When a farmer tills his fields, plants seeds, and fertilises the soil, he’s not doing all that work just hoping, just wishing for a harvest. No, proper agricultural methods dependably result in a crop. Of course every venture under the sun has risks, droughts and blights do happen, but aside from such rare setbacks, proper methods and faithful efforts produce results. The same goes for your marketing. When you apply the right methods in the right way you can expect a crop. But also, like farming, the process of preparation, planting, and waiting for a harvest can take quite some time.
Pineapple farmers must be the most patient people in the world. A pineapple plant has to grow for two full years before a pineapple can finally be harvested. Creative entrepreneurs, like pineapple farmers, also have to be patient. The time table from the first steps in forming a marketing program to the time you start enjoying its fruits is pretty close to that of pineapple farming. It can take up to eighteen months to get a program off the ground.
Now it is possible to shorten this timeframe through fast decision making, and extra exertion in the preparation involved. But other aspects of a new marketing program can’t be rushed. And so the sooner you start the sooner you’ll get to that harvest!
Let’s dive into the prep time involved in establishing a marketing program in a bit more detail.
The first step in any marketing program is establishing your PinPoint Positioning. And while it only takes seconds, technically, to make a decision, in reality the amount of contemplation, evaluation, testing, and working up the courage to commit to a positioning statement can take a long time. When I first learned about positioning back in 1999 it took me almost nine months to finally craft and commit to my new positioning. But if you’re more decisive than I was, you can trim a lot of time off this essential preliminary strategic prerequisite to establishing a marketing program.
After committing to a positioning statement you then have to express that positioning on all your key platforms, especially your website. You’ll also need to create some positioning specific content to bolster and validate your positioning. Defining and executing on a content strategy and reworking your platforms with new content can easily take three or four months. Again, this period can be shortened if you knuckle down and put in some extra hours to get your platforms ready.
Once you’ve established your new platform it will be finally time to start reaching out to prospects. There are many ways to do this, but as a professional service, you have to take a personal approach. Professional service marketing is in large part about establishing trust. And building trust requires a personal approach. So the volume of outreach you can manage is going to be governed by the time it takes to personally reach out and follow up with individual projects. And so again, it will take time to work through your prospect list, making first contact, and establishing new connections.
And once you make each new connection a clock starts with each specific new prospect. You see, every prospect will be at some stage in a sales cycle. If, for example, you provide website development services and make a new connection the day after they launched a brand new site, that time table may be very long. Or you might get lucky and just happen to connect with a prospect that is just about ready for a redesign. But most will be somewhere in the middle.
Eventually, after you’ve been marketing for years, a certain percentage of your prospects will always be hitting that sweet spot of your sales cycle. That’s how a mature marketing program consistently delivers leads, because you will have already made connections, and will have been nurturing your prospects as they’ve moved through your sales cycles over the years. But right out of the gate you don’t have the benefit of those years, and so early stage marketing is a waiting game.
Marketing with the right methods works. But it always takes time. So get started as soon as possible. And if you want to speed things along take my course, Marketing Mastery for Creative Entrepreneurs. And be sure to use the code “5mce” for a podcast listener discount!
Until next week: don’t let the business of creativity overwhelm your creative business.