You’re, no doubt, familiar with The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. With deep appreciation for the late Stephen R. Covey, I’m going to attempt to apply those seven habits to online marketing.
Covey’s book, first published in 1989 (long before there was such a thing as online marketing, mind you) has sold over 25 million copies and spawned a massive business empire, and for good reason. He consumed all of the self-help literature he could find and discovered that the primary focus of thought, at the time, was centered around personality. By digging back a bit farther in history, he found more focus on character. This, as I understand it, is where he drew his inspiration.
He put his particular bent on what he saw as universal principles, far deeper than personality, and named them the Seven Habits.
Since then, they’ve been reworked seven ways to Sunday and here I go again…
The Seven Habits of Effective Online Marketing
Habit 1: Be Proactive
Is this a coincidence? The Seven Habits came out in 1989 and what also came out in 1989 was the Kevin Costner movie, “Field of Dreams”. Since then, one of the most cliched phrases on the internet is a twist on the quote from that movie, “If you build it, they will come”. More specifically, it’s used to suggest that if this is your approach to generating customers, you might want to go get yourself a day job instead.
Look, they get increasingly complex, m’kay? Granted this one seems a little obvious. In order to get customers, stay in business and have any significant chance at success, you’re going to have to get yourself out there where people can find you and hand you their credit card.
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
Here’s where we start to put a bit of a finer point on it…
So many business owners go rushing headlong into this or that newest flavor of online marketing without first crafting a strategy. And I mean a long-term strategy, not “I wanna make more money and I want it now!”
If you looked five years into the future, what would you want your business to look like? New markets? New products? New venues? Where are they? How can you get there?
If you start by looking backwards from a far away dream, you can plan the steps it will take to get you to that place. When you do that, they become concrete, real actionable steps you can take every day, week, year.
Bonus: it incorporates Habit 1!
Habit 3: Put First Things First
Notice how these build on one another?
Once you have your long-term goal and the steps you need to take to get there, you can dispense with the things that don’t help that process.
Do you really need to master five social media outlets? Most likely you don’t. Use your analytics skills to figure out which one or two are driving the most traffic and dump the rest.
Do you really need to be in that local magazine? Probably not. But the only way to know is to test.
The larger point is to stop doing things that don’t help achieve your goals, just because that’s the way you’ve always done ’em.
Habit 4: Think Win-Win
Online marketing for services or products can start to seem like a one-way street after a while. You have something to sell, they give you money. Job well done, right? That all depends on your goals.
If the same exchange had lead to a provider/client relationship that lasted years and satisfied both sides of the equation, how much better would the world be?
If your primary motivation is, “How can I get more money out of these chump’s pockets”, you’ll never get to win-win. Ever.
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
OK, that might not have been fair. Really listen to your customers, clients, suppliers, all the people who will help you make your business indispensable to them.
Even better, really listen to the people who don’t find your business indispensable. They’re the ones with a real lesson to teach you.
Habit 6: Synergize
I have to admit, I don’t really care for this word. It’s been so overused throughout the last 25 years that it’s even one of the nouns in the Corporate BS Generator (get ready to lose 20 minutes of your life if you click that link).
Doublespeak aside, all it really means is that you can’t do this alone. Seek to cultivate relationships with others in your space. See if you can make an ally of an enemy.
Is there a way you can team up with your clients or customers to become greater than the sum of your parts?
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
This is my favorite.
It goes a little something like this:
A young man walking through the forest comes across a very frustrated and tired woodcutter straining to cut down a tree. The young man asks, “What are you doing?”
The young man asks, “What are you doing?”
“Are you blind?” the woodcutter replies. “I’m cutting down this tree.”
The young man, concerned, says, “You look exhausted! Take a break. Sharpen your saw.”
The woodcutter impatiently explains to the young man that he’s been sawing for hours and quite simply does not have time to take a break.
The young man pushes back… “But if you sharpen the saw, you could cut down the tree much faster.”
To which the woodcutter replies, “I don’t have time to sharpen the saw. Can’t you see I’m too busy?”
Sound familiar? We work so dang much, we’re wearing out our own finer edges. Take some time to relax, to learn a new skill, to work on your business, not in your business. Whatever it is that you’re putting off, start doing it now. Your taxes will still be there when you get back, as will the invoices, the emails, the to-do list. But your business will only improve with your renewed and refreshed focus.