I like running marathons because they help my leg muscles look fantastic (among many other reasons).
At Casilio Communications, I encourage my clients to run “Business Marathons” when approaching their marketing. As I begin the early stages of training for marathon number six, I’ve realized a few uncanny parallels between preparing for the road race and the business race. Here’s the process:
- Pick a date and determine what you would like to achieve by that date. On October 26th I would like to run 26.2 miles, under four hours in order to match my 2012 Marathon time. Where would you like to grow your business and by when? Is it the number of Likes on your Facebook page? Higher rankings on Google? Increase in the monthly average of new customers? How many? By when? Why? What is your goal?
- Create a training program. My goals and expectations are challenging, yet attainable. I know I won’t win the race, but I know what time I want to hit for my personal victory. So I plan a strategy on how to hit my goals. Mileage is just a part of the training program. I plan on what shoes to wear, how many times I’m going to drink, what I’m going to eat, how I’m going to tackle hills, etc. What’s your budget? Your ideal customer (or target demographic)? Your message? Your brand strategy? How many tactical ads (hills) will we incorporate in your overall campaign strategy (total run)? Return on investment (How great will your leg muscles actually look)? Don’t injure your business trying to grow too fast, or overlook an important aspect of your overall strategy.
- Run a smart race. When you run a marathon, you have to consider the entire 26.2 mile course as soon as you cross the start line. If you’re out of breath at mile 1, miles 2 – 26 are going to be hell– if you even make it that far. Too many times I’ve seen clients sprint the first mile. They want to cross the finish line as soon as possible for instant gratification, instead of sticking to the strategy of keeping a steady pace to ensure eventual longterm success. Do you want to win the first mile, or the entire race? Do you want a million dollars now or 26.2 million dollars later? There are a lot of different ideas, sales, and opportunities that make sense for your business. But it’s easy to run off course if you don’t stick with your plan and keep your focus on the big picture of that final goal you’re setting out to accomplish.
My favorite part about running the actual marathon isn’t crossing the finish line; it’s the people. Even though we all have our individual goals, we’re also cheering for each other. We pace each other, we complain, and occasionally have minor side-talk that temporarily distracts us from the challenge (Belinda and Mandy are two friends I met in the midst of a distance race, and we still keep in touch). There’s also the people helping you in small ways that lead to big results: handing you water, standing on the side ringing a cowbell, cheering for you to keep up the good work.
In business, you need people to run with you. You need people to hand you water. You need people to ring a cowbell.
I encourage you to not be afraid to find somebody to talk to about the tough times, find people to motivate you, or show you a different perspective. Acknowledge your weaknesses, and find an outside talent to help you through those challenges. Handling something you have no business tackling (such as marketing), may seem small, irrelevant, or a “cost saver” at the time, but it could hurt your big picture because it’s not done the right way.
I hope we can run a business marathon together. A marathon might sound daunting, but together we’ll identify a goal, create a strategy, stay the course, win the race, and savior the victory together.