Farmers don’t till soil, plant seed, and fertilize their fields hoping that if they have enough luck they might get a crop. A harvest is the expected and dependable outcome of farming. That said, every activity, including farming entails some risk. Droughts do happen after all. But all things considered, applying proper methods in farming results in a crop. The same goes for your marketing. When you apply a good marketing strategy, and faithfully work your ground, you will see results. It’s not a guessing game or a crapshoot. But for marketing to work you need a few necessary ingredients.
A Key Ingredient: Time
No analogy stretches perfectly, but one aspect of my farming analogy that does extend to marketing is the fact that farming and marketing take time. It takes an entire season to grow a crop. In some cases, like growing pineapples, it takes two whole years from the time you plant until you harvest the fruit.
Transforming your marketing will take time too. There are no magic beans that grow overnight. In fact, the time table from the start of the process to a marketing harvest can be close to pineapple farming. In general, when working with creative entrepreneurs, I tell them to plan on an eighteen month process. That can be shortened or lengthened, depending on how much time they put in, and on how quickly they make some of the critical early decisions about their positioning and a good marketing strategy. But any way you slice it, a sound and dependable marketing program will take time.
And so you can’t afford to wait until your referral network goes dry, and your project pipeline dries up before you start thinking about marketing. There is no better time than the present to get the ball rolling.
Why Does A Good Marketing Strategy Take So Long?
There are a few components to building an effective marketing program that simply can’t be rushed. The first is establishing your PinPoint Positioning. In one sense, all that is required is a decision, which can be made in seconds. But in reality, contemplating, evaluating, testing, and committing to a focused positioning statement can take weeks or months. When I was first introduced to this concept back in 1999, it took me about nine months to identify, hone, and commit to my new positioning. Of course it doesn’t have to take that long, but you need to factor the time that this fundamental, and preliminary step will take into your marketing transformation timeline.
Content Creation Takes Time
One you have a PinPoint Position you’ll need to begin the process of expressing this position through content. This process might involve cultivating new skills, and learning new habits—both of which take time. And of course, you’ll need to generate at least a handful of pieces before you can launch your new positioning. Not to mention that a new positioning might also lead to a rebrand, or at least a reframing of your current brand, including reworking your website, and portfolio—all of which take time.
Outreach Takes Time
Finally, once you’ve made the big decisions and prepared the ground, you have to start the real effort of marketing—reaching out to prospects. As my class will teach you, the mechanics of this process are not hard. But marketing a professional service always involves establishing trust, which means taking a personal approach with your prospects. Because of this constraint, you will only be able to effectively reach out to a small batch of prospects each day. So again, working through that process will take time.
Opportunities Are Contingent on Timing
Finally, when you have done all that you can do based on your own initiative and activity, marketing is all about timing. You can’t expect that every qualified prospect you reach out to will be ready, at that very moment, with a project. It can be months, maybe years before such an occasion arises (which is why you will need to continually nurture your leads). But eventually, when you’ve been marketing for years, your prospects will have a need for your services, and then all your work will pay off.
Marketing involves a lot of front end work, but once it gets rolling, it can become a powerful engine that delivers great leads, and puts you in control of your creative practice.