New Year’s Resolutions: How to Be a Better Marketer in 2018

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Content Marketing

It’s hard to believe that 2018 is already here. What marketing resolutions have you made for the coming year?

Below is a list of the tiny tweaks or wholesale adjustments I aim to make, to both my processes and to my attitude, in 2018. All of these are intended to help me be a better marketer.

Marketing resolution #1: I will work smarter.

In 2018, I want to spend less time at my desk. Instead of being rooted in my seat (or at my standing desk) for more time than is necessary, I will be focused and lean. I will drop in to my job, get it done, and get out to live my life.

In practical terms that means I will find ways to lend myself a proverbial hand by saving time.

I will reduce, reuse, and/or recycle content. I will turn my blog posts into webinar scripts, and I will extract taglines from brochures and tweet them. I will find ways to feed multiple birds with one seed, so they say. I will also make sure I update the right things at the right time to keep up with Google’s freshness patent – which tracks how new content is (new pages or refreshed content) and adjusts rankings accordingly.

I will let marketing automation do part of my job for me, whenever possible. I may have to do upfront work – such as setting up customer profiles and lists – but then I will let my systems notify me when it’s time to send customers an email or revisit my dashboards and metrics.

I will not only create an editorial calendar, but I will actually use it. I will consult those plans at the start of each month and use them as a guide to keep me on track, rather than starting over with a blank page and a head-scratch.

But I will also make sure to add some buffer – some space to play, or make quick adjustments. I recently read a book called Brain Surfing, in which the author (a marketer herself) traveled the world to meet, shadow, and learn from other marketing professionals. One of those marketers was Jason Oke, who challenges marketers to not be so heavily reliant on their editorial calendar that they can’t be nimble and adjust to the world around them as needed. “I have to question the wisdom of rigid plans made far in advance, because we’ll never have perfect foresight no matter how much research we do,” he says.

I will try to hold these resolutions in balance in 2018.

Marketing resolution #2: I will work faster.

In 2018 I will employ productivity hacks to make my day more efficient.

I will apply structure and rigor to the way I store work-in-progress files and notes, and I will streamline the tools I use and narrow them down to just a few. (I will have to choose from the Google suite, Slack, OneNote – some of my favorites.) And I will toss the rest, which will keep my desktop and mobile devices streamlined and focused with only the tools and apps that I really need.

I will set up a timer so I’m minding the clock. I will let myself work in bursts, my natural rhythm, rather than tiresome marathons. In fact, as I write this I’m testing myself – unintentionally – because my laptop battery is about to die. I have about 10 minutes before my “working burst” will be forced to end.

Again, I will reduce/reuse/recycle content. Because not only is it smarter, it is faster. I know that we have come a long way from saying simply “Content is king” in a vacuum. There is so much content out there for our customers (current and potential) to wade through. We need to help funnel the right things to the right people – ideally at the right time. With marketing automation, we can send the right message at the right time to our personas and potential customers.

Another way I will save time is by employing repeatable processes. If I’m doing the same thing over and over, I can shave off some minutes by establishing rigor around it.

I will try, whenever possible, to collaborate with others. As the saying goes, many hands make light work. So too with sharing a workload.

Out of curiosity, I wanted to see if I could assign real numeric values – ROI – to this section on productivity hacks. To do so, I ran a quick math calculation: I assumed I could save myself five minutes daily with some of these hacks. (It may be more, but I wanted to start small.) In a typical five-day work week, that results in nearly half an hour of salvaged time. This probably doesn’t seem like much. But over a typical 50 weeks of work in a year (two are for vacation), that’s nearly 25 hours saved! Suddenly that sounds more significant, right? That’s three business days – plus an hour. (I plan to take myself out to lunch and treat myself for a job well done. You should, too!)

Marketing resolution #3: I will lean into innovation…

Innovation means change, new products, and unchartered territory.

