Dancing the Marketing 4-Step

“It smells like burning metal.”

I haven’t done any research, but I’m pretty sure that this statement is not among the top three things you’d hope to hear from your wife Linda, regarding the microwave oven in your kitchen.

I promised to give it a look when I got home that night.

And so I did – not that I had even the vaguest clue what I was looking for.

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And yet, as an American male, I felt a certain obligation to at least open the door and gaze intently inside. You know, the way you do when your car starts making funny noises and you pop the hood to have a look, hoping that “low on wiper fluid” (the sum total of your car diagnostic wisdom) is somehow the cause.

Anyway, Linda called the appliance place and they said that a 20-year-old microwave was well past its useful life and not worth fixing. And so a couple of days later, we went shopping.

An hour after that, a new microwave was in hand.

Of course, that’s the easy part. Any fool can buy a microwave oven. The trick is in hanging it above the range, and in such a way that it doesn’t come crashing down one morning while you’re trying to heat up the oatmeal your doctor keeps telling you to eat.

And so I got to work. Two hours later and in what I now consider a burning-bush-caliber miracle, I was successful. The bracket fit securely to the wall, the holes I drilled lined up and, with the help of several family members, we hoisted it up and sent it off on its maiden voyage (a cup of tea).

Was I excited? No.

I was elated … jubilant … atingle! Linda accused me of “prancing around the kitchen” and my teenage children rolled their eyes so many times I feared for their long term vision.

The next morning I was still in a state of quasi euphoria. It just felt good to have completed something so important (for the two days we had no microwave, I felt like I was living off the land) and a bit out of my admittedly unimpressive technical comfort zone.

The key word in the preceding sentence is “completed.”

Completion brings with it an unmistakable energy that propels you happily into the next activity. Without it, things can be a slog. (tweet this)

Guess what? It applies to your solo professional marketing just as much as it applies to your kitchen. Without completion, marketing can be a slog.

And that, I believe, is what makes 21st century marketing so frustrating for so many solos: There are too many choices. (tweet this)

Think about it. 15 years ago, you put an ad in the local paper, attended a monthly networking dinner, sponsored the boy scouts and you were done. If you were really ambitious, maybe you mailed out a quarterly newsletter.

After all, there just weren’t that many reasonable options for the solo professional.

Today, the options are nearly endless and the time frame and frequency required is theoretically infinite.

Completion?! How can you complete your marketing when you know you can always get involved in one more activity?

You can’t. At least not if you view it that way.

What I recommend instead is a 4-step program. Pick four marketing activities that you will do regularly and well. And then do them. When you’ve accomplished those four, you’ll feel that sense of completion (and all the benefits that go with it).

Here are mine (find four that work for you):

  • One face-to-face meeting per week (coffee, lunch, etc.).
  • 100 snail mail cards sent to 100 people each month with a “solo professional marketing tip.” (I use and recommend Send Out Cards; this is my affiliate link.)
  • Emails sent regularly to about 350 friends and colleagues a few times a year. Just to say hello and stay in touch.
  • This newsletter, every other week, to any human or land-based mammal who wants one.

Do I tweet? Sure. LinkedIn? Regularly. Attend networking meetings, post on blogs, submit articles I’ve written to other sources, send birthday cards? Yes, yes, yes, tell me your birthday and I’ll send you one.

But – and this is the key – the four tasks in my 4-step program are the only ones I worry about. Everything else is an optional, nice-to-have.

The result? A sense of completion.

I can shut my computer off at night knowing I’ve done my marketing, and without ever wondering what else, in addition, I could have done.

Prancing optional.

Intrigued? As you should be. Consider prancing on over to my webinar – Beyond Social Media – at the end of the month, in which we discuss these things in detail. Info here.

15 thoughts on “Dancing the Marketing 4-Step

  1. Margy Rydzynski

    So, my birthday is July 31. I was born in 1954 and, yikes!, I’ll be turning 60 next year. My address is Margy Rydzynski, 12 Whittemore Street, Arlington, MA, 02474.

    Now, what’s yours? You deserve a birthday card too!

    If I may be so bold, allow me to share with you the criteria I use to select the products and services I recommend and teach. There’s an interesting story behind it, one that’s informed my life ever since: http://brave-new-web.com/2013/04/30/the-staircase-test/. Enjoy, if you have a mind to.

    By the way, I love your newsletters! Please keep them coming.

    best, Margy Rydzynski

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Hi Margy!

      And thanks for your birthday info; your card will arrive in three months or so. And funny about your year of birth – I was born in 1960 and will turning 54 this year, so we are sort of birthday opposites!

      And that’s a great story (love the picture especially!).

  2. David

    >> 100 snail mail cards sent to 100 people each month with a “solo professional marketing tip.” <<

    So, then, are these an Elite 100 who get the honor each month? Or, are they an entirely fresh and unduplicative century? Or, some hybrid of the two approaches.

    BTW, I have recently had occasion to become a student and client of a solo professional whose newsletter, service bundling, and other features feel as though they might have your flipper points on them. So, maintaining anonymity, does your newsletter or other services reach someone in ZIP Code 02649, and if so, what profession?

    Best regards, David

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Hi David,
      And yes, that’s a great way to put it – the Elite 100. So everybody who wants the newsletter gets it. And a subgroup of that (350) are people I deliberately keep in touch with via email. And a subgroup of that is the Elite 100. This way I can treat different people differently based on the very subjective label of “importance,” recategorizing people on a regular basis.

      And I have no idea on your 02649 person but you never know!

    1. David

      Jon —

      I suppose you would also object to making tea in a
      coffee maker ?

      Anyway, perhaps Michael meant only that he heated
      the water for tea in the microwave oven and then
      brewed the tea, in a teabag or tea ball, on the counter.

    2. Michael Katz Post author

      Hello Jon!
      And despite David’s admirable attempt to rescue me (thank you), I do, in fact, make tea in the microwave, mostly just to annoy my friends like you in the UK. I also call football soccer, spell cheque incorrectly and on purpose, and drive on the wrong side of the road. (I’m still annoyed by the Stamp Act.)

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Send me a lot of money, Edgar. Seriously, I’ve thought about turning this into a product. You know, a monthly bit of inspiration! Have not gotten around to making that happen yet.

      But given our tenure together, I’d be happy to add you to the list! Even with that extra postage across the Pond. Shoot me an email and send me your mailing address.

  3. Nancy

    Hi Michael,

    Just came across your site while trying to find info on email newsletter creation. You are spot on when you say we have too many choices. I’m tired of feeling guilty for not doing enough, until I realized the bar kept rising. As in, “Sure you can do this.” “It will only take a minute” (it doesn’t), “Would you be willing to….,” and before you know it, you’ve in overwhelm. I am choosing to take my life back, even if it means not being as rich, affluent, or whatever as I’d like.

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Take it back Nancy! And don’t concede the need to trade off affluence in the process. Much of what we do in the name of “marketing” is time-wasting busy work. Find the few things that work for you, do them well, and you’ll see better results than doing lots of things poorly and/or irregularly.

      Keep us posted and all the best,

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