We’re all familiar with the ups and downs of dieting and fitness goals. But have you considered how closely dieting and fitness map to the ups and downs of marketing campaigns...and why marketing campaigns sometimes fall just as flat as a failed attempt at dieting and exercise?
It takes time to see results.
It’s a new year and you know what that means… time for all the promises we make to ourselves to be a new, better us. That’s why this post made so much sense to publish now.
There are a variety of RogueTHINKers that contribute to the thought leadership found on this site. For the purposes of this post though I’m going to break from standard protocol here on RogueTHINK and speak to you as myself, about myself. This article is as much a testimonial as it is an exposition on what goes into running a successful marketing campaign. If you didn’t see that a real person did what I’m going to tell you, then this post would sound like so much theoretical fluff. It’s not. This is hardcore practice, with real results.
Get ready: There’s some serious metaphor action coming your way.
Fitness Gains, Fitness Losses
Hi. I’m Jared, strategist extraordinaire here at Rogue. I’m also, among many other things, a fitness fanatic. And in August 2018, I decided to focus on heavy weightlifting. When I laid down on a bench in early August, I put up 155 pounds in three sets of six to eight reps. By the beginning of November 2018—approximately 14 weeks later—I put up 255 pounds in three sets of six. And anyone who has ever bench-pressed anything knows that’s a huge amount of progress in such a short amount of time.
But before I started lifting heavy in August, I created a muscle building plan based on science, kinetics, and expert research.
Before I outlined a muscle building plan, I was already running regularly, with a weightlifting routine to support my running goals.
Before I peaked with running, I focused heavily on supplements.
Before the supplements, I dialed in my food intake.
And I did that for years.
If I tried to lay down on a bench one day in August without years of preparation, my body would not have been capable of handling that much progress that quickly. My muscles would have been incapable of repairing themselves fast enough for me to put in as much hard work as I did. I would have made progress—certainly. But not explosive progress. That kind of growth cannot come on quickly unless the entire body is optimized for it. A trainer could have helped me optimize my body faster, but a trainer does not allow me to side-step the process.
Progress, Maintain, Progress, Repeat
By mid-November, I thought I knew what the keys were to my success. After all, I’d been doing it for years. And I had other things to focus on. So I stepped off my programmed training and just did “the important stuff.” Four weeks later, I hadn’t made any progress. In fact, I had maintained in most other muscle groups, but I had actually lowered the weights again on my bench press.
That’s when I got back on my programmed training again. And sure enough, I started seeing progress again, though it’s not the same magnitude. I won’t see rapid improvement again for maybe another few months, and I certainly won’t be going from benching 255 to 355, because my body is not built to endlessly build and keep muscle.
Fitness happens in consistent plateaus, with sudden, explosive peaks. It does not happen in one consistent upward climb.
If you lose weight at a rate of a pound a day, you are just as likely to regain it at a pound per day. But if you lose 5, stall for two weeks, lose 3, stall for another week, and so on, then you are training your body to maintain a status quo. When it has settled into its new normal, regulated hormone production, and is comfortable with your new hunger cues, you are ready to step off again from there into new progress. If you fall off the wagon every time the numbers seem to stall, then you will never realize your goals.
All of what I just told you is practical knowledge—not theory. The same is true of what’s coming next.
How Can Marketers Prepare Campaigns for Explosive Growth?
Let’s not make logical leaps here: my success with weightlifting does not make me an authority on marketing. But my success with marketing makes me an authority on marketing, and my success in both allows me to help you reframe your thought processes and approach your 2019 goals with a fresh perspective.
If you lift too heavy, you’ll pop a hernia, tear your ACL, or even break your own back. That happens when you try to take on too much weight at one time without preparing the rest of your body for the load. The same is true of trying to max out your campaign volume. Even if it were the perfect campaign, is your website capable of handling the influx of visitors, or of meeting their expectations? Is your marketing automation set up to send the right emails that will maximize the return on your investment? Is your product delivery team ready for the volume? Campaigns can be too successful when the company isn’t ready, as in Sunny Co’s case back in 2017.
Here’s how to prepare your company and your marketing stack for explosive improvements, followed by consistent maintenance:
Just as your body has to absorb nutrients, your company must be able to absorb the leads it brings in.
- Content marketing (SEO, social media, etc.)
- Call platform & call tracking
Once leads come in, how are they being served? No campaign can be successful if the leads are not adequately processed.
- Marketing automation
- Lead nurture
- Product delivery
You need a system of support that is prepared to scale. If you are going to get the most conversions out of the higher volume a campaign will bring, these have to be in place and optimized. If not, then your system will simply get overloaded, and you may end up in worse shape than before.
- Landing pages
- Optimization (site, ads, nurture, automation, product delivery)
- Content marketing (SEO, social media, etc.)
Yo-yo diets and 4-week weight lifting schedules don’t keep you where you want to be. Similarly with marketing, you have to be able to maintain a certain level of ad spend, content creation and distribution, and customer success rates. Without them, you may as well whip out the Ben & Jerry’s and binge-watch your once-favorite 90s sitcom.
- Consistent ad spend
- Content strategy
- Customer success strategy
When you have the right elements in place, and you have tested them and brought them up to their maximum current capabilities, you’re ready to grow. But it’s not really about showing up at the proverbial gym (called Google, Facebook, and all the platforms) and lifting something. Growth is about methodical, planned tactics that complement each other.
“Every VC, every CEO, and every board of directors will demand that you maintain that rate of progress. But the real value is in creating a new normal.”
- Which “muscle group” are you trying to build? In other words, what audience segment are you trying to grow?
- What are the “compound lifts,” or distribution channels, you will coordinate to amplify the effect of the whole?
- What “weight” do you want to lift? In other words, what is the goal—with a numeric value—you want to get out of this campaign? You can overshoot, but you have to define what a successful number is to hit.
Maintain the New Normal
- Your audience can’t sustain rapid growth long term. It needs to settle into a new normal. You will hit a peak, come down off that top number a little, and then find a new equilibrium. Every VC, every CEO, and every board of directors will demand that you maintain that rate of progress. But the real value is in creating a new normal. When your maintenance levels are higher than they were 3, 6, or 12 months ago, you have not just run a popular campaign—you’ve created demonstrable change in your organization.
How to Know When You Need a “Trainer”
You’re smart. You can figure this stuff out. But sometimes you can’t break out of the latest plateau, even though you’re sure you have the system in place. Chances are, something in your system is out of alignment, and you just can’t see it. Or you’ve been doing the same ol’ bicep curl (read: run the same message, even if you’ve changed up the ad copy, to the same audience), and you need to change your stance.