Running a business is hard.
Our viability depends on a steady stream of customers coming through our doors.
There are days when it seems like our competitors are beating us at every turn — for attention, for publicity, for those customers that we need to stay afloat.
There are billions of people all fighting for attention online.
Millions of companies are trying to push their message onto you, every minute you’re awake.
That’s the competition your business faces on a daily basis.
But too many businesses are relying on chance or happenstance to find customers. That isn’t going to cut it. Not when the vast majority of your customers are always in front of a screen of some sort. To win the battle for market awareness you need to go where your customers are.
Attention equals awareness. Awareness leads to credibility. Credibility leads to trust. Trust leads to relationships. Customer relationships mean sales.
Most businesses understand this, and have dipped their toe in the water of blogging or social media, but instantly pull back out because they didn’t see instant results. Hell, there are thousands of web professionals who have tried and given up too quickly, because they expected results to come pouring in like a flood plain after a torrential rain.
It’s tough to run a business, and growing a business is even tougher. But every army grows one recruit at a time. We need to celebrate those tiny wins and have gratitude for them.
Here, I’d like to show you something. This is a short video by Gary Vaynerchuk and the staff at Vayner Media.
This video highlights something that we lose sight of — something we take for granted. We are living in the first era in human history where we each have the potential to reach anyone — at anytime with our words.
Yet only 10% of all people on the web are taking advantage of this. And only 10% of those people are sticking with it. This means the majority of everything we consume on the web is produced by only 1% of the people online.
Why Isn’t This Number Larger?
The fact is most people are looking for the shortcut to getting to the top of the pile. They want to jump straight to being the top of the human pyramid — but that’s where everyone else wants to be, too.
Human Nature Is Funny
There’s a reason that people will waste over $5000 a month on AdWords that haven’t converted one sale, but will ditch any form of content marketing after four weeks because their traffic hasn’t spiked through the roof yet.
Throwing money at marketing is easy. Putting in sustained effort is hard.
Go back to that video, One is Greater Than Zero for just a second. There’s a line in here that I want to focus on.
Are you willing to take ten minutes to get 195 views?
— Gary Vaynerchuk
Are you kidding me? I’m happy to take an hour to get 19.5 views!
But a lot of people aren’t. And so they give up on content marketing. They give up on social media. They keep doing the same things they’ve always done, expecting different results…and we all know what that is.
I run into business owners every week that say they don’t have enough business coming in, but they also don’t have time to chit-chat on social media or publish answers to frequently asked questions from their customers.
So which is it?
Long Term Payoffs
Here’s a story.
About twelve years ago, YouTube was brand new. MySpace was still the dominant social network, but still focused on music. A fourteen year old Nashville singer spent hours each day talking to fans on these platforms. She had no record label yet, but she was building her fan base, old-school — grass-roots style. One. By. One.
They say in Nashville, everyone you meet is an aspiring musician. It’s a highly competitive industry in a city packed with competitors. She knew the only way to build a fan base was to be approachable, and talk to people one by one, and give her time and attention to them, so they would eventually support her.
Flash forward to 2015. The record industry is in shambles. Sales are in a historic decline. Yet this singer had the only platinum album of 2014, selling more in it’s first week than any album in the last twelve years.
The singer’s name is Taylor Swift. And you might say that one thing doesn’t have anything to do with another, but I believe you make your own luck. In order for you to win, people have to want to see you win. No one can get to the top unless everyone else in the pyramid wants to help them get there.
“That’s Fine For Them…”
That last story doesn’t apply to you? Well, here’s another story. There’s a guy named Marcus Sheridan. He owned a pool company. No offense if you work installing pools, but there doesn’t seem to a more boring subject you could possibly write about. Yet…his company ended up making $2.5 million in sales from one blog post and hundreds of thousands more from content marketing and blogging. About pools.
Why? Because no one else in that space was doing it.
So, if Marcus can write about installing pools, and generate millions of dollars from it, you have no excuses not to at least try to help other people by publishing. Share what you know. Answer the questions your customers are asking. Never skip the hard work of helping others by putting yourself out there.
Don’t look for the shortcut. It’s not there. But be grateful for every person who listens to you. That’s your future army.
Time For The Gratitude!
Some time ago, (sorry, I can’t remember the exact episode), my friend Adam Clark talked candidly about having gratitude for the followers he had. I can’t remember how many email subscribers he had at this point, but it was less than what he wanted. I’ll never forget what he said.
Adam said obsessing over numbers just makes us feel crappy about ourselves. There will always be someone bigger than us. But we need to focus on is speaking to the followers we do have. He expressed gratitude for the subscribers he had.
Not many months after that, his relaunched podcast, The Gently Mad, started doing impressive numbers. Causation or correlation? Who can say? The key is, he didn’t quit, and he kept focusing on the subscribers that he did have. He was genuinely grateful, and he built from there.
Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.
— Zig Ziglar
I think we truly underestimate how amazing it is whenever one person subscribes to our newsletter or shares our blog posts. We take it for granted when one person watches our videos on YouTube, listens to us on a podcast or follows us on social media. When time is the most valuable asset that each of us have, people are choosing to spend some of it listening to your words — that just blows my mind every time.
So when you feel discouraged that you’re putting good stuff out there and not enough people are showing up, don’t quit. Be encouraged by each person that does show up. These will be the future ambassadors of your company.
Know that uncertainty makes us want to change course. But nothing happens overnight. Stay the course and keep putting one foot in front of the other. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Be grateful for everything good that is happening to you, and more of that goodness will eventually follow.