I’m a business owner, consultant, and father of one with another on the way.
Needless to say, I don’t have a whole lot of time. I’m not special in this regard. Most business owners fit some version of this mold.
Maybe you’re trying to grow your side-gig into a career.
Maybe you’re profitable, but still putting in long hours and weekends.
For business owners, time is a finite resource. In your personal life, your exercise routine is usually first to go when you don’t have time. This is against the advice of medical professionals and other experts that say exercise is foundational to a healthy lifestyle; exercise increases energy levels, focus, and sleep quality among myriad other benefits.
I stopped in my mid-20s and steadily started gaining weight. By 30, I noticed my mobility and energy decreasing, and often woke up with aches and pains. That advice I always used to hear from doctors and fitspo gurus started making sense!
I needed to make a change. I didn’t have time but needed to make it.
I did, and after the first week, an amazing thing happened.
My body looked the same. I didn’t feel better. There was no change in my sleep or energy. I was actually more tired than before.
“What is the point?” I thought. “When am I going to see some ROI?”
Right About Now Is When People Quit Exercising AND Content Marketing
At Zenpost, we know how important it is to regularly post to our blog, yet for the longest time, we just couldn’t seem to find the time for it.
We’re not alone. According to a 2018 survey, a whopping 75% of SMBs don’t have a strategy for inbound marketing (that catch-all term for content marketing, the blog, social media, branding, SEO, and more).
Other statistics from this year are also pretty grim. Less than one-third of businesses do any SEO, about three-quarters don’t spend enough on marketing, and roughly half of small businesses don’t even have a website.
It doesn’t make a lot of sense that this would be the case. All of us know how important inbound marketing is. It generates twice as many leads as outbound. Most businesses agree those leads are higher quality. Not only that, those leads are dramatically less expensive than outbound leads.
These aren’t trade secrets.
Still, most business owners we talk to treat their content like an afterthought.
A “maybe someday.”
They like the thought of a powerful inbound marketing strategy and good, clickable, shareable content, but it’s an aspirational goal, like a six-pack. It doesn’t seem real or attainable, but it’s a good goal.Effective content marketing is like aspiring for six-pack abs. It doesn't seem real or attainable, but it's a good goal to have.Click To Tweet
But like setting foot inside a gym for the first time without a plan, it’s hard to know where to start. So you poke around the elliptical a few times a week so you can say you did something. You keep putting it off until it’s 4:30 on a Friday. You say you’ll go get a quick run in before the weekend, but we both know that’s not true.
After a few weeks, you quit altogether.
Does this describe you? Heck, we admitted it above. It’s true of us!
We know it’s wrong. So how did we at Zenpost snap ourselves out of it?
We’re Embracing The ‘3-Month Slump’
I kept at my workout routine, and slowly, my energy levels started to pick up. My sleep improved. I looked better and my clothes fit nicely.
The workouts stopped hurting. I started to feel those little kicks of dopamine that fitness nuts swear by. There were little signs of life all along, but it wasn’t until about 90 days in that I looked back on my progress and realized how much I’d made. From there, it was a habit. I knew exercise had to be a part of my life and couldn’t imagine going without it.
The exact same thing happens with content marketing.
Bottom line, the reason so many businesses can’t get their content marketing off the ground is that they’re looking for strategies that yield immediate ROI. It’s understandable, but it’s wrong. Comparing inbound to outbound is apples to oranges.
Content marketing is like exercise. You do a few workouts and since there’s no immediate ROI, it’s very tempting to give up. Even though you know the benefits of exercise. Even though you know how important it is to your overall health.
Waiting until 4:30 on a Friday afternoon to squeeze a workout in is a terrible plan. So why wait until then to sit down and hammer out a quick blog and a few Instagram posts?
That’s like skipping a healthy home-made meal and getting a combo from McDonald’s. Sure, it’s fast, convenient, and gets the job done, but it doesn’t actually help you and you’re not particularly proud of yourself afterward.
My challenge to you is this: If you can make time for a 30-60 minute workout a few times a week, you can also make time for content marketing.
Expect and embrace a 3-month slump. Don’t feel discouraged when you put out a newsletter, a blog post, or some social content and don’t see any traction. Most people quit exercising at this point. But quitting exercising doesn’t make your body healthy; why would quitting content marketing make your business healthy?
Cue the “it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon” cliche.
But it’s a popular cliche because it’s actually true. Soon enough, you’ll start getting those compliments on your “looks” (a like here and there, a share, a comment on a blog post, etc.). One day you’ll look back at the progress you’ve made and realize the health and fitness of your business are better than ever.
Think of content marketing as the personal fitness of your business. It takes hard work and discipline. The ROI isn’t immediate.
But there are only bad reasons to put it off.