How Is Marketing Like Learning To Surf?

I’ve been thinking all day today about what to write about in today’s blog entry. True, I have a list of ideas I can write about, but it wasn’t until I was talking to my friend Dori online tonight that I had an idea that really grabbed a hold of me.

When I was a kid, I always wanted to learn how to surf. I remember going to Cape Cod every summer and, a couple times, watching my uncle go wind surfing and thinking it was SO cool, but I never got to learn. As I’m sure you can imagine, growing up in Rochester, NY, didn’t afford me many opportunities to go surfing , so now that I’m living in San Diego, I’ve been learning.

It’s hard.

It’s very hard.

I’ve been going almost every day for the past two weeks, and it can be pretty frustrating at times, but today, something clicked and I finally rode a wave! I’m not talking about just standing up and riding the whitewater into shore, I mean actually riding a wave (it was only for about five seconds, but still). Now, I’m sure that it’ll take some more time and practice before I actually get another one, but the point is that there was a momentary break in the clouds, a brief light at the end of the tunnel that I can focus on to summon the mental strength and will power to keep going.

Now how does this all relate to small business marketing? Good question.

This morning I was having a conversation about the need for realistic expectations in marketing, and while I was talking to Dori this evening, the connection hit me like a ton of bricks. Building a marketing campaign is exactly like learning how to surf (or do anything new for that matter). You have to give it the time it needs to click. Now obviously a marketing campaign is going to have a different timeline than learning a new sport or skill, but the idea is the same.

Whenever I take on a new client, I try to make sure that our expectations are all aligned, but no matter what kind of discussions we have at the onset of a new project or campaign, people still get frustrated, but the key is to stay the course. With any small business marketing campaign, obviously, we want results as soon as possible, but marketing is about building awareness, building a brand and building trust and that doesn’t happen overnight.

I’m sure that everyone has heard someone use the phrase “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” And that’s very true. Fast and dirty results might please you in the short term, but remember this is your business. You don’t want it to only last until the next deal closes. When you’re thinking about marketing your business you have to think long term.

In the meantime, keep looking for those small triumphs to keep you going. Stay the course; eventually you’ll find your wave.

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Posted in Thoughts.

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