This is Week 26 of a 52-week project/experiment in DIY marketing. Armed with nothing but a copy of the 2009 Grow Your Business Marketing Plan + Calendar
and my bare wits, I'm applying the skills you need to grow a business
in real time, day by day, and reporting on them week by week. See my
companion blog, A Virgo's Guide to Marketing, for some more in-depth posts, additional links and other marketing-related goodness.
Crikey! Has it really been six months?! It seems like just yesterday that little Junior cut his first tooth.
Ah, well. I was feeling a bout of reflection coming on, so really, it's perfect timing. (And I hear tell there will be a non-dated version of the Calendar coming out soonish, so maybe this will also be helpful if you're just getting started.)
What I've learned about marketing by doing it every day
- It adds up. Doing a little here and there may not seem like much as you're doing it. (Or it may seem like a lot—YMMV!) But halfway through the year, I realized I've met a big personal-marketing goal of mine in increasing blog readership. To wit, I've doubled in six months what it took me four years to build in the first place. I credit a number of things: writing daily posts, responding regularly in comments, commenting on other blogs, staying active in social media. (And it didn't hurt that Facebook exploded this year.) I also increased my newsletter list by 50% in six months, while maintaining open rates and click-throughs. This may be a function of critical mass, but I think it's at least in part owing to working my butt off to continually improve the two things I care the most about, output-wise.
- Pace yourself. Part of the reason I think I crashed so hard three months in is because I worked myself too hard out of the gate. A few people commented to that effect when I confessed how sick I got, and even said they were somewhat relieved to hear I was, in fact, human. I'm still not sure about that, but I've realized that having down time and a life are both important. Remember: blank weekend spaces on the calendar are there for a reason!
- Accountability helps. A lot! There were weeks I'm certain I would have blown off everything but for the shame of having to admit it out loud here. And I never would have even tried cold calling—no way! Of course, I'm still not as good at it as Deidre, but that's for a couple of good reasons. Namely…
- Practice makes perfect. Okay, not perfect, but better. It's a muscle, and working it makes you stronger. It also takes away some of the sting and fear. When you don't die enough times in a row, you start to trust that you'll be okay with whatever it is you're afraid of. Most of us don't look forward to cold calling at first, but eventually, you can become like Ilise and Peleg (and maybe Deidre!) who actually look forward to the game of it. I don't yet, and there's another reason as well:
- All of this assumes you like what you're doing the marketing about. Last week, I confessed to some ambivalence. I'm glad I did (accountability!) because it made me reflect on it more this week. I'm still not 100% sure that I'm either the be-all, end-all of communications consulting (and if I am, I had better find a different way to describe it) or if I'm just meant to write, period (and if I am, I'd better clear even more time to do some "real"—i.e., offline—writing as well). But I'm committed to putting my consulting practice front and center, and seeing where it leads me. I really, really enjoy teaching people what I know, and both consulting and writing (and speaking, too) let me do that.
My goals were very different from Deidre's and probably from yours, if you're a normal business owner. Ilise and I talked very specifically toward the end of 2008 about my desire to focus on increasing my readership. This has translated to more client work, too, but I'm aware that any growth there is a gift, as I wasn't putting my all into marketing my services.
Thanks for keeping me honest so far; I hope you'll stick with me as I move forward.