Right now I have no wifi. I’ve dropped my seventeen year old son at the gym and have an hour and a half to kill. I’d planned to write a post but have no access to my list of pre-written post ideas. I like to plan and my plan has failed, albeit temporarily.
So with a little imagination and no access to my idea bank what am I going to do? I could read a book on my phone or crack open a game but I’ve scheduled time to write a post and I’ve resolved to be disciplined about this stuff.
So I’m going to write a post about what it takes to get better at content marketing. As I’m sitting in a gym coffee shop the post is slightly gym themed. Here are my top seven marketing exercise that will turn you into a marketing superstar.
One thing I’ve discovered really gets in the way for a lot of people is the creative lateral thinking effort required to be consistent in their marketing efforts. Constantly coming up with ideas and producing content is central to getting anywhere with content marketing and the simple truth is, like anything worth doing, it’s pretty hard work.
Like going to the gym, when the time comes to get up and go, you just have no get up and go. When you do manage to overcome that standard resistance you really enjoy yourself. Marketing content is pretty much the same. Only with brain sweat, not wet sweat.
One technique I find helps a lot with the gym is to remove as much resistance as I can the night before. I prepare the gym clothes and I set out my breakfast. In the morning I roll right out of bed into my shorts and trainers and momentum carries me to the gym, or run, or whatever.
Applying this to your marketing discipline is very similar. If you know you find resistance in the idea generation side of things then lay out some ideas the night before.
James Altucher – Ten ideas a day
James Altucher, a very well known blogger, author and speaker is famous ( kind of ) for his ‘daily practise’. It’s a list of things to do every day for a better life. One of these items is something I’ve found pretty powerful. On a simple pad just try and generate ten ideas. They can be about anything. They could be ten things you like to eat. Ten ways you could improve your health. Ten things you can sit on. You need to write them down but you don’t need to take action on them. Just write down ten ideas everyday and then forget about them. Take no action beyond generating the ideas. This daily habit does two things. It signals to the unconscious that you value new ideas and start working on this while you do other things. It also works the idea generation muscles.
Keep a list of post topics handy
Extend this into maintaining a list of content topic ideas. When you want to work on your marketing efforts you often find you have no ideas. Set aside time for working solely on ideas and capturing them. Don’t take any action on this list during capture time. Just work on the creative process of idea capture.
Keep a journal
If you are not used to writing then just getting words out of your head and into text can be ridiculously hard. Overcome this by writing a little bit, often. Keep a journal on the things that happened during the day. Don’t worry about being clever or witty. Just write down what happened. Over a fairly short time it will start to feel natural.
Set yourself a marketing challenge. Make it achievable and stick to it. You could start simple and post to Instagram once a week, or you could go hardcore and write two blog posts per week. You decide what a challenge looks like for you.
Schedule or time block
Working a todo list is a recipe for failure. When you work according to a todo list you’ll prioritise the urgent things over the really ‘important’ things. Things which help us drive our businesses forward are rarely urgent. Nobody is waiting for us to do them.
Instead of working a todo list plan your day in advance. Allocate time blocks for everything you want to achieve and then roll through the time blocks. I use a spreadsheet for this and plan the whole week out in advance. When ‘urgent things’ come up – I have a time block marked ‘buffer’ where these tasks can go.
For more on this read ’15 Secrets of Effective Time Management’ – Kevin Kruse
.. or for a lighter version – ‘You’re terrible at being your own boss! Here’s how to build a better one.’ – Colin Gray.
Get to know the platforms and the principles
This seems really simple but I meet a lot of business owners and marketers who ‘tell me’ they really want to be better at marketing their businesses but what they ‘really’ want is the results of their businesses being better marketed. It’s like saying you wish you had a six pack but having no desire to enter a gym. It won’t happen if you don’t do the work. Before you can do the work you have to know the drills, how the machines work and most importantly you have to show up. Reading blogs and spending time on social media is like going to the marketing gym. You need the knowledge and you need to understand the platforms. If you don’t do this then how can you hope to perform in the real world. You just won’t be effective.
Your business is not unique. If you are struggling to find your voice and are new to promoting your business then look around for people who are doing it really well and model them. Modelling is a powerful way of learning new techniques from people who are already where you want to be. Search for a study people who are already where you want to be and learn everything you can about what makes them tick.
Like the gym. Start small. Challenge yourself to get better and work at it every day. Incremental gains add up over time and if you do the work you’ll get better. There will be set backs ( like no wifi and a long wait ) but you’ll have a plan for that. Most importantly take action. Execution trumps everything and in the world of digital marketing it’s the business that takes action consistently over time that wins. As Gary Vaynerchuck says – “the business that’s closest to the customer wins”. You won’t get close if you don’t start moving.