What does accountability mean to you? I don’t like the word. It reminds me of zero-value monthly reports that I had to create in a previous life. It reminds me of tick-box exercises that used to pass the time in old corporate jobs.
Yet there was something about having a fearful taskmaster to keep me on track and delivering that I will begrudgingly admit I miss. While I don’t wish back to be back in that space, I need to look around for different forms of accountability.
Hiring is a coach or mentor is ideal but if you aren’t in the right place for that, or just can’t afford it then it’s got to come from somewhere — otherwise, you might need to go back to a traditional role, if they still exist.
What about this for an idea? You could use your marketing channels to build accountability into your schedule and at the same time, create organic content for your brand. If you see marketing as sharing the story of your business, then this kind of journey could make great episodes.
Here’s a little story of one of my accountability tactics.
I’m a writer who is transitioning from playwriting and screenwriting to short story and novel writing. I don’t believe that writers should sit on one genre if they don’t want to. I can digest mountains of books on short stories, or I can join a group, but nothing is going to replace the value of getting on and writing. It would be nice to have a community and great to have the knowledge that comes from reading everything, but crafting is the most critical factor.
I’d been thinking about short stories for a good six months, and my ‘dream to-do’ list was mounting by the day. I needed some accountability, and I needed it fast. So I declared to my humble subscriber list that I would be publishing a short story each week for the next year.
Bang, my dream is transferred to an accountable action just by publishing a teeny sentence in my weekly newsletter. And now I’m blogging about it. Accountability has just doubled.
The stakes have risen because now if I don’t deliver, I’m going to feel embarrassed and incapable of sticking to a plan, in short, a public failure. Tough love, I know, but it’s time.
Will my subscribers be holding me to account? Hell no, of course, they won’t, they probably don’t even remember the sentence. It’s an invisible cloak of accountability, but the important thing is that I’ve created in my head a framework that tells me I must deliver, or reveal myself as a fraudster. I am now accountable.
And this week I was grateful for that accountability action because my short story was running late and what I probably would have otherwise overlooked has become an immovable objective in my to-do list.
Hello mean taskmaster!
To be taken seriously in your art, you need to be accountable, especially in this post-truth, digital age. You don’t have to be perfect, ugh, no-one wants that, but there’s integrity in being accountable, and that holds a considerable currency.
But of equal value here are the marketing opportunities that come with sharing your story in all of its human shades. Fears, vulnerabilities, hardships and feats add layers of texture to your brand.
Give your audience a hero’s journey; guide us through the night of the soul and out the other end again. You’ll keep yourself honest and inspire others along the way. That’s what we all want.
Here are four ideas for using marketing channels to stay accountable.
1. Email Subscriber List
I don’t mean creating a specific newsletter to declare your new intentions. Nobody cares! Your newsletter needs to be helpful to your subscribers. Just drop in a line at the end of your email, no big deal.
‘by the way, I’m trying out a new programme of writing from now on, it’s going to be hard, but I hope you’ll join me on the journey.’
You haven’t made the whole email about you have, but you’ve staked a claim in your accountability.
Now you’ve said it you must deliver, or create a post about how and why you’ve failed on your goal. Owch. Don’t want to do that.
I don’t take this approach with all ideas just ones that won’t go away, creators you know what I mean.
2. Social Media Post
I often use Twitter to declare my intentions and goals. Is anyone listening? Hell no but in the stages of an idea to action, this is a level 3 commitment. First is the ideation, second is writing it down and the third step, if you’re still on board with it is making your declaration to the world.
Will they pull you up if you don’t make it? Nope, they won’t, but they are watching and listening in the way that social media does and silently waiting for you to fail or succeed. Whatever story you tell yourself to get the job done will work.
I talk a lot about the emotional impact that you aim for in your content; this will be inspiration amongst other things, and that is a valuable message to spread.
3. Create a blog or story about it.
Now, this is in danger of being all about you, but you can spin it so that you’re sharing useful tips about the journey you and then it’s a great story. Why? Because it’s revealing your willingness to go on a quest, you’ve risked public failure, and you’ve shown your vulnerabilities.
We love seeing humans’ triumph, and it’s all the more meaningful when it includes a journey or adventure.
Set the blog up with your story as an intro and follow it up with the steps you are taking to see your mission through.
Someone out there will be on a similar journey to you. Think of that person as your audience and create your offering.
4. Serialise it.
On the back of point 3, why not serialise it? I love an episodic content opportunity.
‘The first hurdle on my big journey.’
‘The first half.’
‘The lessons I’m learning on the way.’
Any new journey has a beginning, middle and an end — it’s a story! And you must’ve learned something from beginning to end that has changed your view of yourself or the world?
Marketing is about creating stories to make sense of our world through your solution. You could create endless stories like this about your trials and tribulations., it would mean high levels of learning, but that’s a good thing.
See each goal as a new series, each step its blog and your channels as your accountability partners. Will you pass or will you fail? Who knows, but if you don’t hold yourself accountable and step out on the road, you’ll never find out, and you’ll never be able to produce an incredible story about it.
5. Call out for an actual accountability buddy on your marketing channels.
You’ve probably got a few people who are on a similar journey to you across your channels. Put a call out for an actual human accountability buddy.
You get to bring someone closer to your network, and you double your audience through sharing your combined journey across both of your networks?
But with this one make sue you choose someone who is on a similar journey to your own. Like choosing a collaborator it requires a matching of energy.
Helpful? Give it a go. Without accountability, you’re at risk of drifting from one project to another. Trust me; I’ve been there.