Stop worrying about marketing and simply do fewer things better


A quick glance at my Twitter timeline is a salutary lesson in my personal inadequacy. Thanks to the various gurus I follow I now realise how woefully short of my peers’ achievements I am falling.

In the last hour alone I should have taken the opportunity to:

  • Learn about WhatsApp’s pricing model and why I should use it too
  • Find out what MacDonald’s CEO did wrong
  • Show my boss how my social media is affecting the bottom line
  • Discover a 4 step process for writing blogs
  • Make data driven decisions
  • Implement 10 digital hacks* every marketer should know
  • Adopt 6 awesome online marketing tools I probably don’t use but definitely should
  • See 5 things I really should know about social media
  • Start tracking 17 essential content marketing metrics today
  • And more…

Frankly, it is ridiculous to think you can keep on top of this in any meaningful way. And yet we keep favouriting those Tweets and bookmarking those webpages with the sworn intent of reading them later.

It’s the twenty-first century equivalent of the towering pile of PostIt note tabbed management and trade journals some people used to gather beside their desk; an unsteady monument of guilt and insecurity.

Insecurity? Indeed. Because we collect those tweets, bookmarks and magazines for fear of missing out on that one idea or initiative that will secure our position as a successful business person and worthwhile human being.

I want to make four suggestions:

  1. Your ‘to read’ pile (whether real or virtual) will never get read.
  2. Its very existence creates a constant subconscious stress that makes you less effective.
  3. Unless you’re a multinational behemoth with a large team of marketers, the marketing that will make the biggest difference for your business right now is likely to be fairly basic.
  4. If you’re anxious about how overwhelming marketing seems you’re almost certainly overcomplicating it.

The fact is, until you get your marketing basics in place the highly technical recommendations of growth hackers, social media gurus and Web 3.0 developers are nothing more than a distraction**.

And what do I mean by marketing basics? Over forthcoming blogs I’ll describe a simple model that will help you create an integrated approach to getting leads and subsequently more sales.

For the moment, if you cannot answer yes to the following, I respectfully suggest you don’t need to stress too much about where the CEO of a fast food multinational may have made mistakes.

  1. Do you have brand? I don’t mean a logo and visual identity (although that helps) but an idea of what your organisation does and stands for.
  2. Do you have a short marketing plan that summarises what you want to achieve over the next year and the marketing channels you will use?
  3. Do you have a clear idea (or even a general idea) of who you want to target?
  4. Do you know why prospects should choose you over and above other suppliers and can you articulate it in a compelling way?
  5. Do you have a database of contacts and clients?
  6. Have you got a website that can be easily found, is updated frequently and which offers visitors the ability to register their interest in you? (And does it look okay on mobile phones and tablets?)
  7. Do you have a way of keeping in touch with your database regularly?
  8. Do you ask clients and contacts for referrals, testimonials and case studies as a matter of course?
  9. Do you have a way of measuring the results of your marketing?

Of course you can set up a Twitter account if you like. Naturally you can read about SEO if you have the time. I’m not advocating the idea that anyone should pursue a policy of ignorance.

What I am saying is – for your own mental health – do not worry about getting left behind. If you get your organisation to a point where you can say yes to all 9 questions above you will be well ahead of many organisations you’ll come across and critically most, if not all, your competitors.

* As an aside, when did ‘tips’ become ‘hacks’? Probably around the same time that ‘fairly interesting’ became ‘awesome’ or (Lord help us) ‘kickass’. Sadly as most online copy seems to be written by computers attempting to emulate 17 year old Californian coders this tend seems set to continue. 

** Short blogs enforce broad brushstrokes on the author. Any tips that give you an extra 0.5% or so advantage are immensely useful (particularly if you deal with big numbers).  But it makes sense to complete those activities that get you 10 and 20% first doesn’t it?