In 2018, I will challenge myself to not stick with the status quo. No sacred cows. I will look beyond “the way things are” and consider tools or tactics that are new or relatively new. I will try some things and push myself out of my comfort zone. This may mean I use new channels or new technology.

Marketing resolution #4: … yet I won’t be afraid to go old-school.

But there are some things I don’t want to get rid of, such as my pen, paper, and whiteboards. I will unabashedly keep using these tools when I’m brainstorming ideas or jotting notes at cafes. My brain just works better that way – out of the digital and into the analog. Plus, it’s just simpler. I like that.

I will also look to embrace fundamental marketing concepts and tactics, such as going back to basics to re-learn how to write effective headlines and CTAs. I may even assign myself Marketing 101 homework, such as creating a SWOT and/or competitive analysis. Kicking it old school may be just the thing I need to kickstart new ideas.

Marketing resolution #5: I will seek inspiration.

I may also literally go back to school by attending a class. There’s a lot of great online learning out there on channels like Lynda and Khan Academy. I will make it a goal to do some online schooling or listen in on webinars. Whether they’re about marketing fundamentals or brand-spanking-new channels, strategies, or tactics, I bet I will learn something.

I also hope to stray outside of my marketing bubble and learn something else – such as a new way to use words, via a poetry or podcasting workshop. Or challenge myself by learning how to describe something using only images.

Speaking of learning, I will study the experts, too – by keeping tabs on what marketing and content experts have to say in 2018.

One other source of inspiration? Space. In 2018, I aim to leave space on my calendars to dream and think – to let my mind wander and see where it goes.

Marketing resolution #6: I will move — literally and figuratively.

Getting out of my office – stretching my legs and seeing new scenery – can help me gain new perspective. So, I will let myself take a walk every few hours, even if it’s just for a five-minute spin around the block. I will do yoga when I can, and lift weights. And during all of these activities, I will be sure to keep a notepad or my phone handy in anticipation of the ideas that will flow when I’ve let my mind stop actively thinking. (It’s funny how that works.)

As part of my moving, I will make sure to get out of my office – and city. I will try to attend a conference or two, and maybe even take a vacation for some perspective.

If the opportunity is right, I will look for ways to move in my career, as well – such as lateral or upward job changes. Industry moves. Taking on new clients.

Figuratively, I will also leave space in my marketing plans to be more nimble – per my learnings from Brain Surfing, outlined above.

Marketing resolution #7: I will find ways and make time to give back.

Despite my resolution to keep learning, I also recognize that my career to date gives me something called experience. And because of that, I have skills that I can share with others. And here’s the thing: Even if you’re brand new in your career, you have something to share, too.

I’ve discovered that when I reach outward to people, I usually I end up being the one fulfilled by new learnings, new perspectives. A little empathy never hurt a marketer.

In 2018, I will be on the lookout for ways to use those skills to help others. This may mean training new employees, giving a lunch-and-learn presentation, volunteering, or even finding ways to support causes via pro bono work and/or partnerships via cause marketing.

Marketing resolution #8: I will keep my eyes on the competition.

When I was growing up, I was a competitive swimmer. I learned to keep my head on a swivel in the pool to see where my competitors were at all times. My peripheral vision – and who I saw in it – was hugely motivational. So, proverbially and literally (see #6), I will go jump in the pool and see what my competitors are up to.

Marketing resolution #9: I will be unafraid to fail.

Not everything in life will work out. If it did, it would be boring. In 2018, I will try something new in my career at least a few times throughout the year. I will see what new tricks this old(ish) dog can learn. I will chase boundaries and see how far I can push them. And if the fence falls in on me, so be it. I can chalk that up to a learning experience, too.

Marketing resolution #10: I will stay curious.

My ultimate resolution for 2018? I will not let complacency defeat me. I will keep my eyes and ears open. I will pay attention to news from the marketing industry, the tech world – and the world at large. I will ask Why?, How?, and Why? again. I will let myself be humbled by what I don’t know, and open to learn what I need to know.

Those are the things on my list. What are your marketing resolutions for 2018?