Episode 23: Marketing is a Marathon Not a Dash

In order to maintain a full pipeline of opportunities, you need to always be marketing. If you’re not continually preparing the soil, and planting seeds, don’t be surprised when your fields are bare at harvest time. Or, to change the metaphor, marketing is a marathon, not a 100 yard dash.
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Are you ready to take the struggle out of finding new clients?

Creatives love to lose themselves in their work. The creative process is deeply engaging. And when you have plenty of work, it’s easy to just focus on being productive. But as a creative entrepreneur, you can’t afford to get so engrossed in your work that you neglect the fundamental business discipline of marketing. If you stay heads down in the creative process for too long, when you finally surface, you may find that all your opportunities have disappeared.

As an entrepreneur you’re going to have to carve out time for the other roles necessary to running a business. In addition to being productive you also have to handle administration, money, and marketing. And these business disciplines, especially marketing, need to be maintained steadily over time. If you neglect your books for a few months, it might take you days to finally get all your accounts up to date. But you can process all your paperwork and when you’ve finished that last item, you’ll be all caught up.

But with marketing, you can’t catch up by powering through a bunch of neglected marketing tasks. Effective marketing is the result of steady and sustained efforts over time.

And so marketing is going to require you to establish deliberate, and steady habits. You need to carve out time to drop one or two thoughtful posts each and every month. You need to touch base with your contacts on social media regularly. If you need to be building an email list, and send it on a regular basis. Touching base with prospects regularly will be far more fruitful than desperately contacting them all when you find yourself with nothing in your pipeline.

And so marketing needs to be a habit not a hail mary. Once you establish a habit, it becomes second nature—a normal part of your routine. They say it takes three months of consistent practice to form a lasting new habit. Getting through those first few months is critical. And so you need to make sure that your marketing plan is not overly ambitious. Keeping with it, whatever your plan may include, is so much more important, at least in the early days, then what that plan consists of. You can always tweak your strategy, and optimize your efforts later. Establishing a rhythm to your marketing efforts is what’s most important in the beginning.

In his book, The War of Art, Stephen Pressfield identifies resistance as the mortal enemy of creativity. And overcoming resistance, that inclination to do anything else other than the hard work in front of us, is the key to success. This applies to creative endeavors and it also applies to business necessities like marketing.

So if you’ve been putting off your marketing, it’s time to make a resolution to overcome your inner resistance, and commit to a reasonable and achievable plan to make marketing a part of your normal weekly schedule.

In the next few episodes I’ll provide some practical steps you can take, and some tools and tactics for implementing a marketing plan. But unless you resolve to form marketing habits, all the tips and techniques in the world won’t help. So knuckle down, carve out a few hours per week, and get ready to lay the foundation for the future success of your creative practice.

Until next week: don’t let the business of creativity overwhelm your creative business.