Want to Feel Calmer?
Learn How to Trust Your Marketing Inertia!
As we enter the typically busy holiday season, I thought I’d tackle a question relevant to all business owners: am I doing enough marketing? This comes up in my clients (and myself!) at every stage of business, and not just at the holidays. When we’re just getting started it feels like we can never do enough because all we’re doing is hustling and very few clients seem to result. Before we start the business, clearly we’re not doing enough because we’re not doing “anything.” And even when we’ve been in business a while, it can feel like we’re still not doing enough as evidence by any momentary slowdown.
The reality here is that if we’re spending energy worrying if we’re doing enough, that’s the energy we could be using to do more or recharge. I come from a long line of worriers, and yet I see it’s a waste. So let’s cut the worrying piece out. I’ve got a metaphor that should help!
Marketing vs. Sales
But first, let’s define what I mean by marketing. Marketing is not sales. If someone engages you in conversation (or emails you) asking specific questions about your business to help them learn if what they think might be a good fit is a good fit, that’s sales. In this article, we’re talking about marketing which is the phase before it. Marketing is the awareness building and reminders that you exist, that lead people to consider if what you’re offering could help them. Marketing is typically directed at groups of people and it’s less common that marketing operates on an individual basis. Marketing is an active process, i.e. it doesn’t work to throw up a web page, then cross your fingers and hope. Yet, marketing does come with an inertia all it’s own and that’s what I want to discuss today.
Inertia and Ducks
Marketing has inertia which I liken to a duck on a stream. In this analogy you are the duck, your business is the stream. Before you started your business, you were eyeing the stream. When you committed to launching your business you alighted on the stream. Every marketing effort you make is a kick of your webbed foot propelling you down the stream a bit further, a bit faster.
The Stream’s Current
Often people don’t realize the stream (their business) has its own current. It’s not a very fast current, and it’s a very difficult current to analyze or measure. This current is caused by all the subtle things you do (usually without realizing it) to orient your world around this new business. From the moment you commit to launching your business your energy shifts. You’ve probably already told someone in your life about it. You carry yourself differently. It might come up in conversation. These are impossible to measure and don’t cause a ton of movement, but it is something. It does contribute to your movement and that’s why I describe it as the stream’s current.
Kicking Your Webbed Ducky Feet
As a duck, you can get downstream faster if you kick your feet. Let’s think of the left foot as regular marketing practices and the right foot as singular bigger-effort or experimental marketing projects. A balance between both feet makes moving forward pretty easy. If one foot gets a cramp, you can still keep paddling with the other even though it gets a little awkward. Between kicks, you keep moving forward because you have the inertia of the past kicks, but also the subtle flow of the stream.
Kicks are a great analogy for this because marketing is far from actually constant, even seemingly constant efforts. For example, if you post to social media daily as part of your regular marketing practice it might seem “constant.” In actuality, it’s one post a day that anyone who comes across it will read for a minute, max, and then move on. The flow of the stream, on the other hand, is the people who know what you’re up to and the amount to which they remember it in any particular moment. A social media post will help you stay at the forefront of someone’s mind long beyond them having read the post. And this is how I know that if you stop kicking all together you’ll keep flowing with the stream. Because people still remember you and think of you in an impossible to quantify way. Your business will slow down if all you rely on is the stream’s current, but it won’t stop entirely.
The Limits of Ducky Feet
At the other end of the spectrum, if you kick frantically that will propel you down the stream faster which would mean you build your business faster. But, this is a short term solution since kicking makes you tired (and so does gobs of marketing.) So you may want to decide if you’re a ducky sprinter who rests between sprints, or if you’re a ducky marathoner who finds a slow but steady pace and keeps at it. It won’t work to sprint constantly.
Furthermore, there are limits to how fast you can go. Even if you paddle your little heart out, you’re not going to outpace a motorboat or break the sound barrier. In the same way, your business won’t happen overnight no matter how hard you work. To date, I have seen the rare outlier business launch in as fast as 3 months, and yet not truly catch their marketing stride for years if ever. Navigating this stream is an adventure comprised of trying new kicks, floating for a while, finding the fast currents and the eddies, and all of this is a process that’s on-going in the existence of a self-employed business. You can have episodes of effort, less effort, more success, less success, but you’re always going to be returning to marketing.
Becoming a Zen Duck
The point in this analogy is to know what the limits of your situation are. You can’t push yourself so hard that you defy the laws of physics. You also don’t need to beat yourself up with thoughts that you’re killing your business just because you’re not doing a lot at the moment. The stream will keep flowing. Let’s stop wasting energy on worrying and put that towards clear “kicks” of marketing instead!
Originally published at https://www.maggiekarshner.com on November 26, 2019.