Creating a 2017 review of content marketing and 2018 aspirations story is difficult and risky. It’s difficult because a look back at what happened with content marketing over any period can be frustrating, exciting and excruciating all at the same time. Risky because as Zig Ziglar once wrote, “If it’s a give-up goal, tell everyone. If it’s a go-up goal, keep it to yourself.”
Plus, Content Marketing’s not a silver bullet that finds its target immediately – it’s more like science. Iterative and focused.
In this post, you’ll read about what I learned during a year as an interested Podcaster not committed to producing, the leader of an evolving sales and marketing team, a person with a growing desire to be a better teacher, musings of a content marketing advocate, reflections on what worked and what didn’t and, finally, what I am looking forward to in 2018.
How was 2017 and what about 2018?
In 2016, I set a goal to start podcasting. Why? Who knows. Listening to them while I exercise is enjoyable, I believed I had something to say and wanted to do it. So, I launched the Cognified Marketing and Selling Podcast on 12/31/16. Against my own advice, I put out the public goal of 52 episodes in 2017. I did eight.
The first episode laid out the agenda for the show was produced with questionable audio quality, but it was my first attempt and I was excited to “go live.” The second episode was a recording with a physician I know and we created a good second episode. Unfortunately, I got the audio tracks out of synch while editing the episode, had to swallow my pride, ask him for a “do-over” and it all worked out fine. Lesson #1 – don’t work on the original track.
The delay, the time required to get schedules combined, edit the episode and produce it pushed this into February and I was already behind. My next episode was an interview with a friend of mine who runs an ophthalmic practice, we had a lot of fun doing it and that one didn’t happen until early June.
Now, I was so far behind my schedule that I began to think about ways to catch-up and told myself, “Ok, I can do two a week now until the end of the year and still hit my goal.” Again, I failed.
I won’t go through every episode and what happened. It was a year of learning and for that I am grateful. I love doing the show and now understand that it’s ok for me to put together an episode of me talking about a topic that teaches about some aspect of doing something smarter, work to arrange interviews and keep on the schedule. Once the habit is ingrained, the results follow.
Sightpath Medical Year in Review
I continue to serve Sightpath Medical as a shareholder and EVP of Sales and Marketing. Four years of challenges keep our team nimble, evolving, ready to overcome obstacles and continuing our quest for smart ways to serve the ophthalmology market.
We didn’t reach the lofty goals we set for our business for the year, we outperformed expectations given the unchartered waters we continue to navigate and grew our business year-over-year. Our “Inside Baseball” approach to selling in the market is proving successful and we are buoyed by the results of the cost-efficient, agile and metric guided selling and marketing strategies we are using.
It’s hard forging a path different than what people expect and sometimes the naysayers create unnecessary turbulence. Armchair quarterbacks don’t feel the pain of loss or enjoy the thrill of victory. They only criticize and say, with the risky clarity of hindsight, “So-and-so says you can’t do it that way. Why didn’t you do it this way? Prove it’s working.”
In mid-2017, we went all-in with a Content Marketing Strategy for Sightpath Medical and the clients of Sightpath Creative. I’ll write more about this exciting initiative below and I am grateful for the work done by Jeffrey Martin, Lauren Maxam, Amanda Kowalewski, Courtney Lopresti , Kim Bradley and Allyson Seal to lay the foundation we built for many years of success.
Online Course Creation
Early in my career, I thought to teach was for those who couldn’t get it done. You know the saying, “Those who can do. Those who can’t, teach.”
With much gratitude, I now consider myself a “teacher” more than I am a doer. Why? Because I learned to understand that if I teach someone something that I know it extends the reach of my learning. Isn’t this the essence of education? “Give a man a fish and eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and eats for a lifetime.”
My brother learned this earlier than me and that’s why he’s dedicated his career to teaching high school and college mathematics. I admire him a lot.
Taking a complex topic, breaking it into bite-size chunks, designing a curriculum and creating an engaging delivery is my new passion. All of this together leads to what I call Platform Building and I want to help people learn how to do that.
“Platform” is a word used a lot in ophthalmology these days. Private Equity groups refer to practices as “Platforms,” the doctors are left scratching their heads, wondering what it means and if they’re “one of those?” If you’re asking that questions, probably not. The good news is that it’s never too late to get started building a platform.
