How to get off the marketing treadmill and play a bigger game
How long do you keep on pushing?
This was the question I asked myself a few years ago. It was the start of 2014 and I realised I couldn’t keep going the way I had been.
From the outside, I had a successful coaching business. I had a steady flow of 1-2-1 clients, had launched several successful online programmes and was running a membership site teaching social media to 100+ members.
But inside, I was knackered.
Worn out running a treadmill business.
Although I could make money, it was transient; as soon as money came in, it went straight back out again. So if I wanted to make more money, I thought I had to create another programme and get promoting again. And then again the next month. And the next.
I wanted to grow. I wanted to play a bigger game.
But I was using a push energy that meant I felt I was working harder and harder just to stay in the same place.
I know now that I wasn’t alone in feeling like this. The marketing treadmill is an easy place to get stuck on and yet can be incredibly tough to jump off. And this is why I want to share some of the lessons I’ve learnt over the past few years that have helped me get off the treadmill and start growing a scalable business, whilst making my health, wellbeing and downtime a priority.
1) It’s not your fault, it’s the fault of your marketing system
When you sell yourself – your IP, expertise, time or knowledge – it’s easy to get emotionally caught up with the whole selling aspect of business. If you put your heart and soul into your marketing, each rejection can feel like a personal insult.
Are you really as good as you say you are? Should you be charging those prices? There are bigger and better businesses out there … who am I to be offering what I do?
Now imagine if you had a process to attract new leads and a system that helped those people to buy from you. You would still be personally involved and ensuring that these people felt connected and engaged with you throughout the process but you didn’t have to think about what to do at each stage.
You had clear steps laid out, personalised scripts and follow-up communications all ready to go. All you had to was to trigger each part of the process depending on what action your prospect took.
Without a system in place, your marketing is random at best. And random means you have no idea what works and what doesn’t. So when you don’t make the sales you expect, the only thing you can do is to blame yourself.
2) Stop generating leads and focus on the follow-up
Your marketing system is broken down into 5 core stages: lead generation, nurturing, sales conversion, delivery and repeat referrals. Most business owners focus their marketing efforts in the lead generation stage, spending time on social media, at conferences and networking events and maybe even paid advertising. But they rarely go beyond this first stage and give no thought to the follow-up; the nurturing process, the sales conversion and beyond.
When you are stuck on the marketing treadmill the only thing you do is to lead generate. You have to make sales so you have find new clients … find new leads … got to find new people to sell to.
It’s inefficient and highly exhausting. I have the adrenal fatigue hangover to prove this!
If you are in start-up mode then this is the place to spend your time and energy. But there comes a point that you have to get your head out of your to-do list and look strategically at your marketing.
Stop running on that treadmill. Stand still for a day or two and you’ll see the leads dripping through the holes in your lead bucket. That person who messaged you on LinkedIn about your proposal, still waiting to hear back from you. The dozen or so emails you sent out four weeks ago but never got a reply. The pile of business cards sitting in a pile that you collected at the conference two months ago.
Contacts and leads all waiting for you to do something with; to start nurturing with articles of interest or a video you’ve just recorded.
3) You can’t do it all yourself
No matter how small and beautiful you want your business, you can never and should never try to do it all yourself.
I have been a control freak in the past. I think it goes hand in hand with the push energy, seeking perfectionism and an urgent desire to get things done. I know that when I have been in this mode, I find myself too busy to delegate.
It’s quicker to do it myself. I need to learn this first before asking someone else to do it for me. I haven’t go the money right now to pay someone else.
It may not be quicker to delegate first time round but take the time to document your request for help, give clear instructions and make it a repeatable task, it will save you hours and hours in the future.
You don’t need to learn something to enable you to delegate, particularly when it comes to online marketing. Understand what you want to achieve and how it fits into your overall strategy but don’t waste your time watching a tonne of how-to videos on YouTube when someone else could do it for in a tenth of the time.
You can’t afford NOT to pay someone if you want to get off the treadmill and step up your game.
My advice is always to hire someone BEFORE you need them. Wait until you absolutely have to hire and you’ll find the time pressures you are under mean that you often abdicate rather than delegate, which often leads to frustrated cock-ups and the other person not delivering to your expectations.
If you want to play a bigger game, you have to have a team, even if that team is just a +1 to begin with.
4) Your vitality is critical to your business success
I’ve learnt to my detriment that push energy is not good for my health and wellbeing. And particularly for a woman-of-a-certain-age. I was blaming my fatigue and brain fog on menopause. I hit the wall two years after my dad’s death in 2012 and knew adrenal fatigue was probably to blame. But it wasn’t until this year that I realised I wasn’t taking my health as seriously as I should have been.
Re-engineering my business, putting in systems and building a team have all been important changes to helping me take a more strategic approach to my business. But a missing piece of the puzzle for me was the importance of vitality.
To make changes such as the ones I’ve made in my own business, you need stamina. You need a clear head (God, how I hate my brain fog & fatigue … sometimes weeks of frustration of feeling I’m living in an 80-year body!). And, most importantly I believe, you need to love what you do. Without a joie de vivre, your business is just a job. And I know you didn’t go do all this just to have a job, yes?
When so much marketing advice and courses are focused on push, promotion, getting the next lot of clients, it’s no surprising that so many of you get sick (and yes, quite literally) of following the “get clients now” approach month in and month out.
5) Successful marketing is an inside out job
The best systems and marketing funnels in the world will not work if you are not aligning yourself to the level you want to go in your business. My clients come to work with me because they want the practical, down to earth advice that I give. I teach marketing systems that incorporate digital alongside in-person conversations and traditional, offline communications (yes, stamps on a letter do work!).
But over the past year or more, my work has become transformational because of the inner work that we now do together. Understanding how your inner critic works and how your resistance kicks in as you start to charge more or work with a different level of clients. Your inner game is just as important – and sometimes more so – as the outer work that you put into your website, social profiles, content creation and marketing systems.
When you are pushing to get your marketing to work, you simply don’t give yourself any space to discover this power you have within you. And, believe me, this power is incredible once you begin to slow down.
It feels counterintuitive but when you allow yourself to slow down, you speed up and grow.
About the author
Karen Skidmore is a business mentor with 25+ years of experience, specialising in True Profit™; the design & growth of purposeful, profitable businesses. Business Books Awards finalist 2020 & podcaster, Karen uniquely combines the being-ness and doing-ness of business to help scale up, without burning out.
The first step in discovering the True Profit in your business is to take the True Profit Test.