I spent a few days at the beginning of the month in Cleveland for Content Marketing World, and Jesus, pleaseus was it amazing! Three days of intensive workshops and classes on everything a content marketer’s heart could desire — from analytics and email marketing to storytelling and scriptwriting.
I saw faces I’d only ever seen at the bottom of blog posts or on webinars, and connected with some of my fav people in the biz. And of course, I shamelessly rolled on the ground with adoptable pups from City Dogs during Yappy Hour.
But I know you don’t care about how much I geeked out when I met Ann Handley or who drooled more during Yappy Hour, me or the dogs. So I’m going to skip ahead and share three takeaways from the conference that I think we all — content marketers and business owners alike — need to hear.
#1 Be realistic.
You know the rockstar of your industry? The guy everyone’s always talking about? His name is now a synonym for “success” and — you’re not jealous — but yeah, maybe you roll your eyes a little when his name comes up in conversation.
We all have those people.
As a content marketer, we compare ourselves to Redbull, Wendy’s, Nike, Zappos, [Insert big, successful brand here.] They’re doing such amazing work, engaging with audiences, and seemingly having waaaaay more fun than the rest of us.
But here’s the thing: we’re not the same.
The creative team for Nike likely consists of more than one person. But here, it’s just me, and my time and energy is focused in 403,939,482,039 different directions. Not because I want it to be, but because that’s my reality. When you have a small team or a one-man/woman team, you have to wear multiple hats.
What about you — who are you comparing yourself to? That rockstar who has 50 more employees than you do? Let’s say it together: “I’m not him.” And that means your business doesn’t have to look like his.
Do you feel any relief? Are your shoulders slowly inching away from your ears? Good, because the best thing you can do is be realistic.
Sure, you can take ideas and strategies from businesses that inspire you, that are big and successful, and marry them to where you are in your business. But your momma told you and I’ll tell you again: stop trying to be someone else.
You can take lessons and strategies from the rockstars and see where and how they make sense for your business. But remember, you’re not them, and no one is asking you to be. Be you!
#2 Stop trying to do everything, everywhere.
This is #1’s equally incapacitating cousin. We try to do it all and we try to do it all well. It’s a natural instinct for go getters, self-motivators, and those with entrepreneurial spirits, but some of it comes from external sources…
There are webinars and blog posts and thought leaders telling us we have to:
- be on every social media platform the moment it pops into existence
- market everywhere our audience is
- offer more services and meet every single client need or want
- start a podcast, a video series, a training school…
- do it all better, faster, and more profitably
- oh, and find balance while we’re at it.
Don’t you wish you could just tell everyone to shut up? You can. I give you permission.
To paraphrase Joe Pulizzi, you’re not Ryan Seacrest, so stop trying to be everything to everyone, everywhere.
And here’s the big secret: when you stop Seacresting, you’ll be waaay less stressed and waaay more effective. Yup, every push, every minute, will have more impact on your business. And isn’t that what you really want anyway?
It comes back to accepting your reality: there’s only one of you and you can be much more effective if you split your energy three ways instead of 30. As a business owner, that may mean learning to delegate so you can get some things off of your plate. It may mean cutting your services down or holding off on adding new services until you’re staffed and ready.
Figure out what you can cut back on and what deserves more of your time and energy. Think about which efforts will really move the needle. See which ones are already making a difference and think about what could be if you dedicated more time and energy to X, Y, Z, instead of A-Z.
#3 Take one action item from every learning opportunity.
This one was repeated multiple times during Content Marketing World and I think it’s what allowed me to come back from the conference with a plan and not a conference hangover.
Ready for it? Write down one action item from every learning opportunity, whether you’re listening to a fav podcast, reading a book, attending a conference, summit, or convention, or just having a conversation with one of your mentors. Keep every actionable item in a notebook or a note on your phone, and revisit them when you’re planning your week.
Remember, you can’t do it all, but you can do something. So, lose the comparisons, let go of your attachment to the outcome, and just try something. Don’t try to tackle every item on your list at once — instead, pick one, maybe two a month, and put as much energy and time as you can into making it happen.
One Last Thing…
Okay, actually there is one more lesson…Go to conferences, trade shows, conventions, and trainings whenever you get the chance!
Whether it’s the NCSG Convention, Service World Expo, International Roofing Expo, HPBExpo, or a smaller training or summit, try to get to at least one a year. And when you do, make sure to share what you learn with others. You never know who needs to hear it.
I mean, did you ever think you’d learn anything applicable for your service business from something as nerdy as a content marketing conference? 😉