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.
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.
- Who’s your favorite forgotten celebrity?
- Have you ever tracked an animal? Explain.
- What small, easy thing(s) do you do to remain professionally visible?
Share your answers below…