I’ll be honest with you. If I’m writing this blog post it’s because I lost 20 kilos in 4 months and I’m pretty damn proud of it! It wasn’t easy. It didn’t happen overnight. I had lots of up’s and down’s and sometimes I felt like giving up. I had to make significant lifestyle changes to get the results I wanted. I had to continuously work at it despite external pressures. I was sometimes led to believe that my efforts were having no impact whatsoever on my bigger picture. But you know what? Despite it all, I did it! Which got me to thinking that my job in marketing is pretty similar in some ways to the experience I had losing all that extra weight. So as a tribute to my personal struggle, and to help those of you out there who need tips to give some spark to your marketing campaigns (or have made losing weight one of your New Year’s Resolutions), here are a few essential reasons why marketing is a lot like weight loss:
It’s a journey
Now I’m not talking about the buyer journey, I’m talking about how creating and executing a marketing strategy takes extensive planning, preparation, and thought; it takes motivation to continue doing even when you don’t see immediate results. Knowing that you’re in it for the long-haul is what I mean when I say “it’s a journey,” and exactly like weight loss, it means that you can’t expect that just by making one change you are going to suddenly have hundreds of inbound sales leads landing on your lap. I used to think that if I exercised I could eat whatever I wanted to. Well, let me tell you that by doing that, I was certainly eating more calories than what I was burning while sweating my butt off at the gym. For an entire year before I started logging everything I ate, I didn’t lose one gram despite going 3 times a week to work out. If you don’t take a holistic approach to losing weight (by making better food choices, counting every calorie, AND including regular exercise as part of your routine), not much is going to happen. The same is true for marketing. Having a campaign by campaign approach instead of an “always-on” one means you are not going to reap the benefits of continuity over time. That’s not to say you won’t have any impact — just not as much as one that doesn’t end abruptly because it’s the end of the quarter.
Having support is essential
Having a support network in place to reach your goals is key. Goal-setting is hard, and talking about them with others is a big commitment — when you tell someone that you want to lose 20 kilos it becomes real, but it also means that you are going to feel like a loser if you don’t stick with it. For a long time, I didn’t want to tell my husband that I planned on dieting; the reason being that I didn’t want him on my back if I decided to deviate from my meal plan every now and again. In hindsight, I was giving myself a way out — I was allowing myself to give up without feeling bad about it. So really, I was unintentionally sabotaging my own commitment to the program before I had even started! In marketing, it’s rare that people seek out a support group, but creating one in order to align marketing and sales and to ensure that the organization as a whole supports your initiatives is just as important. Having a meeting internally to talk about goals and to set concrete objectives that you are all willing to work towards together will help ensure success. Regular update meetings to monitor progress over time, evaluate KPI’s, discuss the quality of the leads being generated, what has converted, what has not and why, is equivalent to daily weigh-ins. Making sure that you are part of a group that is working towards the same end-goal will help you when the going gets rough.
During my weight loss journey, I hit a few plateaus. I was doing everything right but the scale was not budging AT ALL. In fact, there were even a couple of occasions where the scale was going up, despite my eating only 1200 calories a day and exercising regularly. There’s nothing worse for your own moral than doing exactly what you are supposed to only to see the opposite results of what you desire. The same is true for marketing, and as with weight loss, you need to push through those slumps in order to get past them. Just because you are doing everything according to the book doesn’t mean you are going to get the results you want each time. Marketing is a roller coaster ride and sometimes slumps don’t have precise explanations either. Some events work while others don’t; some email marketing efforts get great reactivity, others don’t. Doing A/B testing can help determine why some initiatives are more successful than others, but understanding that slumps are a natural part of the process can help take the pressure off a bit — and it should keep you on your toes to find alternative methods to test too.
While agile marketing is a buzz term nowadays, it’s important to keep in mind that adaptability to situation changes in life is a must, whether that be in the marketing realm or your personal one. Dieters often fail because they cannot adapt to changes in their environment — you are confronted with an exceptional circumstance and instead of having one small portion of cake to celebrate a colleague’s birthday and call it quits, they throw everything out the window and eat like a pig for the entire day because of one slip up. (Basically the equivalent of smashing the crap out of your phone just because you dropped it on the floor…) I’ve known a lot of marketers who stick to the same tactics year in and year out just because that’s what they’ve always done, not because what they’re doing is the best method. Being able to adapt to changes in the market isn’t easy — it takes monitoring, openness to feedback, and a willingness to try new things — but it is essential in order to stay on your toes as a marketer.
Whether you are a marketer or a dieter it’s important to keep in mind that results aren’t always immediate. Building a plan and sticking to it in order to reach your goals takes determination, willingness, and motivation. Being capable of adapting to your circumstances without losing sight of the bigger picture will keep you stay on the right path to success. And of course, never give up!