When we first moved to the east coast, merely walking on the beach was enough to keep everyone in my family entertained. Now, three years later…. a walk along the beach needs some "spicing" up to keep my teen aged children entertained and engaged. So, last Saturday when we went to the beach, my athletic son created a new "game" of follow the leader.
The game was simple enough… you had to follow the leader and walk in his/her footsteps left in the sand. Simple, right?
First, allow me to frame this experience for you. My oldest son, who was began the game as "leader", is a three sport varsity athlete at his rather large high school. There isn’t an OUNCE of fat on this kid and his athleticism is incredible. This is our "leader" who leaps and twists like a gazelle being pursued by a cheetah on the Serengeti plain.
Following my son, the "cheetah" in this scenario, is my 20 year old daughter. During her high school tenure, she too was a three sport varsity athlete. Two years of devotion to higher learning has only affected her stamina, not her ability. She may have tired more quickly than my oldest son, and was able to kept up with him for a significant stretch of sand.
Next is my 13 year old son who has eschewed sports in any way shape or form, I suspect because of the LONG shadow his older brother casts on the athletic fields of competition. Anyhow, as you may suspect, the youngest was keeping me company in the rear of the procession. At least I could keep up with him.
Needless to say, the two athletes quickly left me behind and I had a moment of clarity. I realized that I couldn’t keep up and that I had to choose whether I would watch the "dance" my son and daughter were performing or I could try to walk in their footstapes. I could not do both. I couldn’t watch what acts of grace and athleticism my son and daughter were performing AND match my feet to theirs in the sand. I had to choose and as the two of them got further ahead, it became more and more difficult to determine what action had caused any particular footprint in the sand.
I tried both methods. I tried matching my feet to his footsteps, but when he began twirling and spinning, all he left was chunks of churned sand. Then I tried watching his movements, but he was way too far ahead by that time and way to gifted athletically for me to keep up. My daughter was enjoying the game, but I definitely wasn’t. I needed an easier version… a dummy’s version if you will.
As I watched my two older children twist, turn and twirl with gless… I saw my 13 year old plodding ahead of me. He wasn’t jumping… he wasn’t twirling. If he just plodded along, he could keep the other two within a reasonable distance. He needed an easier version as well.
As this unfolded before me, I realized the implication for my business… and possibly your business as well.
My son’s game reminded me of most of the "marketing instruction" programs I’ve seen. Many are offered by well meaning people who have a natural "gift" for marketing. These marketing experts are by nature social and gregarious creatures. For people like that, marketing comes "naturally". If you can keep up… well, then the game is fun. The results come quickly and you enjoy the game.
However, I’ve noticed that my target clients aren’t gifted when it comes to marketing. Many of my clients have tried to market their businesses for YEARS without success. I remember my first few sessions with one client. I spent three weeks listening to him assure me that he had done EVERYTHING under the sun to market his practice. In a nutshell, marketing wasn’t fun for him, so he would hop from one marketing tactic to another… anxiously anticipating the one that would magically make the phone ring. The problem: He didn’t pursue any of the "tactics" long enough to see results.
We’ve since spent most of 2007 preparing for the launch of his marketing campaign in 2008. He is pleasantly surprised at the growth of his business…. thanks in no small part to the hard work he’s done. Marketing still isn’t "easy" or fun for him… but it is now productive.
Just as a personal trainer can instruct you on the proper "form" in the gym so that your work outs are most effective, a marketing coach can help make marketing your business fun as well.