Both of my parents are from Iowa.  In fact, most of my extended family still lives there.  Now, if you’re not from the Midwest, then you’re probably picturing a farm surrounded by rows of corn and soybeans.  Everyone lives on a farm in Iowa right? :)

Well, you would actually be correct.  My parents literally lived on a farm before they moved out to my hometown of Westfield, MA.  The reason this is an important fact is because it should prove my dad’s expertise in the field of horticulture. And that knowledge was graciously passed down to me through my years of planting, hoeing, watering, picking, and rototilling in my dad’s “garden.” It wasn’t so much a garden as it was a mini farm in our backyard.

I’ve almost forgotten everything I learned now that I live in New York City, but a few lessons have stuck with me. Two in particular can (and should) even be applied to your marketing this year.


Why It’s So Hard to Kill Weeds

The worst thing you can do when you’re pulling up weeds is tear them off at their base.  If you do that, then in a few days you’ll find yourself staring at that same weed again.  You can’t just chop off their stem.

To really kill a weed by hand, you have to grab the base firmly and make sure you pull all of the roots out of the ground.  If you only get half of the root system, then again, you’ll probably be staring at that weed in only a few days.  Weeds, just like most other plants, create a strong network of roots underground that will continue to send shoots above ground until the root system is destroyed.

In business, your root system is your marketing system.  A strong, healthy marketing system looks a lot like the roots of a plant.  First of all, there should never be just one root. Healthy plants have dozens, or even hundreds of roots shooting out in all directions. The roots anchor the plant so it doesn’t fall over and they also provide life sustaining nutrients.

That’s how your marketing system should look as well.  Stable businesses do not rely on just one source for leads and sales.  They have multiple sources both online (advertising, SEO, social media, email marketing, etc.) and offline (radio, TV, print, direct mail, etc.).  These “roots” ensure your business doesn’t crumble during market downturns, and they of course provide life-sustaining leads and sales.  In other words, you want to establish a marketing system that makes your business as hard to kill as those weeds I painstakingly pulled in my dad’s “garden.”


Too Much Water Is A Bad Thing

Everyone knows plants need water to survive.  What’s not as obvious is that too much water will actually drown a plant.  Did you know that?  Sounds crazy the first time you hear it, but it’s true.  Plants can overdose on water.  Plus, if you’ve ever watered a plant then you know that, after a certain point, the water will start to overflow because the plant can’t “drink it up” fast enough.  So you end up with a wet table and floor.

In business, your water is prospects from website traffic, phone calls, and in-office/store visits.  You need prospects to keep the lights on.  But like water, if you get too much, then it turns into a bad thing.  For example, one of my friends runs a physical therapy clinic in New York City, and he decided to offer a Groupon deal to generate more leads.  He was almost instantly flooded with prospects, but he didn’t have the staff to handle all the new business.  The new customers and the existing customers didn’t get the attention they needed, so in the end, my friend calculated that he actually lost money.  Most of the new customers didn’t stay and many of the neglected old customers left as well.

The moral of the story is to avoid over-watering your business.  Too many leads can actually be a bad thing if you and your staff aren’t prepared.  For every new marketing campaign, make realistic projections for leads and double-check that you can handle it.  Whenever possible, it’s always a good idea to ramp up marketing campaigns to give you enough time to staff up.