Sales reps and marketing folks need a platform, too. In the connected age, the digital exhaust we leave can either be leveraged to build a platform or ignored. When you apply the lever, you create a beacon that shines in your absence and builds trust. When you don’t, there is a void, we know that nature abhors a vacuum and fills it with something else. Accurate or not.
Content is the best way to create the planks that will make your platform and you will see results in proportion to your efforts. You already produce content now and you may not know it. Why not start learning to do it with strategy, purpose, and design? Soon, I’ll be ready to help you with that in an easy and online format at teachable.com.
The Year of Immersion in Content Marketing and Content Strategy
It’s true, content is king. More than 60% of companies in a most recent survey say they are committing 70% more spending to content creation and execution. They’re doing this because it works. We’re proof of this at Sightpath Medical.
Content Marketing works because it is specific, targeted and measurable. These attributes are why we went all-in with this strategy in 2017 at Sightpath Medical. We’re glad we did because it’s now paying dividends in the form of increased leads, improved collaboration between sales and marketing and reduced expenses.
We will make this strategy even more focused in 2018 by implementing a new method I developed called, Territory Based Content Marketing (TBCM). It is with all of the humility I can muster that I use the pronoun, “I” in this situation. It is true that I developed this line of thinking, but it is the team who will determine the validity of the concept.
TBCM is a micro approach to the content marketing experience for sales reps and marketing teams. If you believe that sales is closest to customers and markets and that marketing studies, identifies and knows about customers and markets, why not mash these two together and take it down to a hyper-focused strategy to the territory level? We’re doing that this year and we’re excited about getting going!
In the past two years, with our model at Sightpath Medical using a centralized sales team that travels into their territories with defined plans, clear objectives and adaptive strategies the alignment with marketing improved. Watching this happen every day is exciting and fulfilling. The credit for this goes to the teams and their willingness to try something new, focus on the objective and resist finger pointing. It is this work and attitude that makes this new strategy possible.
One of our core beliefs at Sightpath is, “We’re in this together.” We believe this is true for our customers, departments and individual employees. Content marketing helps us deliver on this belief because we are all content producers. TBCM takes this to an even deeper level and we’re anxious to get started executing on this exciting new strategy in 2018.
Reflections on 2017 and Aspirations for 2018
2017 was a good year. I met the majority of my personal and financial goals and I’m grateful. Where I failed, I can trace the events back to the source and take pleasure in what I learned.
The power of goals is amazing to me. I recently read a story in Success magazine about Gabby Bernstein and her life adventures. Gabby’s got an amazing story, but I disagree with her belief that setting goals are not important. Her views on the power of letting go are inspiring and I agree with her, but you still need to chart a course and set sail.
For 2018, I set goals for my personal life, Sightpath Medical, and Joel Gaslin Media. Did you set yours? How are you doing so far? Admittedly, I’m behind on a plan I created for content development in Joel Gaslin Media this year. If you find value in a simple content development schedule, you may use what I created to track my own progress by
Conclusion, a Few Ideas and Help Coming Soon!
To help me work towards all of my goals, I used Chris Brogan’s Three Word Strategy. I wrote about that last week. My words are Cognified, Lever and Friction. I am liking this strategy so far and hope what you’re doing is working for you.
I hope you have a good year and that you do what makes you uncomfortable. Here is a Baker’s Dozen of ideas to help:
1. Pick a new skill and learn it. To mastery.
2. Find a hero and connect with that person.
3. Exercise at least three times a week where you get dripping with seat and get your heart pumping.
4. Buy the person in line behind you their lunch. Or coffee.
5. Listen more to someone you love.
6. Get up thirty minutes earlier and meditate.
7. Be nice to yourself. Even when you screw up. We all do it…
8. Go to bed earlier.
9. Give up the damn processed sugar (Me….).
10. Buy yourself something you’ve always wanted. If it’s expensive, so what? Set it as a goal!
11. Buy someone else something you know they’ve always wanted. Expensive? See above…
12. Find something bigger than yourself to believe in.
13. Eat nothing for a day and drink only water.
As always, thanks for taking the time to read my work. I’m grateful you’re here and appreciate you using some of your time to pick-up what I’m laying down. We live in an amazing time and we can have all reach our goals if we’re willing to do the work. If you want help and are interested in keeping up with some of the new teaching courses I’m creating about marketing, platform building and selling, fill in the box below and you’ll be the first to know when new content is available to help you.