As some of you will know, Dom at tent ran the Great North Run at the weekend. It struck me recently that the approach to undertaking something like the Great North Run is a bit like the one we all need to take to promoting our businesses.
I’ve identified 5 key elements which apply to both running and marketing and are worth bearing in mind as you start the week!
1. Begin with the end in mind
Dom wanted to finish the run in under 2 hours. That was the end he had in mind. Oh and not injure himself! So in order to do this he had to take his training seriously, be committed, step up his fitness levels and also really work on all those boring things like stretching and resting.
When we are approaching a marketing campaign, we need to know what we are trying to achieve. It’s so important for two reasons; one, how will you know you’re there if you don’t know where you’re heading? and two, it will influence the resources and activity required. For example, a goal of changing people’s perception of your company and one of increasing online sales by 20% will need two very different approaches.
2. Be realistic but be ambitious
For Dom being realistic is that he’s not Mo Farah, he’s a fairly fit forty something with a business to run so he can’t be out their training every day. However, the last time he ran the GNR in 2006, his time was around the 2 hours 20 minutes mark. So by setting himself a goal of completing in under 2 hours he was being ambitious, but realistic in terms of his ability and the time he had to put to training. (In the end he ran it in 1 hour and 51 minutes. Whoot.)
In marketing, we often make life hard for ourselves by being way too ambitious and then falling at the first hurdle. This can be very demotivating. Similarly, if we don’t set our sights high enough, we aren’t pushing hard enough and we don’t get the results we want and need. Check in with yourself and your business about what’s realistic but also be ambitious for yourself.
3. Make a plan
If you don’t have a plan you just have an idea or a dream of what you want to happen. A plan doesn’t have to be a 30 page strategy with charts and projections but you do have to plan out the detail of what you’re going to do to work towards that goal you’ve just set. For Dom this bit was easy, there are umpteen running plans online for people attempting a half marathon, you just have to pick one.
For you and a specific business goal you have, you’re not going to be as lucky. So you’ll need to get it down on paper, what you’re trying to achieve and the steps and deadlines you need to take to get there. Fail to prepare and prepare to fail as they say! There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that clear, written goals are achieved far more often that the ones we just hold in our heads.
4. If you go off course, adjust your sails
The best laid plans of mice, men and runners and all that… Even with a plan, you might not stick to it and often for reasons out of your control. For Dom this was two bouts of viral illness and a holiday abroad which turned out to be too hot to train in. This meant of his original 12 week plan he actually only trained on 7. So he then had to adjust that plan to make sure he could still achieve his goal.
For you, going off course could be issues with staff, an unforeseen workload which doesn’t leave you enough time to carry out your marketing to schedule or unexpected competitor activity. Sometimes you’ll be the one getting in your own way. Whatever happens you’ll need to adjust your sails and keep going.
5. Take setbacks in your stride
When things go wrong, it’s easy to just give up. Or at least it seems easy at the time. You’ll tell yourself the original goal can’t be reached. That you can’t catch up on the time and opportunities that you’ve missed. I wonder how many people injured themselves when training for the Great North Run? Or who didn’t do as much training as they wanted? But who went ahead and run anyway? How many more didn’t quite get the time they wanted but still felt a great sense of achievement?
Things will go wrong when you’re marketing your business. It’s not all going to go according to the plan. The important thing is to keep going. Sure you don’t want to throw good money after bad. But often people do give up far too easily. They send one email newsletter which doesn’t achieve the results they want and they get disheartened. They spend time coming up with a creative mailer to a potential client but they still don’t get the meeting. Part of it is giving things enough time to work. part of it is admitting when you’re flogging a dead horse and moving on.
So you see! Marketing really is like running 😉 And even if like me you can’t even run for a bus I hope you will find the above 5 points useful when working on your marketing this week!