Hoffman: Marketing success is a step-by-step experience

Sometimes we find inspiration and encouragement from the most unlikely places.

Last month, I was invited to a casual lunch and talk by a colleague. Even though my schedule is packed with meetings and obligations I RSVP’d yes. Lately, I’ve been working hard to say yes to as many invitations as possible as so often there are these unexpected moments of connection and insight that come from new and different experiences. I find tremendous value in the experience of the new.

The day of the event arrived, and I found myself hurrying to get there. I arrived just in time, met some people, and sat down to hear the talk and enjoy a casual lunch.

The talk was about walking The Camino in Spain and lessons learned from setting out to do this intense endeavor. If you are unfamiliar with The Camino, it is a 600-plus mile historic trail that crosses Spain. People, pilgrims really, have been walking The Camino for centuries and they have walked for all sorts of spiritual reasons. The speaker, Blaine Rada, offered a compelling account of his experience.

I took away a lot from the talk and some of the insights easily pertained to work, business, and marketing.

The Camino is a big undertaking. It is not easy. It can be discouraging. It also can be incredibly uplifting and encouraging. The act of undertaking it is a big deal.

You might see where I am going here.

Rada quoted Dwight Eisenhower who famously said, “Plans are nothing, planning is everything.”

Could there be truer words for life and for business? We plan and plan and then the plans might change and we continue to plan. Marketing requires this from each of us.

December is a time to make plans for the new year, but the plans might change because we will gain insights, hit roadblocks, have discouraging experiences, and continue to go forward. That’s what we must do. Eisenhower was completely right in this regard. Rada was wise to connect this quote with his ordeal walking the Camino. We, as marketers, should go forward with grace toward our efforts and plan as best we can, and continue planning as the months unfold before us.

In the new year, expect challenges. Perhaps you won’t have as much budget to spend on marketing. Perhaps the tactics you are trying yield surprising results. Continue to learn from and plan from these insights.

Rada talked about hard days walking up big hills and how he just learned to “lean into each hill.” That’s right, lean into the hard parts of the communications and marketing you are undertaking and give yourself the grace to try and try again. You will find a lot of success this way across the weeks and months.

Good, effective marketing and communications are a service you provide your audience. Of course, you are promoting your business but if you are skillful, and sincerely believe that you are, your outward marketing will feel like a gift you have to give. With kindness at its core and compassion for your customer, you can build enormously successful marketing campaigns.

People walking The Camino encourage each other in many ways. One of the simplest ones consists of a gentle greeting they offer each other, “Buen Camino” they say in conversation. Have a good walk.

Each marketer is walking to encounter customers and clients. How will you greet them? How will they experience you and your business? If you are planning, going forward with your encouraged efforts, and adjusting all along the way to various experiences and insights you are gaining in reaction to your efforts you’ll reach your ambitious goals.

To each small business marketer, I say “Buen camino!” You can do it! Ask for help from people like me when you need it and you will arrive at your goals and experience the delight of success that you so richly deserve.

Rebecca Hoffman is the founder and principal of Good Egg Concepts, a strategic communication and brand marketing consulting practice serving clients across the Chicago area and nationally.

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