding. No one I know gets it right the first time. Don’t be afraid to say “what if …” Of course, you have to know when to say when, or you could spend your life making tiny changes. But allow the process to run its course.

5. Repurpose it

Where can I use this on other channels? Can I make a video to share it? Would it work on Instagram? Maybe a blog post. Maybe we’ll eventually put the swatches together into a book to give away to decorators (are you listening Rita? This could be great for getting commission work!) No piece of content stands alone.

For a content strategist like me, this process is just plain fun. Marketing is only “work” if you approach it that way. Play with your ideas, don’t be afraid to offer suggestions or random thoughts.

Once you hit on an idea that shines, see it through. I’m proud of Rita for taking this to the next step and doing the video. And I can’t wait to see the response when she gets it out in public.

Content marketing is such a broad term that it can be hard to really see how it applies to a smaller business. Creating outside the box content can be done.  It’s really all about the “stuff” you put out into the world — on digital or in real life — and how your audience will use it.