Once again, the birds have tricked me.
We have been living in this house for three years, and this is the third consecutive September in which they have faked me out in precisely the same way.
Here’s how it goes…
All summer long, I fill the birdfeeder in our back yard.
Our arrangement is simple, if unspoken: They eat for free and I get to look at them all I want. It’s like being a rock star with a much younger wife.
Other than that, we live our separate lives and more or less leave each other alone.
But then, beginning in early August, the consumption rate starts to rise. Slowly at first, but after a week or two, I can barely keep up as dozens of birds arrive, vying for space at the feeder, all day long.
So I start buying big bags and stocking up, to make sure I don’t run out.
And then, just as I’m beginning to think that Alfred Hitchcock himself is about to show up at my front door, it stops.
Not fades to a graceful trailing off, either. I’m talking shut-the-faucet-off, on-a-dime, who-stole-all-the birds, stops. In one day.
I don’t know why it works that way in this house, but I can tell you this: From now until next April, there won’t be a single bird at my feeder, leaving me with 15 pounds of seed in the garage and no option but to sit on it until spring.
Of course, I should know better by now. I should recognize this pattern and start cutting back on the seed-buying in late summer.
But every year, when my yard is overrun with birds, I forget and assume it will go on like this forever.
Your Workflow Is Like a Flock of Birds
When you work as a solo or small professional service firm, it’s hard to predict the peaks and valleys of your own busyness.
The work arrives mostly at random, through word of mouth and referral. And, since it’s just you and maybe a handful of others, just a couple of additional projects can suddenly make you very, very busy.
That’s great news, of course. The work is happening, the money is flowing, life is good.
And you, my birdfeeder-filling friend, make the same, erroneous assumption I make every August: You believe that things will go on like this forever.
So you stop marketing.
You no longer attend networking events (virtual or otherwise).
You stop connecting with colleagues or even replying to nonessential emails.
You keep pushing your newsletter to the back of the line.
And then, one day, without warning and for no apparent reason, the birds stop showing up.
It’s hard to know why, they just do. And since you haven’t been marketing for months, it’s going to take a lot of time and effort to get things moving again.
Never Stop Marketing
For a solo or small firm, marketing is like exercise: It doesn’t take a tremendous amount of time or effort, but you have to keep doing it, even when – especially when – it seems like you don’t need to.
And, as with exercise, it’s way easier and faster to get out of shape than to get in. Turning things back on is hard.
So, you have two options:
Assume that when you are busy it will last forever and take your foot off the marketing gas.
Assume that the peaks are always followed by valleys and stay active and visible.
Let me know if you want to buy some slightly handled bird seed.
- Have you ever sat on something until spring? Explain.
- Do you have a birdfeeder at your house?
- What marketing activity do you keep doing, no matter what?