Get Off the Marketing Couch

(Listen to this post, here.)

I got a big surprise when I went to my son Jonathan’s college graduation last month: I had to wear pants.

Now don’t get me wrong; I wear pants as much as the next guy. But what I have not done in a long time is wear dress pants.

That’s because thanks to the pandemic, I have not been invited to speak at a conference or company offsite in more than two years (at least I hope that’s the reason).

Plus, even though I am again attending in-person networking events, I have pretty much decided that as the resident “quirky marketing guy,” I’m on brand with jeans, shoes, and a nice shirt.

But a child’s college graduation? Well, I gave it some careful thought and my wife, Linda, told me that when I was done carefully thinking, I would be putting on dress pants.

So, I went to my closet to take a look…

Uh oh. All five of my nice pants – which had been sitting untouched on hangers all this time – had developed large, ugly, end-zone-designating-worthy lines at about thigh height.

Of course, none of this happened overnight.  One week, one month, probably even six months sitting on a hanger and there would not have been a problem.

But two-and-a-half years? All those consecutive days of dress pant inactivity had morphed into an extreme fashion don’t.

Long periods of marketing inaction can lead to problems for your business as well (you knew I’d get here eventually).

You Need to Remain Visible

I live by a very simple marketing mantra:

“Stay in front of the people you know, over and over again,
in a way that positions you as a likeable expert.

Does it represent all there is to know about marketing a small professional service business? No. But it’s a good 85%. Live up to that rule and great things happen.

Interestingly, it’s the “over and over again” part where most people stumble.

Nobody ever tells me, “I forgot to be likeable.” Or, “I’m no longer an expert in my field.”

But what I hear all the time, from all kinds of people in all sorts of professions – especially when things get a little too quiet – is: “I stopped marketing.”

They got busy, or distracted, or tired.

Whatever the specifics, they stopped marketing and, at some point down the road, the phone stopped ringing. It’s almost like these two things are related.

A Little Bit is Way Better Than Nothing

As you may know, in my view, the email newsletter is the only tool on planet Earth that checks all the boxes of the marketing mantra above … all by itself.

But I get it. A newsletter is a project to get it started and a commitment to keep it going.

And yet, if you want people to remember you and refer you and invite you to participate in things, you need to find some way to stay top of mind.

Because as every forgotten celebrity will tell you, it’s the top of mind piece that matters the most.

So, if a newsletter is too much to take on right now, see if you can find other small ways to stay visible:

Send emails to people you know to say hello.

Show up at networking events on a regular basis so that people get to know you.

Post updates on LinkedIn and comment on the posts of others.

Send birthday cards, meet for coffee, volunteer.

Do something.

Would it be better to do things that are strategic, coordinated, and targeted?

Sure. And in terms of your overall health, it would be better to train for a marathon than walk around the block a few times each week.

But you know what? Walking around the block, while not a perfect health regimen, is literally infinitely better than remaining completely sedentary.

Your marketing works the same way. If your fallback from a full-blown program of some sort is to vanish for months at a time, you are, in highly technical terms, a marketing couch potato.

Here’s the Bottom Line

Marketing is a messy, unpredictable, hard to track animal whose results often arrive well down the road. It’s easy to ignore for a long time without noticing any negative impact.

Until, one day, like dress pants that have been hanging around for too long, you’ve got a problem.

So, if you are sitting at square one (or even square zero), look for ways to stay visible.

It’s easy to do and as you start to see results, who knows, you just may get inspired for that marathon.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Who’s your favorite forgotten celebrity?
  2. Have you ever tracked an animal? Explain.
  3. What small, easy thing(s) do you do to remain professionally visible?

Share your answers below…

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14 thoughts on “Get Off the Marketing Couch

  1. Graeme D Roberts

    Who was the young woman with a name like a chain hotel in a foreign city? I think her celebrity was based on her name and and having engaged in a sexual act heretofore unknown to the human race. The sexual act was unexpectedly filmed and ignobly shared with the world by the even less memorable, deservedly uncelebrated person who had played the male part. Or provided it? What did she provide?

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      I have to confess, Graeme, that I had no idea what you were talking about for a bit, until the “chain hotel in a foreign city” clicked. Well done!

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      A thousand points to you, Jan, for noticing that omission. I had an explanation in there initially, but took it out. I hung them in the shower with the hot water running. Not perfect, but good enough!

  2. Albert Kaufman

    I do what you tell me to do – of course!
    Regular emails to a wide variety of lists.
    Someone told me recently that something I had sent them had changed the course of their life in a big way (positive).
    I’m down with that!
    Thanks for the guidance!

  3. Michael Hume

    1. My favorite forgotten celeb… hmm… I forget.
    2. I regularly had to track our Jack Russell Terror, who was a major flight risk throughout her life.
    3. I attend a large networking group, BNI Action Partners, every Friday morning. I drive 120 miles to Denver to do this, because BNI represents about 95% of my business. It is an amazing forcing mechanism to have to stand up in front of all of my clients and prospects once a week, and give a 30-second commercial about my business. I regularly get quality referrals for copywriting and ghost writing projects by doing this. I also publish a monthly HUME-orous e-newsletter, “Word PLAY,” because Michael Katz told me it was a good idea.


    Most people in the marketing world will tell you that the only way to be successful is to be on the couch. They will tell you that if you’re not constantly brainstorming, coming up with new ideas, and planning out your campaigns then you are going to fall behind. And while this may be true to some extent, it’s also important to get up and take a break every once in a while.

    It can be easy to get so caught up in the work that you forget to take care of yourself. But if you don’t take a break every now and then, you’re going to start feeling burned out. And when you’re burned out, it’s going to be hard to come up with new ideas or think straight.

    So how do you find the right balance?

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      I agree, definitely easy to get burned out and to me there is too much emphasis on hard work for its own sake.

      The big insight for me after leaving a conventional job and working for myself is that clients (unlike bosses) have zero interest in how hard you work or how much time you spend. They just want the result. That’s very liberating, since it means you can have happy clients without work taking over your life, provided you can figure out somethign that 1. clients want, and 2. you are really good at.

      On a somewhat related note, this article which I just came acros the other day had some great perspective:

  5. Stephanie Northcott

    1. Gregory Peck
    2. My dog after it had a run-in with a skunk.
    3. I am currently reaching out to friends, family, and new/old connections with an email asking about their last month’s successes and letting them know a quick one of my own. I call it the Success Check-In.


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