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Content marketing: how process powers success

Everybody wants to win. From pro sports to pro marketers, we all want to beat the competition and be at the top of our game. And while I do try to avoid sports analogies – not everyone is into sports – there is at least one parallel worth exploring.

In both sports and business, what’s frequently lost in the discussion about winning is that the will to win isn’t some made-for-the-movies indomitable spirit. (Though a good dose of grit doesn’t hurt.) It’s about preparation. You don’t hit the winning shot or close the big deal because you wanted it more than the other team; you succeed because of the work you did in advance to prepare for the challenges you expect to face.

Which brings us to the topic of process. The preparation that sets you up for the win is much easier – and more effective – when it’s part of a larger plan. Process – that larger plan – gives you a framework within which the preparation becomes a step toward your goal. Importantly, it gives you something more productive to focus on than goals.

Sounds crazy, right? I did just tell you to forget about your goals, didn’t I?

Well, sort of. First, I am suggesting that you focus on your content marketing process rather than your content marketing goals, but I’m not suggesting you ignore outcomes. Those are still important; they tell you whether you’re moving toward your goals or losing ground.

Here’s an example that should clarify what I mean. Instead of focusing on, say, doubling sales, it’s more productive to focus on the steps that will lead you there. So, to double sales, perhaps you need to improve the quality of the leads you are generating by 15%. To improve the quality of leads by 15% you need to target content more tightly to each of three audience segments. To more tightly target content, you have to do X, Y, and Z.

That X, Y, and Z now becomes your process. Maybe X is interviewing 1 existing client and 1 prospect per week to gain more insights into their motivation. And Y is producing 2 new pieces and revising one existing piece of content per week taking advantage of these new insights. You get the idea.

Once you have the plan in place, you have broken your large goal into manageable and actionable tasks. It’s much easier to track whether you’ve made the calls and written the content, which are concrete tasks, than it is to decide whether you’ve moved yourself closer to doubling your sales.

In fact, the goal can change and you can adjust your process without having to toss the system and start from scratch. That’s the beauty of processes and systems. They allow you to repeat positive results over and over. And that’s what content marketing success is built on: being able to focus on the high-level questions knowing that your process is keeping the day-to-day work pointed in the right direction.

Sadly, that doesn’t mean the day-to-day work is an easier. It does means that it’s easier to do effectively.

Andrew Schulkind

Since 1996, Andrew Schulkind has asked clients one simple question: what does digital marketing success look like, and how can marketing progress be measured? A veteran content marketer, web developer, and digital strategist, Andrew founded Andigo New Media to help firms find a more strategic and productive mix of tools that genuinely support online brand goals over time. With a passion for true collaboration and meaningful consensus, his work touches social media, search-engine optimization, and email marketing, among other components. He views is primary goal as encouraging engagement. Getting an audience involved in your story requires solid information architecture, a great user experience, and compelling content. A dash of common sense doesn’t hurt, either. Andrew has presented at Social Media Week NY and WordCampNYC, among other events, on content marketing and web-development topics. His technology writing appears on the Andigo blog, in a monthly column on, and for print and online publications like The New York Enterprise Report, Social Media Today, and GSG Worldwide’s publications LinkedIn & Business, Facebook & Business, and Tweeting & Business. Andrew graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from Bucknell University. He engages in a range of community volunteer work and is an avid fly fisherman and cyclist. He also loves collecting meaningless trivia. (Did you know the Lone Ranger made his mask from the cloth of his brother's vest after his brother was killed by "the bad guys?")

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  1. Kelly Hubbard

    When I first started blogging I would just write aimlessly and got burned out – no visitors, no return, turned into no motivation! I sorted it out now got all my content planned for at least 1 month in advance and it all follows a sequence, everything is working as it should,
    Thanks for the share.

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