Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Winter Walk Reminded Me of an Important Approach to Marketing

I like to go for walks.  I don't take them nearly enough, but I usually enjoy them when I do.

I enjoy them enough that I like taking them in the Winter, even when it's insanely cold outside.  Don't get me wrong, I prefer walks during the Summer, but I enjoy walking enough that I'm willing to take my walks in weather that scares off most other people.

One of the benefits of walking--for me--is that it sort of acts like a form of meditation for me.  I make a lot of realizations just by walking, because let's fact it, unless we're walking along a uniquely picturesque path for the first time, walking--solely as an activity--is not really that exciting.  For most of us, walking is not really a challenge, and once we've traveled through a walking path, there is not too much that deserves our close, focused attention on the 2nd and 3rd times we walk that same path.  So--without really trying--I use it as a form of meditation.

That means a lot of really crazy thoughts come to me while I'm on most of my walks.  Occasionally, I'll make some worthwhile realizations.

When I'm walking during most snowy and coldest parts the Winter, often I'm the first person to walk a trail.  That means that there really is not any trail.  I'm making my own way.

As the weather begins to warm, most of the snow begins to melt.  However, often the temperature still fluctuates between being cold enough to freeze and warm enough to melt.

This leads to an entirely different type of adventure: invisible ice.  You never know when you're going to step on some.  You'll walk on just enough "dry pavement" to feel comfortable walking and let down your guard.

Suddenly, you'll step on a patch of "invisible ice" and slip.  More often than not, we don't fall, but we're reminded--suddenly--how easily we can hurt ourselves.

My Realization?

It's a LOT easier to slip (and possibly fall and hurt myself) when I take the path the many other people have taken.  You see, once the weather starts to break (get warmer) and snow begins to melt, more people feel comfortable walking on these same paths.  However, this snow begins to compact and turn into ice.  It also "clears" the pavement just enough so that melting snow beside it turns into water and sets in that "cleared" area--turning into ice--only sometimes.

My Solution?

Once I realize that this well-traveled path is icy (and slippery), I realize that I'm better off creating my own path.  Yes, I step BESIDE the "established" path and create my own new one, even when it's in the snow.


Because while stepping in snow is less convenient, it's also less slippery.

What does this have to do with marketing?

During my walk, I started thinking.  I realized that I was literally walking in a silly but accurate metaphor for many people's approach to marketing.

In many places--but especially online--I notice that there are a lot of people lecturing about ways to market online.  Maybe they really are doing these things; in many cases they're not.  While that is important, it's not my point right now.

I notice that most people suggest doing the SAME THINGS.  They suggest doing what nearly everyone else is doing.

Does anyone else see a potential problem with that?

Yes, many of these ideas are suggested by so many, because these ideas are good (not all of them, though).

So what's my problem with it?

Problem #1: If we do what everyone else is doing, how do we expect to get noticed for doing something exceptional.

Problem #2: This is the biggest one--for me.  If everyone is taking the same marketing steps, is that not where most of my competition is playing?  Why do I want to spend all of my time going there?

Like walking, it's good to take a marketing path that is proven to be safe and effective.

However, like walking, once too many people start to take that same path, it becomes more slippery (more competitive).  When you follow the crowd to a gold rush, do you really expect to find very much undiscovered gold?

When you create your own paths, it might not be as convenient as when you take the "proven" and well-worn path, but you're also less likely to slip on the waste your competition left tearing down that path.

Final Question: The next time you go for your marketing walk, will you take that slippery, established path, or will you plow through to find your own path that maybe others will follow later?

You don't always have to be a pioneer.  (They often get shot!)  However, you might want to consider making your own path, rather than doing what everyone else is doing--me, too!

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