An old friend of mine (I say old because it was a long time ago, and because he was old) once shared his exercise philosophy with me. His secret? “No pain, no pain!” He had a point. While he may have embraced this idea when it came to hitting the gym, he betrayed his convictions when it came to running his business. He believed in “No pain, no gain” when he was getting his design firm off the ground. Starting a new company always involves finding extra time to do design work as well as the extra marketing and management needed to run a firm.
When I was in that situation. I sought his advice. He told me it was easy to find the time—just wake up one hour earlier and go to sleep one hour later. Personally, I would rather endure the treadmill than force myself out of bed at the crack of dawn—but we all have to choose our pain.
Discipline and Determination Needed
Like all worthwhile things in life, when we set a goal, we have to be disciplined and determined in order to achieve it. This goes for getting in shape, altering our diets, or marketing our creative practices. If we stick with the program we can reach our goals. But if we pursue them in fits and starts, we’ll end up wasting time and being disappointed.
More Than a Marathon
In episode 23 of my podcast, I talked about how marketing is a marathon, not a 100 yard dash. And it is. But that analogy is actually a little bit off, it’s really like training for a marathon, rather running one. To run a marathon you have to start training well before the event. Reaching a goal like that takes a commitment to daily habits for months ahead of time.
Marketing habits might not be as intense as those need to run a marathon, but they need to be even more continuous than physical training. It’s more like brushing your teeth—something you do routinely and persistently. You should be devoting some part of every business day to marketing activities like writing, list building, messaging prospects, and posting to social media. Such commitment and discipline may not be as difficult as you think. The key is consistency and plodding.
What Twenty Minutes a Day Can Accomplish
You would be surprised how much you can achieve if you devote just twenty minutes per day, every day, to your marketing. In twenty minutes you could write 300-400 words. In twenty minutes you can read 15-20 pages of a book. In twenty minutes you can reach out to 10 prospects. If you work 230 days per year (which gives you six weeks off), you could write 70,000 words (more than a book’s worth). You could read 3,400 pages. You could reach out to 2,300 prospects. Just imagine what you could do if you devoted 45 minutes to marketing!
Slow and steady is the key to building marketing disciplines. But if you ignore these tasks, and try to make up for them later—well you know how that goes.
Here are some practical tips for building up steady marketing disciplines.
1. Do them first! Any task that you might want to avoid is best tackled first thing. Set aside the first 20-30 minutes of your work day to tackle your list of marketing tasks. Do it before you check your email. Not only will this ensure that you accomplish these tasks, but you will feel that much freer for the rest of the day, knowing that those less pleasant activities are behind you. If you wait until later in the day, the tyranny of the urgent will almost always push out the priority of the important.
2. Have a system. One of the biggest barriers to productivity is not having a plan. You should be able to jump right into your daily activity without having to spend time considering what you should be doing. Write on Mondays, build your list on Tuesdays, send messages on Wednesdays, post to social media on Thursdays, and engage with commenters on Fridays. Or perhaps you spend just 10 minutes each day messaging and then 20 writing. Whatever routine works for you, define it, set it, and keep it.
3. Stop when your time is up. One of the biggest killers of forming a habit is being too ambitious with your initial goals. If you push yourself to the limits on your first day back at the gym, you’re not going to go back the next. If you spend several hours on an article on one day, causing you to be backed up on all your other work, you’re not going to do it again the next. Set simple, attainable, and maintainable goals, and stop when you’re done. Stopping is itself a discipline, and lack of control on this point is perhaps the most common cause of failure.
Slow and Steady in the Right Direction
Of course, being disciplined in your marketing activity presumes that you are engaging in the right things in the first place. It would be tragic to build a house one brick a day only to find out in the end that you were using the wrong kind of material. And so investing in your strategy upfront, and building a plan that’s worth investing in, is an important prerequisite. If you are going to start off a new exercise program, it makes sense to begin with a personal trainer who can make sure you’re doing the right things in the right way. And so if you’re ready to get disciplined with your marketing, you might want to get some help with your PinPoint Positioning and content strategy. But don’t do that if you’re not prepared to follow it up with new steady, long-term, marketing habits.