Last year, I lost over 40 pounds (almost 3 stone). And everyone I’ve ever spoken to about it who also wants to lose weight has asked, “How did you do it?” My eyes always light up and I say, “It’s a really, really amazing secret. Do you want to know?” Yes, of course they do. They lean in. They wait with bated breath. What did I know that they have missed out on for so many years?? And I tell them.
You eat less, and you exercise more.
The one most encouraging thing is that I never went to a gym. I hate gyms. I had no personal training sessions, I didn’t lift weights, there was nothing ‘fancy’. I simply walked. Every single day – sometimes for 10-15 minutes, other days I’d walk for several hours. But other than Sundays, which are my day of rest, I walked, and I counted calories and ate less.
The funny thing is, with losing weight, there’s never a fancy formula. Weight Watchers and Slimfast and all the various dieting programmes work because they enable you to eat less, and they encourage you to exercise. People who go to gyms succeed in losing weight because they are disciplining themselves on a regular basis. But we’re always looking for the magic programme, the magic button, something that will make it easy.
It’s not easy.
It’s very hard to say no to that piece of cheesecake – again. Or to say yes, but only a tiny piece. To feel hungry before bed but not make yourself a snack. To refuse the whipped cream.
The same applies to marketing. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: marketing takes discipline, and consistency, and follow up. That’s all. You don’t have to have the perfect logo, or the perfect website, or the newest QR codes on your business cards. But you have to try things, and change them and try again, and keep trying them, and stick at it when you feel like nothing will ever work.
And it’s not about what Simon Sinek calls “aspirational messages” – statements that fire us up and tell us we can do it, and do it quickly. In his excellent book Start With Why, he says, “Though positive in nature, aspirational messages are most effective with those who lack discipline or have a nagging fear or insecurity that they don’t have the ability to achieve their dreams on their own. I always joke that you can get someone to buy a gym membership with an aspirational message, but to get them to go three days a week requires a bit of inspiration.” He talks about those who try diet after diet, imagining that they will look like their favourite celebrity, but every single programme “comes with the qualification that regular exercise and a balanced diet will help boost results. In other words, discipline.”
Discipline is the answer for dieting, and discipline is the answer for marketing.
Another extremely telling statement Sinek makes is along these very lines. “This short term response to long term desires is alive and well in the corporate world also. A management consultant friend of mine was hired by a billion-dollar company to help it fulfil its goals and aspirations. The problem was, she explained, no matter the issue, the company’s managers were always drawn to the quicker, cheaper option over the better long-term solution. Just like the habitual dieter, ‘they never have the time or money to do it right the first time,’ she said of her client, ‘but they always have the time and money to do it again.’”
Is that you? Are you drawn to the quick-fix, aspirational message that will solve all your marketing problems tomorrow? Or are you willing to see it through to the long term, realising that it will cost you less in the end and will have greater results?
Here are a few tips for sticking with things for the long term:
Don’t blame the system. If your emails aren’t getting responded to, or your webinars aren’t being signed up for, or your website isn’t being visited, it’s probably not the fault of the email system or the webinar platform or the internet. Change your content. Address your target market. Get more names in the top of the funnel. Ask for advice from those who do it well. Try and try and try again – don’t give up and say “Well, clearly emails don’t work.”
Pay the money for expert advice. Get someone to write content for you, or help you develop a content marketing plan that you can follow all year long. Get an expert to design a really cracking website for you. Hire a professional photographer to take those images that will really impress. Hold a strategic planning session, and then get accountability every month on the action points from it. These are things that we do regularly for our clients, and they’re always glad they didn’t try it themselves. Similarly, I wouldn’t try to write HTML code for a website – I don’t know how. We have experts who do that for us, and they do it well.
Get a coach. Every single dieting effort I made was a complete fail until I hired a personal trainer to meet with me weekly, watch my numbers, and challenge, encourage, and support me in my efforts. No way could I have done it alone. The first six weeks I didn’t gain any weight, but I didn’t lose a pound, either. That was extremely discouraging. But for the support of my trainer, I would have given up. But she said, “You’re doing the right things – it will produce results. There is absolutely no doubt.” And so we made slight changes, and I kept going, and now here I am.
Keep at it on your worst day. When you feel the most discouraged, when it seems like every effort you make is useless, you’re probably on the cusp of something amazing. And that’s when most people give up. I distinctly remember sitting on a balcony of a house in Cyprus, on the phone to my trainer, saying, “I can’t do this anymore. I haven’t lost a single pound. What’s the use?” And I really wanted to give up – just go and eat whatever I wanted, when I wanted, new and incredibly good food in a foreign country. But I didn’t, and we altered our plan a little bit, and the next week I lost my first pound. And the week after that another. And another. And now here I am, forty pounds down, and I’m so glad I didn’t give up.
Remember that your prospective clients and customers don’t want you to give up. They are busy, exhausted, discouraged, and fearful, too. And they want someone who understands that and will not leave them stranded. Just send them an email every once in a while – or make a phone call, or connect on Linked In. When they’re ready, they’ll come to you: but it helps immensely that they know you’re not giving up on them, either.