How to Tackle Your First 100 Days

The first 100 days of a new President’s administration is generally seen as crucial to its ultimate success. This period is ripe with opportunity, as the newly inaugurated President typically benefits from a “honeymoon” period, with higher-than-average public approval ratings and bipartisan reserves of goodwill that can lead to key legislative wins.

Especially in times of crisis, the first 100 days are seen as a bellwether of an administration’s ability to enact change. As the nation battled the Great Depression in 1933, a freshly inaugurated FDR took 15 major actions in service of his signature “New Deal” program, including passage of the Emergency Banking Act and the introduction of his signature “fireside chats.” JFK ordered the ill-fated Bay of Pigs attacks within his first three months, Ronald Reagan secured the release of the U.S. hostages held in Iran (on day one!), and Barack Obama shepherded the massive $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through Congress before his first month was out. With a historic coronavirus crisis still looming, President Biden has pledged to deliver 100 million vaccines into the arms of Americans within his first 100 days, among other bold initiatives.

But it’s also true that the first 100 days, a period lasting just over three months, establishes the tone and expectations for the new Administration’s competency and ability to function, and provides the nation with its first clear-eyed view of the President’s overall effectiveness as a leader. If an administration begins its term hampered by inaction, internal discord, and dysfunction, it is unlikely to accomplish much of anything in its first few months, let alone over the course of a four-year term.

The first 100 days of a new administration demands bold leadership, big ideas, and strong, confident action. There are lessons to be learned for marketers, as well.

We often focus on setting annual targets or objectives for our business or marketing program. But think back to January 2020—of all the ambitious goals you set back then, how many did you actually accomplish, post-COVID? Even in a “normal” year, the annual goal-setting cycle is useful from a strategic perspective, but is usually less effective as a tactical tool.

In contrast, working to a 90- or 100-day timeframe strikes the perfect balance between long-term, strategic goals, and shorter-term, practical milestones. A week or a month is too short. It is too easy to become derailed when your focus shifts to dousing “urgent” day-to-day fires. At the same time, too much can change over the course of a year – in your market, with your competition, and with economic and business conditions beyond your control. An effective strategic plan must be both forward-thinking and flexible enough to pivot on a dime.

That’s why a 100-day (or 90-day) plan can work so well.

When setting your content marketing goals, break your yearly calendar up into quarterly increments. Start by focusing on your key content pillars – those products, topics, or themes you want to highlight in the upcoming quarter. Then decide on the mix of content you’d like to utilize to support these themes: A blog series? Earned media? Placed byline articles? White papers or eBooks? Customer success stories and case studies?

Lastly, schedule your content releases in two-week “sprints,” until you have the entire quarter covered. Lay it out visually on a thirteen-week calendar and double-check to ensure all the key content pillars are covered. Make sure you support your flagship assets (like white papers, eBooks, and trend reports) with a consistent campaign of promotion and repurposing through a variety of channels and media (e.g., blog posts, bylined articles, social media, podcasts, videos, and earned media).

By establishing the groundwork in your first 100 days, you’ll set the tone for a solid and successful content marketing program. With some foresight and planning, these early wins will carry you through the entire year, while providing enough flexibility to help you manage any challenge that comes your way.

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