The Hidden Dangers of Setting Goals & How to Adjust Your Approach

Last fall, I was talking to a client who had a rather aggressive deadline for a significant content marketing initiative. After discussing the project, I asked the key question:
What is driving that deadline?
The answer: The new year was coming. The company wanted to feel like they were starting fresh and on the right foot.
This type of arbitrary goal setting is common in business, but in many cases, it does more harm than good. Along with being random (in reality, all the start of 2016 means is that you need a new calendar) it is also self-serving.
Your audience won’t applaud your rush. Chances are that deadline is significant only to you, and not at all to them. They won’t even notice you launched your new content initiative at the start of the year.
What they will notice is great work.
In order to do great work that is meaningful to your audience, there needs to be strategic thought behind each of these well-intentioned but often misguided goals.
The Hidden Dangers of Goal Setting & How to Adjust Your Approach

Deadlines

Like the client mentioned above, many companies are driven by a false sense of urgency. Deadlines need to be set in order to achieve goals, but careful consideration should be given to how a deadline is developed.
Would it be great to say your revamped blog launched January 1? Sure! Would it be great to launch a revamped blog on January 1 if you didn’t take the time to focus on strategy and a long-term plan for its success? No.
Craft your deadlines based on what needs to be accomplished. Once you develop a reasonable deadline, you can adjust if needed without sacrificing crucial steps.
Words to live by: “Anything worth doing is worth doing right.”

Content quantity

There is no magical number of white papers, blog posts or webinars that will make you a leader in your industry.
There is, however, a number of white papers, blog posts or webinars that you can create given the time, budget and manpower you have available. There is a number and priority of topics that your content efforts should focus on. There is a number of content pieces that you can do an outstanding job at creating.
Those are the numbers you should focus on.
It is easy (and common) to approach the quantity question differently. Completing a white paper per month, for example, is an arbitrary and dangerous goal. It puts businesses in the position of “needing” to create 12 white papers per year. As a result, they backfill topics for each white paper. Those topics might not be meaningful; the amount of work it takes to complete them might not be necessary.
The better way? Identify the areas in which you are an expert and can speak with authority. Then focus on developing killer content in those key areas using the resources you have.
Words to live by: Create “the minimal amount of content for the maximum amount of impact.” – Content Marketing Institute’s Robert Rose

The Hidden Dangers of Setting Goals & How to Adjust Your Approach - Cursive Content Marketing

Content formats & channels

Snapchat might be generating a lot of buzz amongst marketers, but it doesn’t mean you need to be there.
The stats on the effectiveness of video might be compelling, but video might not be your best next step.
Your biggest competitor might be on Instagram, but that doesn’t make it the right platform for you.
When goals surrounding content formats and channels are set based on irrelevant influences—such as hype or the fear of missing out—things can go downhill, fast.
An initiative should be evaluated based on your goals, audience, message and resources, and how well that aligns with a platform or format.
Words to live by: “Be specific about your purpose.” – Joe Pulizzi in Epic Content Marketing
Make big plans, but ground them in strategy. Set short- and long-term goals to help mentally bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to go. Evaluate. Learn from successes and mistakes. Make 2016 your best year yet.
Need help developing a strategic approach to 2016 goal setting and achievement? Work with us.

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