Marketers: Stop Trying. Start Committing.
"I'm trying this new diet and..."
I hear this all the time. Even more so here in Boulder, the city where world class athletes mingle with the common folk and an outsider would never be able to tell which is which. This is the town where, when I rock climbed in Raleigh, NC, I was one of the better in-shape guys in the gym. In Boulder, I'm the fat kid.
When I overheard this person briefly mention they were trying a new diet, it reminded me of the experiments I've done in fitness and nutrition. What I realized was this:
You will almost never get the results you want from "trying," but you will from steadfast commitment.
Trying isn't "bad." In fact, if you want solely to experiment with experiencing things for yourself, trying can be great way to do this at a low cost.
But that's the thing that people don't always realize. The low cost of trying doesn't actually reflect the results you can get with a full commitment.
In terms of dieting, doing the cyclical ketogenic diet, if you try it for a week, you can lose five pounds. But you'll gain it back when you come out of ketosis. It's not until the second week of trudging through low energy levels because your body is fighting its desire to go into fat-burning survival mode that you actually begin burning fat and not just cut water weight. And if you've ever done a ketogenic diet with intense cardio, you know it's a commitment and not something you just "try."
There's a saying that "the map is not the territory." Trying can give you a taste of what the map looks like, but you should never confuse it for the territory of mastery.
If you want to make trying useful, keep in mind that you are only getting a small taste of the commitment to mastery in this particular domain. If you want to "try" a new link building technique, or "try" some new content strategy, or "try" more inbound marketing practices, etc, do so in the context of it leading into a deeper commitment.
If you're learning a new body of knowledge, research it, then "try" some things out, then use your experience in those trials to choose a direction of commitment.
The Antidote to "Trying"
The antidote to trying - the antidote to the trap of believing you're making progress without steadfast commitment - is a commitment to mastery.
If you look around our online marketing world, it's easy to see how we fit into two groups: those who are "trying," and those who are committed to the craft of marketing.
Those who are "trying" are looking for quick fixes and hacks. But the real psychosis is when you believe the exceptions are the norm. Yes, exceptions are a part of the rule, but they are at the ends of the bell curve, not the middle. To continue striving for results that fit only at the ends of the bell curve, interpreting luck and chance and perfect timing as always available, is the utmost disrespect of the commitment to a craft and will rarely, if ever, yield results. Surely, at the very least, those who do this won't achieve consistent results.
But when you commit to the craft of marketing, you will have been here longer, you will have produced more tangible results, you can objectively communicate those results, and you have also "tried" a lot. Your knowledge of SEO and link building and content marketing will come from experience, not how you "think" things work. And you won't confuse your trying with your commitment.
"Trying" can be part of a steadfast commitment, but only when you have first declared and chosen that commitment. If you want to gain mastery in a new area of marketing, let's say link building, this is the process that I've found over the years to work best. Don't take my word for it, though. Find what works for you.
- Collect as much information as you can on link building: What are the tips? What are the techniques? What are the strategies? Who are the experts? What are the results people are getting? Which results are outliers and what results are realistic?
- Begin to see the patterns in the art of link building: Which tips are most recommended and have been for the longest period of time? What are the core messages of each of the experts?
- Find your link building style: Which experts, messages, and strategies resonate most with you? Are you a link builder through content marketing? Or data analysis? Or relationships?
- Find the expert that resonates most with you: Study that expert as though they were your mentor. If you can, contact them asking for specific advice.
- Try some things out that fall in line with your chosen expert/mentor: Get a feel for which strategies really do work best for you, which ones produce hints of results, etc.
- Commit to the path: If you're a link builder through content, write ever day for a year. If you're a link builder through data analysis, analyze by hand 5,000 link prospects a week. If you're a link builder through relationships, build three new relationships a week and cultivate three more.
- Refine: In every process of continual improvement, from Six Sigma to Lean to Agile, you must analyze the results you are getting and fold this feedback into your commitment to your path. Repeat your commitment and refinement until you've achieved your desired results. Then set new goals.
If you want to "try out," the idea of Mastery, read this short book by George Leonard.
If you are committed to the idea of Mastery, read this more thorough book by Robert Green.