There was a time when I used to hang out with a couple of Iron Man athletes. They pitched and sold me on the idea that hiking up Mt. Si (a 4 mile, steep, repetitive scenery and deceivingly difficult hike) was an easy morning thing to squeeze in. I trusted them, and I trusted my abilities as during those days I was actively suffering at Crossfit, hiking regularly and could even splurge at Dairy Queen without a budge on the scale. There was no easy button, and if there had been one I would have stomped on it with every last bit of energy I had. Like Marketing, it’s miles, the sweat and the feet on the ground that go the distance and get the results.
Pushing the Limits, Enjoy the PB&J
While I may have oversold myself as an athlete or my Ironman friends overestimated my abilities I found myself hiking up the mountain pretty unprepared for success. I clearly remember asking my two super-human friends if I should bring something, like water. “Naw, you will be fine” they incorrectly reassured me. At the top of the mountain, I realized two things: keeping up with people that can run 5 minute miles for 26+ miles is almost impossible without contemplating jumping off the trail and, hiding in the bushes, I also learned that after you suffer for 3+ hours and finally get a chance to sink your teeth into a donated PB&J sandwich it will be the most delicious thing you have ever eaten.
“Anyone who wants success in their business better be prepared to work hard on marketing. It is part of the day-to-day work that will fuel your business. BUT if you want to sustain for the long-haul and not frizzle-fry, then figure out how to work SMART vs. working HARD on your marketing.” Lorrie Thomas, Web Marketing Therapy
If I hadn’t made it to the top of Mt. Si, I would have never known what it would take to do it. I have worked with a lot of underdogs and a few champions; some of those businesses rose from the bowels of Google to be first in every highly qualified search and converted visitors beautifully into users. Emails were sent out announcing to the whole company that our team successfully brought another customer on board which was the baton for other teams to take it from there.
In other roles, I called upon the team and my marketing MacGyver skills. As a team, we massaged leads, sometimes for more than 6 months, before we got a nibble back. The idea of gently poking leads on a regular basis paid off. Leads converted or unsubscribed and the grueling customer lifecycle became less a stretch of patience and more of a work of art. Those tougher campaigns and goals made me, as one investor labeled me, “scrappy.”
While my previous experience and training helped get me to that opportunity, it was there on the ground, answering calls from customers and managing all aspects of customer facing marketing that, like hiking up that mountain, is what put theory to the test.
Listen, Learn, Engage
Make your climb up marketing Mt. Si more enjoyable by listening to and learning from customers, befriending analytics and engaging with your community on and offline. Run with my experience and use these tried and tested ways of keeping community management focused and most importantly fun! Taking feedback and blending it with analytic data makes perfect content strategy smoothies.
“Content marketing gives us back the one thing us digital marketers so desperately crave: control of our own destiny.” – Ben Holbrook, State of Search
Working with your marketing team doesn’t need to leave you creatively drained. Free your team, and most importantly you, from looking for viral, catchy, non-relevant content that leeches your creative fuel tank. Gather ideas from the group, your team, customers, even partners and validate it with data. Ta da! Now you have a boat load of valuable content for your audience, marketing team, sales and investors.
If Marketing Feels like Climbing a Mountain
Keep going, climb that mountain! Draw from your experience, your education and those around you to make it a successful trip. Invest the time putting one foot in front of the other, gather data, reach out, get feedback and create a scrappy strategy to reach your goals. Oh, and don’t forget to enjoy the PB&J sandwich at the top.