Heavyweight Marketing

I was a chubby kid. In fact, all the way into my early teens, I was overweight. Eventually, I slimmed down, but those early years instilled me with an awareness of health and diet that has stuck with me throughout my life. In the 80′s, I bought my first gym membership, and I loved it. Over the years, I’ve belonged to several gyms and, while I’ve been more diligent some years than I have others, I’ve always enjoyed the physical and mental benefits of a consistent fitness routine,

Recently, a friend of mine joined the gym I belong to and I was super excited to encourage him on his awesome journey to improved health. I probably sounded like an irritating know-it-all as I grilled him about his goals and explained which routines, weights and machines he should try, but I truly wanted to inspire him with knowledge and experience that I’ve gleaned over the years.

Of course, if there’s anything I enjoy more than my Friday night workouts, it’s the world of marketing. So, as I was chatting my friend’s ear off about the best ways to achieve his workout goals, I started to noticed some similarities between the advice I was sharing with him, and the advice I share with my marketing clients.

So, how is marketing similar to working out?

It Pays to Have a Plan

You can always spot the newbies at the gym: They’re the ones doing the No-Plan Shuffle. They ping-pong from machine to machine without rhyme or reason hoping they don’t look too out of place. Their reps lack form, their sets are inconsistent and it seems they’re making up their routine as they go. After an indeterminate amount of time–usually when they run out of things to do–they pack it in and head on home.

Business owners do the No-Plan Shuffle with their marketing. They ping-pong between tools and tactics without clearly defining their objectives. They do just enough to feel like they’re covering the bases, yet they neglect to adequately track outcomes or measure results. It’s no surprise that this is ineffective. It’s not that they are planning to fail, it’s just that they are failing to plan.

Determining your objectives, knowing your goals, understanding your audience, planning your strategy and choosing the appropriate messaging and tools of delivery will require extra thought and effort up front, but will pay off in the long run. We’re almost through the 1st Quarter of 2013. Do you have a detailed marketing plan in place for the year, or are you making it up as you go?

It’s Better With a Buddy

Luckily, my partner enjoys working out as much as I do, so we keep each other inspired and motivated. We have standing workout dates three times a week, to which we hold each other accountable. If I know she’s coming to pick me up for a workout, it’s a lot harder to slack off than if I were simply planning on heading to the gym myself. During the workout, the presence of a buddy drives you to push a bit harder and longer than if you were there on your own. It’s also fun to have a workout buddy so you can compare notes on technique and form, share new routines, and encourage each other as you progress.

While I don’t have a lot of buddies who are as interested in marketing as I am, I do have a couple, which keeps me from operating in a vacuum. Getting together with peers, fellow entrepreneurs, and other marketers allows business owners to share ideas and experiences, commiserate, learn about new tools and technologies, troubleshoot problems and discuss industry news. This pushes action, innovation, and even may inspire a little healthy competition, which ensures that everyone’s business continues to evolve.

It’s Frustrating Not To See Results

It takes time to lose weight and it takes time to build muscle. When people join a gym, they’re hoping to see results. Immediate results, preferably. When they don’t see results, they get frustrated and lose their momentum. They start to lose faith in the idea of getting in shape, and eventually they quit. Before long, they’re back on the couch in their pajamas watching Downtown Abbey and licking Cheetos dust from their fingers.

The same thing happens to those business owners doing the No-Plan Shuffle. They try a few marketing methods hoping for a quick-fix, an immediate boost in customers, or a spike in revenue. When they don’t see the results they hoped for (which were not clearly defined to begin with), they get frustrated and adopt a negative opinion about marketing. They say things like, “Marketing doesn’t work,” or “We don’t need to advertise.”

It IS frustrating not to see results, but business owners need to approach marketing as a marathon rather than a sprint. Define short-term and long-term goals and acknowledge that achieving them will take time. Track response to your efforts, fine-tune your regimen as needed, and celebrate the victories along the way. Oh, and stay away from the Cheetos.

Consistency Is Key

The only way to achieve those elusive results is through consistency. If you pop into the gym at random intervals, workout only when you feel like it, or slack off until just before swimsuit weather hits, you will have a hard time reaching your goals. Only through regular, consistent, ongoing dedication will your efforts pay off. When you see the physique you’ve been striving for start to emerge over time, it’s exciting! It motivates you to stay the course, and helps you to understand that optimal fitness is not a New Year’s resolution, but rather a lifetime commitment.

Marketing is also a commitment to be implemented throughout the life of your business. Give your chosen tools and tactics enough time to determine whether or not they are successful, and focus your efforts on the ones that are. That could mean placing regular ads, promoting frequent sales and events, keeping your website fresh, actively engaging your social media following, and keeping up with new consumer trends or technologies that you may wish to try. Whether building a buff brand or a buff bod, consistency will get you there.

Time will tell if my friend sticks with his new workout routine. However, as long as he develops a plan, stays consistent, works through his frustrating plateaus, and connects with others who share his passions, he will do just fine. And the same goes for business owners hoping to achieve success with their marketing.