Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Right Time for Marketing? Right Now

Steve Martin used to joke about the most important element in comedy: "And that, of course, is...ti-MING, ti-ti-ime....ming."

No one's timing is always perfect -- not in comedy, and not in business. But we like to bamboozle ourselves into thinking that there's one perfect shining moment in which to act, one perfect thing we can do or say that will hit the cosmic jackpot and get customers running to us. We watch and wait for that moment, hoping that we'll be quick enough to pounce on it when it arrives.

And in the meantime, our business hangs in stasis.

Procrastination is human nature. We want all conditions to be optimal before we commit to starting something. We want to know the temperature in the pool before we even dip a toe into it. A lot non-swimming happens that way.

Writers understand this kind of fear better than just about anybody. Some speculate that the dreaded "writer's block" is, in part, a simple fear of commitment, an unwillingness to try ideas out and watch them fail. When you insist that everything that comes from your pen has to be gold, you make it impossible for yourself to start. So writers have to get used to the routine of starting somewhere -- anywhere -- and drafting a big chunks of text that will almost certainly hit the wastebasket. But in the process of crossing things out, we discover the piece we wanted to write among what remains.

Launching a marketing campaign can produce the same kind of fear. What if the timing isn't just right? What if you make a strategic error along the way? What if your judgement isn't perfect? Wouldn't it be more comfortable just to stay where you are?

There's no bad time to market yourself. I've had business owners wave off the prospect of launching some fresh marketing on the grounds that "I'm doing really well at the moment." It's those last three words that matter. Don't let yourself be blindsided by this month's numbers -- they are probably the direct result of the marketing you did last month, last quarter, or even last year. Slack off on marketing now, and you may hear crickets chirping a month of two from now. When things are going badly, marketing can help get you back on top; when things are going well, marketing can help keep you there.

"But I have no ideas." That's what marketing consultants and copywriters are for. You'd be surprised how many ideas you have once an experienced professional starts pulling them out of you. I've helped clients create entire newsletters, blogging campaigns, and article series out of what appeared to be thin air -- only it wasn't thin air. They had the ideas; I just helped bring them to life. We didn't wait for the planets to line up just so. We made it happen.

And so can you. Anytime.