How Does Your Garden Grow?

(Listen to this post, here.)

Do you grow vegetables in your backyard?

Me too.

After all, nothing quite compares to the taste of a freshly picked tomato, especially when its total value is in the seven-dollar range, thanks to the cost of containers, soil, fertilizer, compost, and the plants themselves.

Even so, it’s a fun activity that I look forward to every year.

However, we do struggle with one problem: consistent watering. You want to water them every day, ideally in the early morning before the sun gets too hot.

Easier said than done…

Sometimes we forget.

Sometimes we are traveling.

Sometimes somebody goes off on an early morning bike ride, leaving her husband Michael to take care of things even though he has an important Zoom call scheduled. (Of course, I am speaking hypothetically here.)

And so this year, I am following in the vegetable-growing footsteps of my eldest child, Evan, who told me recently about the automated watering system he set up at his house.

Thanks to the MIXC Greenhouse Micro Drip Irrigation Kit – with adjustable nozzle emitters and sprinkler barbed fittings – together with a “sunrise-activated timer,” I now have a completely automated system for watering our vegetable garden.

The sun comes up, the system turns on, the watering gets done.

But wait a second. Is this the perfect amount of water, delivered at the perfect time of day, occurring at the perfect interval?

I really have no idea. I do know one thing, however … it doesn’t matter.

Regular watering is what counts the most.

And so while I’m sure we could improve our approach by digging in (haha!) further into the optimal watering scenario based on our soil, type of plants, climate, etc., the fact is, as long as we keep watering regularly, we will get our fair share of vegetables.

Gardening is not an exact science – and neither is your marketing.

Yes, you need to do some fundamental things more or less correctly. But if you don’t “water your marketing garden” regularly, it’s all for naught (why am I suddenly talking like Benjamin Franklin?).

So try this…

Develop an approach.

I always ask prospective clients to tell me where their own clients come from. The answer is always the same: “Word of mouth and referrals.”

No surprises there; few small professional service providers do any real advertising.

But when I follow-up and ask, “Okay, but what do you do to make word of mouth and referrals happen?”, I get a lot of blank stares and radio silence.

That’s a problem. You don’t plant tomato plants and just hope that the vegetables magically appear (I know it’s a fruit, Mr. Smarty-pants). You take action, on a regular basis, to make it happen.

Same with your marketing. You need a plan and you need a schedule.

Yes, some tactics are more effective than others. But if you don’t have a clearly laid out approach that you tend to regularly, it’s game over.

Your plants need watering. Today. Do something – you can fine-tune later.

Track your actions.

Speaking of fine-tuning, you can’t make adjustments if you don’t know what you are doing. (Hint: If you are not writing it down, somewhere in some form, you don’t know what you are doing.)

It need not be fancy – I use a paper tick sheet that I keep on my desk – but it needs to be written down.

Added benefit: When you track your actions, you are much more likely to stick to the plan. As with growing vegetables, there may be weeks where nothing seems to be happening.

The act of tracking gives you some positive reinforcement – you can’t control when the clients arrive; you can control your own actions.


I’ve got four things that I do regularly in the name of marketing: individual check-in emails to my “house list;” monthly snail mail cards that I send to close contacts; regular coffee and lunch dates; this newsletter.

But … I try new things.

Lately, I’ve been posting short videos with simple marketing tips on LinkedIn. Of course, they are fabulous. But are they worth doing? Too soon to tell.

You, too, will benefit by experimenting:

I know a marketing consultant who’s trying text messaging as a tool. I have a friend who launched a “TV show” on Facebook. I know a doctor who, God help us, is posting videos on TikTok.

None of this costs very much and even if it turns out to be a waste of time, you’ll learn something new.

Best case, you’ll open up an entirely new approach (that’s how I got started 20 years ago with email newsletters).

Here’s the bottom line.

When it comes to professional services marketing, everybody wants to know the “right” answer.

Far fewer people are interested in thinking through what it takes to get it done.

Knowing what to do is fine. But nothing happens until you open the spigot.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Is your nozzle emitter adjustable? (Don’t send pictures.)
  2. What’s your favorite vegetable (ketchup doesn’t count)?
  3. How do you keep your marketing activities on track?

Share your answers below…

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5 thoughts on “How Does Your Garden Grow?

  1. Daryl Gerke

    Your vegetable analogy reminds me of the story of the old farmer responding to the young ag extension agent. “Son,” he said, “I don’t farm half as good as I know how.” (From growing up in Nebraska…)

    Now living in Arizona, we “drip irrigate” our plants — just like “drip marketing” with newsletters (which used for years.) To keep things on track, we put the plants on a timer. BTW some nozzles even have adjustable emitters — but try not to picture that.

    Favorite vegetable would be fresh sweet corn – that Nebraska legacy again.

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      She was great. Stood there singing with a guitar over her should for an hour – never sat down, never even took a drink of water. And she had had Covid the month before!

  2. Bill Honnold

    I was gifted with a couple of “Repeat Business” vegetables this year. Two grape tomato plants and two eggplants. They must have sprouted from seeds laying dormant in the ground from previous yearS. We call them “volunteers”.

    Anyway, although I didn’t plant them, I still had to water and fertilize them so they would produce vegetables.

    Similarly, the relationships with repeat customers needs to be nurtured or they will stop producing business.

    There are so many parallels between gardening and life. That’s why gardening is such a fertile (couldn’t resist) source of stories.


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