If you ever tell yourself you need to do more with your marketing, yet never find time to do it, I have an excuse for you. Mind you, I’m not saying you should use this excuse. Rather, I’m bringing it to light so that you can identify whether it applies to you. Identifying what might truly be stopping you from making more time for marketing is the first step to finding a resolution.
I came across this particular excuse when a business associate shared something in a book called Switch, written by Chip and Dan Heath. The two authors analyze "how to change things when change is hard." What intrigued me was the tenet, proven by psychologists, that "self-control is an exhaustible resource." It means that when you’re highly focused on a task, you’re using up your supply of self-control. And as you do that, you’re becoming mentally exhausted, thereby increasing the difficulty of changing behavior.
An interesting example of mental exhaustion given by the authors involved two groups of students together in a room. One group was served radishes to eat. The other group received chocolate chip cookies. Afterward, both groups were asked to solve a puzzle. The radish-eaters, who had relied on self-control to keep from eating the cookies, spent less time trying to solve the puzzle. They gave up early because, mentally, they were more tired than the cookie-eaters.
Think about the times during a day when you’re highly focused. Planning inputs for the next growing season, attending a meeting with your lender and figuring out the cost-benefit analysis of a new piece of equipment – these are just a few examples.
What else requires focus? Marketing does.
Becoming a consistent, strategic and disciplined marketer takes time and forethought. It requires willingness to regularly prepare for whatever the market may do. Or, another way to look at it: marketing done well can be mentally exhausting. This is one reason we always recommend that, to take your marketing to a higher level, you need to either become an expert or hire one. When you’re an expert at something – like growing crops – you’re going to retain the ability to think or to push forward in the face of a challenge long after a person struggling with the same task gives up.
So there, for the taking, is your excuse: mental exhaustion. You may be mentally wiped out and thus unable to do more with your marketing. It’s legitimate. When mentally exhausted, doing anything that requires focused thinking is difficult.
Of course, the book isn’t about making excuses. It’s about how to change things. If you truly want to do more with your marketing, something may need to change. The good news: usually, the more difficult the change, the bigger the eventual reward.
There are many ways to take a tiny first step that can put you on the path to improvement. For instance, do a self-assessment of your marketing strengths and weaknesses. Or attend a workshop, where you can pick up useful marketing strategies (you also might decide it’s time to become an expert or hire one). However you go about it, honestly assess how much time, energy and discipline you have. If you can make the necessary commitments, you can do marketing well.
Scott Stewart is president and CEO of Stewart-Peterson, a commodity marketing consulting firm based in West Bend, Wis. You may reach Scott at 800-334-9779, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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