Stephen Covey talks about this anology in his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People:
What are you doing?’ you ask.
‘Can’t you see?’ comes the impatient reply. ‘I’m sawing down this tree.’
‘You look exhausted!’ you exclaim.
‘How long have you been at it?’
‘Over five hours,’ he returns, ‘and I’m beat! This is hard work.’
‘Well, why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen that saw?’ you inquire. ‘I’m sure it would go a lot faster.’
‘I don’t have time to sharpen the saw,’ the man says emphatically. ‘I’m too busy sawing!’
When it comes to business, we’re all busy.
I ask clients who don’t blog, or do newsletters, or update their website, or develop a marketing plan…why? The answer is always honest. And it’s almost always the same. They are too busy. They are too busy working IN their business to work ON their business.
What can you do to sharpen your marketing saw? Here are four thought- starters:
1) Commit to organizing your database. Your database of customers is the single most important thing you have as a business owner. Once you have a contact management system or some sort (computerized, with name, address, phone, email), exportable to an excel spreadsheet, you’re set.
Y our database is part of the foundation of all the marketing you do. And probably most of the referrals you get.
2) Reading good literature. The average American reads four books a year. Don’t be average. Reading will give you insight and perspective. I am currently re-reading one book: Permission Marketing (by Seth Godin) and reading another: The God Questions (by Hal Seed and Dan Grinder).
3) Brainstorm Brown Bag. Set aside a lunch hour (once per month) for a brainstorming session at your office. Everyone brings their own lunch. The challenge is pre-determined…what new ideas can we use, what’s working, how are you handling this objection. You get the idea. Hint: Rule one of brainstorming…no idea is judged during the session.
4) Seminars and workshops. Most of us do professional development or continuing education. That’s great. But also try something outside the norm of your business life. You can probably relate it back. I recently took a 4-week meditation class from Kelly LaVine that was outside my “norm” and really enjoyed it.
Abraham Lincoln said this: Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. He was a pretty smart guy.
Chris Mitchell is the President and Founder of 25-8 Marketing, Inc, a full service advertising agency in Elk River, Minnesota. He plans and implements marketing programs for small to medium-sized businesses. Mitchell is a consultant, speaker and author and has worked with hundreds of companies. He has over 20 years of real-world advertising experience, and understands the marketing challenges of the small business owner.