Strategic insights are the baseline for success
There are acronyms, resolutions, list-makers and app-trackers. Wherever you land on the goal-setting spectrum, you know that goals play a role in everything from hitting up Orange Theory to driving content marketing projects. In fact, as content marketing evolves, there’s one thing that remains clear: setting clear, results-driven goals is crucial to your success.
Besides the fact that goals are proven to trigger action and guide strategy toward an end result, they also help us frame our objectives and explain why our efforts matter to the brand. Of course, you might hear people say things like, “Our goal is improving our reputation,” or “Our goal is to increase awareness.” These vague statements aren’t helpful when making goals and won’t lead to strategic insights that will help your brand, but don’t panic. Instead, ask the organization why is it important to them that they improve their reputation or increase awareness. Chances are, they can explain their reasoning and give you a concrete way to shape their goals that respond to the actual problem.
So how do we set the right goals? Here are some tips to help guide you:
- Set clearly defined goals. The first thing you should do before undertaking any content marketing initiative is to develop a clearly defined goal. Avoid anything too abstract, and keep asking yourself, “Why is this important to the organization,” and “What’s the desired end result,” until you hit on something you can measure. Identify goals as early as possible and communicate them clearly from the very beginning so that they’re understood by all team members from your interns to your CEO.
- Determine how/when you will measure goals. There’s nothing worse than measurement that looks like an afterthought. Saving measurement until the end to see if your results met the project’s goals – which leaves no time for strategy adjustments – won’t give you any flexibility to keep you on track. Put a plan in place to measure progress towards goals throughout the project, and you’ll afford yourself the opportunity to tweak and tinker with your strategy until you’re on the right path to success.
- Break down your silo. We’re not talking farms here. The key to a successful measurement plan is to step outside of your comfort zone and work with people from different areas of expertise. This can be one of the most challenging parts of the whole process. You may hear, “That’s your goal, not a goal for my team.” Avoid this roadblock by getting everyone’s buy-in from the start of the project. Clearly explain what you hope to achieve and how this affects the overall big picture. Show why unified efforts matter to the full team. Set up a schedule for regular check-ins to ensure your cross-department collaborators remain committed to the end goal.
- Report your data in a way that makes sense to your C-suite. Who wants to look at a boring Excel grid? Or your old-school clippings book or files? You should focus on reporting results in a narrative fashion – through data storytelling. The key is to show results over time in the language the person you’re reporting to will understand. Do this by mixing visuals like graphs, charts, relevant screen grabs and videos with your strategic insights. Show progress – good and bad – and have information ready every step of the way to discuss how the results influenced your strategy. If possible, report results in person. Don’t worry, this doesn’t have to be a formal presentation, it merely allows you to answer questions and close any of the holes that leave the results open to interpretation.
So, party like it’s the New Year and start implementing goals at the start of your projects. Setting attainable, clearly-defined goals that advance the overall mission of your clients will help you achieve success in content marketing. Make sure you’re doing your hard work justice by framing the results of your efforts in a way that’s easily understood by your clients or supervisors, and always relate it back to their big picture goals. With this method, there’s always something to celebrate.