Yesterday I ran my third NYC marathon and this year was by far the best both in my time and my enjoyment of the race.  I guess 3rd time’s a charm. :)

If you had talked to me back in 2008 (when I first started to run around the 1.5 mile reservoir), then I would have said 26.2 miles is crazy, and nearly impossible.  Even the idea of completing a half marathon didn’t seem like a realistic goal.  It was just too many miles.

But over time, that goal started to come into focus.  It didn’t happen overnight, but eventually the pieces fell into place and I finally felt ready to take on the challenge.

Marketing Lessons


Marketing is a Marathon (Not a Sprint)

When I look back at my experience training over the past 4 years I see a lot of similarities with marketing.  First of all, you can’t flip a switch and just turn on all of the different marketing channels (and expect them to work properly).  Just like you can’t decide to run a marathon tomorrow unless you’ve put in the required training.

But here’s what I find most interesting about the sport of running, and marathons in particular: according to research (that you can read all about in Born to Run by Christopher McDougall), humans evolved to run long distances as a form of hunting called persistence hunting.

That means we all have the capacity to run 26.2 miles.  I’m not saying you can compete with the pros, but you can complete a marathon if you put in the time to train.  And I truly believe every business can set up a profitable marketing system to drive leads and sales month after month.  Again, it’s not going to happen overnight, but you can there.



Break it Down Into Small Goals

Before you can run a marathon, you obviously need to be able to run a 5k, a 10k, and a half marathon.  Those are some of the more obvious goals for runners.  Once you complete a 5k (3.1 miles), then you’re well on your way to the 10k (6.2 miles).  Then if you eventually complete a half marathon, it’s not hard to see that you just need to do that twice.

As you complete those incremental goals, the next goal doesn’t seem so daunting.

With digital marketing, you need to focus on the next incremental step.  If you already have traffic channels set up like SEO or advertising, then focus on your website conversion.  If you don’t have a way to capture your prospects’ contact info (aka a “lead magnet”) then focus on building just that one piece of the puzzle.  Don’t think about the entire marketing system because that’ll just lead to frustration and overwhelm.


The First Time is Ugly

When you run your first race at a new distance, then be prepared to be a little disappointed in your time.  It’s probably not going to be pretty.  My first marathon was 4 hours.  My goal, like most first time marathoners was to break that 4 hour mark, so I wasn’t thrilled when I hit the wall at mile 20 and nearly crawled to the finish line.

But looking back, I now understand that it did not matter.  I had completed the race and now I could focus on improving.  That’s critical.

When you’re setting up new marketing campaigns, then again you need to be prepared to be a little disappointed at first.  Things typically don’t work right out of the gate.  Marketing requires tweaking and optimization.  But once you have something set up, then you can focus on improving!  And of course, you can’t improve if you have nothing set up…


Get Started – And Then Never Stop Improving

Since 2011, I shaved off nearly 30 minutes from my marathon time by putting my head down and focusing on incremental improvement.  If I had waited until everything was perfect and I felt like I could “crush it,” then I would have never run the race.

As I mentioned above, the most critical hurdle is to start, or launch the marketing tactic.  Whether it’s SEO, advertising, a lead magnet, email newsletter and follow up, social media, or any other tactic, focus on getting it launched asap.  Then transition to improving and optimizing.   The faster you launch, the faster you’ll optimize and reap the benefits from your marketing.


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