So last weekend I got suckered by a sweet, adorable 4-legged furry Boston Terrier – Chihuahua mix puppy. I decided to stop by an adoption event, and the combination of his adorable face with his loving personality melted my heart. He had been on the streets, close to dying, but was rescued by Mixed Up Mutts and was nursed back to health. After spending some time with him in the morning and again in the afternoon, I brought him home with me and named him Ralphie.
The last week has been full of fun and frustrations. It's been a long time since I've had a puppy, and I forgot how much work they can be. Then it hit me yesterday – raising a puppy requires the same qualities and characteristics as running an effective business marketing program.
- Requires vigilance – You have to constantly watch over a puppy. Left alone for a few moments and you end up with chewed wires, scratched doors or other special brown "gifts." Same goes for your marketing. With constant vigilance over your progress and results, you can better assess what's working and what isn't.
- Requires consistency – If I let Ralphie on the couch today but say "no" tomorrow, it will leave him confused and delay his training process. If this month you send a news release, next month you write one blog, then later decide to tweet for a day, your impact will be very small. Instead, choose a few things you know you can do consistently and master them.
- Requires patience – It would be awesome if I could show Ralphie a trick once and he would learn it, but that's not going to happen. It may require weeks of practice, and during that time, it can feel like nothing is happening. Same applies to marketing campaigns. Research shows it now takes 15 impressions to break through the clutter, up from seven just a few years ago. So while you are plugging away at your campaigns, keep in mind you will have to be patient while you're building up those impressions, but results are happening.
- Requires swift actions – When Ralphie does something good or bad, I must react quickly to either praise or correct him. If I delay, he will not make the connection between his action and my reaction. Sometimes marketing opportunities arise that require you to make decisions quickly, such as a great PR opportunity. At the same time, quick corrections can help you avoid costly mistakes.
- Expect surprises (good and otherwise) – I've had a few surprises in the last week. Like when Ralphie decided to growl loudly at 3:30am for 30 minutes. Turns out a pillow had fallen in front of his kennel and he thought it was a threat! Unexpected things can happen in marketing, so it's best to expect the unexpected. Sometimes the tiniest thing will yield huge results, and other times a big expensive campaign will not get the traction you were hoping for. It's the nature of marketing – there simply is no crystal ball.
- It's fun, rewarding and worth it - All in all, even though puppies are a lot of work, in the end it's a highly rewarding experience to own one. The cute things they do coupled with the unconditional love they give makes the frustrations seems very small. And good marketing will reward your business handsomely, and hopefully be a thrilling ride along the way.
So with some patience, persistence and quick reflexes, you too can master the art of business marketing and raising puppies. Anything I missed? Feel free to share in the comments below.