A Convenient Truth

“Climate is what we expect; weather is what we get.”
– Mark Twain

I’ve lived in the frigid Northeast my entire life – the first eighteen years on Long Island, three more in Montreal, and everything since in Massachusetts. I don’t know why, since as far back as I can remember, I’ve always hated the cold.

But all that changed abruptly in 2003. That was when I began what is now a family tradition of building an ice skating rink in our front yard. A sixty foot long, thirty foot wide, frozen sheet of winter fun, just steps from our front door. Today, I wait for the cold, instead of dreading it.

I’m now in my fourth season, and I’ve pretty much got all the tools, materials and procedures in place: A big pile of ten foot long 2x10s, extra long hoses, all weather screws, wooden stakes, a plastic liner, three children (optional) and about 7500 gallons of water.

We begin setting it up the week after Thanksgiving, and within a few days, we’re skating away.

Well, theoretically. This season of course, it’s been unseasonably warm, and I only began filling the rink two days ago – the first time the thermometer stayed below freezing for a couple of days and nights in a row.

It struck me the other day, that marketing and promoting your business has much in common with building a skating rink in your yard (stay with me).

Both require tools, materials and procedures. Both are also entirely dependent on one very big factor that is completely out of your control. In the case of a rink, it’s cold weather. In the case of marketing and promotion, it’s the readiness of prospective clients to buy what you’re selling.

Here’s what I mean. You can do everything perfectly right to attract the clients you want: the right offer, the right creative, the right copy, the right medium, the right target audience… everything. But even then, your tactics only work on the people who are ready (or near ready) to buy. Telling me about the unparalleled wonderfulness of your executive recruiting firm, for example, is a complete waste of time and money if I just filled my only open position yesterday.

The problem of course, for any marketer, is that at any given time, most of the people who receive your message — whether via newspaper ad, cold call, direct mail, or whatever – are not in a buying mode. Maybe they were last month, and maybe they will be next month, but today, only a handful are open to your offer – no matter how compelling or well-executed it may be.

Which is reason #843 (I’ve lost count at this point) why I love E-Newsletters. With an E-Newsletter (or any ongoing communication to a consistent group of people), we take timing out of the mix. Because I have permission to send this to subscribers month after month after month, I don’t need (or, frankly, want) all of them to contact me today. A few today, a few next month, a few the month after… whenever they’re ready, I’m ready.

Most advertising programs, by contrast, are the equivalent of building and attempting to use an ice rink on a particular day: If Mother Nature cooperates (i.e if the client need is there), you’re skating away. But if she doesn’t, well, you just spent a lot of time and money on a very large kiddie pool.

Bottom Line. Most days, most people don’t need what you’re selling, plain and simple. Find a way to stay in touch ongoing with your prospective clients, however – whether in the form of an E-Newsletter or something else – and they’ll stick with you until the ice has frozen.

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