For twenty years, we had a second refrigerator in the basement.
It was a piece of junk – dented on one side with a broken shelf and a small freezer. But it was a handy place to keep leftovers and extra supplies.
Eventually, though, I realized something very important: the fridge part was almost always near-empty; the freezer part was jammed tight and never quite big enough.
And so, when we moved to a new house, we didn’t take that energy-sucking dinosaur with us.
Instead, we bought a small, standalone freezer: it takes up less space, uses less electricity, has much more capacity and, since it’s basically just a frozen box, was very cheap.
One problem, though: inventory control.
The freezer opens from the top. Which means that as you load things in, it doesn’t take long before you’ve got 3.5 cubic feet of who-the-hell-can-remember.
That meant that whenever you wanted something, and even though you couldn’t be 100% certain that whatever you were searching for was even in there, you practically had to unload the entire thing.
But then I had a brilliant idea. (Actually, it was my wife Linda’s idea, but she said I could tell you that it was mine.) We made a list – a list of everything that was in the freezer.
And then we agreed on a simple rule: When you put something in, you write it down. When you take something out, you cross it off.
It’s not a perfect system (sometimes we forget to update the list), but it sure works better than trying to remember what is or isn’t in there.
Your Marketing Needs a System
In the prior century, marketing for a small professional service firm or solo was simple: networking, public speaking and the occasional sponsorship or nifty Yellow Pages ad.
That was it. And while I have no idea how people like us made a go of it back then, like it or not, your tactical choices were limited. Which means the “system” was easy to manage.
Today, we’ve got a different problem – too many moving parts. Email, podcasts, blogs, SEO, webinars, LinkedIn, video, Twitter, blah, blah, blah.
A lot of great stuff. But trying to keep track of it in your head is like trying to remember if there is one more package of pumpkin squash tortellini in the bottom of the freezer (Hint: there isn’t).
So try these two things:
Thing #1. Limit your activities.
There’s nothing wrong with dabbling in many things – who knows, you may uncover a terrific new tactic – but only commit to a handful. In fact, I recommend just four things at a time.
But four that you do, regularly, no matter what.
These are my four:
#1. This newsletter, every other week, to anyone who wants it.
#2. Emails to stay in touch. One-on-one, not automated, sent to about 250 friends/colleagues, twice a year (at least).
#3. Snail mail cards with a Marketing Tip of The Month. Sent to the same (more or less) 50 people.
#4. Coffee/Lunch (now Zoom) with one person each week. (Not the same person, that would be dumb.)
Are these the “right” things? No. They are my things. Yours would likely be different.
But the point is, even though I do plenty of other things haphazardly, I have committed to doing these four regularly.
Thing #2. Keep track.
You may think you are “marketing regularly,” but if you don’t keep track, I can assure you that there are gaps of which you are unaware.
I keep a one-page “tick sheet” on my desk at all times. It’s got 26 rows (that’s half a year, for those of you on the metric system), with my list of things in the columns across the top. I tick them off as I go and can see at a glance how I’m doing.
And by the way, it’s not perfect. I miss things here and there. But, because I track it, I know where I’m falling down and can correct as needed.
Here’s the bottom line.
Marketing is a “doing” thing.
So while it’s fine to tweak your web site and work on your logo and all that other fun stuff, marketing is fundamentally about activities that you complete, day after day after day.
It’s not hard, and it’s not complicated. But I can pretty much guarantee that until you figure out and commit to a system, it’s not happening.
- Wouldn’t “The Energy-Sucking Dinosaurs” be a great band name?
- What’s the oldest thing in your freezer? (Extra credit if it’s your ex-husband.)
- How/where do you track your marketing activity?