We all want to cross the finish line – the sooner, the better. But, like most things in life, we need patience, perseverance, and a promise to reach our goals.

It’s one of the reasons I believe content marketing must be treated like a marathon; too often we’re looking for immediate results. To be successful in our content marketing, we need to treat it as an on-going process, a long-term investment that needs our unwavering commitment.

Sprint: Why It Doesn’t Work

Content Marketing is ultimately about building long-term, trusted relationships with your audience and potential customers.

It takes time to get to know people. Not only that; there are so many people out there, finding them is half the battle.

The content you share helps people get to know you. If your content delivery is inconsistent, that one amazing piece of content you did share will be as much as someone is ever going to know about you.

But what makes them want to know more?

I like the Content Marketing Institute’s definition of content marketing:

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

To build long-lasting relationships, consistency underlies success. It’s possible to create valuable and relevant content for your audience, but without consistency you’re dead in the water.

its a marathon, not a sprint

Tackling Content Marketing with a Marathon Runner’s Mindset

Imagine staring down a 26.2-mile track. For an average runner, that’s a little over 4 hours until they reach their end goal. It takes a dedicated individual with a special mindset to get to the finish line.

So let’s look at how we can use a marathon runner’s mindset to tackle content marketing in our organizations:

Long-Term Outlook

Running 26.2 miles is going to take time to achieve – marathon runners understand that that’s ok. With the ability to see the larger goal, and to recognize that with the right amount of effort and time it’s possible to get to the finish line, it becomes easier to zero in on what needs to be done, and that alleviates the stress and pressure.

That same kind of outlook is necessary in content marketing as well. Understanding that it is a long-term investment and being ok with the time it will take to see results is huge. The pressure to achieve instantaneous success is off.

Finding the Smaller Wins within the Larger Goal

For many runners, a marathon will be the longest distance they’ve ever run. To make the journey more manageable, they look for smaller, more easily achievable distances, breaking the run down by each mile mark. The marathon becomes less about the total 26.2 miles, and more about a set of attainable distances.

We should apply the same reasoning when defining content marketing goals. What goals do you want to achieve in a 3-6-9-12-month period? It’s something you can track your progress against, and find the smaller successes as you move forward.

Self-Awareness

“Running is the road to self-awareness and reliance – you can push yourself to extremes and learn the harsh reality of your physical and mental limitation or coast quietly down a solitary path watching the earth spin beneath your feet.” – Doris Brown Heritage, first woman to run sub 5-minute indoor mile

The sense of self-awareness that runners have is something every company needs. Others cannot define what value and thought leadership you can bring to the world. Instead, careful consideration and introspection are needed to find where your company’s thought leadership is and develop it through content marketing.

Training & Balance

When a runner decides they’re going to run a marathon, they’re aware that it won’t be achievable immediately. Training is essential for building up their stamina, improving their form, and transforming their bodies with proper exercise and nutrition.

Likewise, as your company decides to include content marketing in the overall marketing plan, training is necessary to be properly equipped with knowledge, skills and the tools to achieve long-term content goals.

Every runner’s training comes with balance. Runners know what foods and exercises will improve their overall performance. They’re not going to eat or do all these things in one day, but instead spread them across their entire training program.

We need to apply balance in content marketing. For technology companies, deep technical knowledge, industry knowledge and business process can be blended together to define thought leadership.

Commitment

The mindset and physical training a runner has undergone before the starting signal sounds have prepared them to run the distance. Crossing the finish line is the crowning achievement. Everything they’ve done up to that point has shown their commitment to success.

By applying the same mental outlook and preparation when we approach content marketing, we instill the commitment to consistently follow through.

The best approach is to document your content marketing strategy. We’re always more committed to the goals we write down. In tandem, develop a content calendar. What content do you plan to deliver, and when? Include the goals you want to reach at each 3-month mark.

Let’s re-train our brains and begin to think about content marketing with a marathon runner’s mindset. The long-term investment will pay off.