Like you, I sometimes have trouble remembering why we decided to have children at all, let alone three in a row.
I know it probably had something to do with creating a family; wanting something bigger than just my wife and me; experiencing the joys of parenting; etc.
And yet as I sit here today, almost exactly 20 years since the die was cast, there’s only one thing I recall as having gone into my decision to go ahead and procreate: Tech support.
Hang on, let me explain…
Back in the early nineties, computers were just beginning to become part of our everyday lives. Sure, they’d been behind the scenes in the bank and the phone company for years, but few business people – and even fewer people at home – had a computer sitting on their desk.
In fact, back then, you needed to be reasonably tech-savvy just to drive one:
You needed at least a working knowledge of DOS. You needed to know how to type a URL correctly (beginning usually, but not always, with http://). You needed a briefcase containing extra wires and floppy disks and a notebook filled with arcane instructions for what to do in different situations.
In my case, and since I was an early adopter of all this online stuff, the job of tech support at home fell to me. Unfortunately, and while I knew enough to make things work (usually), it was not without a lot of pain and suffering along the way.
And so when my wife Linda began talking about “starting a family,” it occurred to me that this next generation would naturally and easily be much more technically capable than I. I figured that by the time the oldest hit ten, I’d be happily out of the tech support business for good.
And so procreate we did.
Sadly, and as you’ve probably already guessed, nearly 20 years later I’m still the guy responsible for all things technical at home. Because while it’s true that my three teenagers are each immensely fluent and at ease in the world of computers and the Internet, not one of them has even the slightest idea how it all works.
I assumed the kids would be tech savvy.
They, however, jumped right over the tech part and simply became savvy – people who ignore the technology and instead think about whatever it is they want to accomplish.
In this regard, it seems to me that today’s mid-life professionals (yes, I’m talking about you and me) could learn a little something from “Generation Whatever-Letter-We’re-Up-To.”
What I mean is that as a group, we’re too focused on the technology itself – the never-ending stream of services, apps and platforms – and not enough on whatever it is we’re trying to accomplish in the marketing of our respective businesses.
(Go ahead, read that last sentence again. It’s a good one and it took me a while to write.)
With that in mind, I offer three suggestions:
- Don’t do things you don’t understand.
I’m not for or against social media – any more than I’m for or against heavy machinery.
But just as you wouldn’t rent a backhoe without a clear purpose in mind (regardless of whether or not your neighbors were doing so), if you can’t string together a coherent sentence or two explaining what you hope to accomplish by investing time and energy in the latest technology, you’re in danger of confusing activity with results.
Either figure out what the goal is and how this shiny new thing is going to help, or leave it alone until you do.
- Don’t do things you hate doing.
I love writing, drinking coffee and e-mail. That’s why my marketing plan consists of writing (newsletters), drinking coffee (regular, face-to-face meetings with colleagues) and e-mail (keeping in touch with my network electronically).
It’s not work – it’s fun. I do it regularly because I like to do it (I’d do it whether it helped my business or not).
If you hate your marketing, on the other hand, it’s going to sap your energy and you’re not going to do it – at least not well. So either find things you like or hire other people to do the marketing for you.
- Don’t do too many things.
The problem with marketing in the 21st century is that there are too many options. As a result, many professionals dabble in a little bit of everything out of concern for somehow missing an opportunity.
I’ve got a better idea. Pick three things and do them well (and all the time).
You don’t use every piece of equipment in the gym to stay in shape and you don’t need every marketing tool on the planet to stay visible as a likeable expert.
You need a simple, repeatable, effective approach that won’t take over your life. And whether the things you choose are high tech, low tech or no tech, it doesn’t really matter – so long as you do them well and you do them religiously.
Here’s the bottom line. When it comes to the marketing of your business, you don’t get points for participation – you get points for results.
So while it’s fine to try your hand at all kinds of new and cutting edge approaches, the technology itself isn’t the point.
Find three things you understand and enjoy and just keep doing them.
Now if you’ll excuse me, the printer isn’t working again and my family has begun circling my desk.