by Creative/Marketing Consultant Leslie Burns-Dell’Acqua
The title of this article is a famous quote from Voltaire’s Candide. It can be translated as One must tend one’s (own) garden. And though Voltaire certainly was not concerning himself with issues in marketing, his words can serve us today. Marketing (and business) is very much like a garden.
Imagine your business as an overgrown, unlandscaped back yard. You go out there and mow it occasionally, and there is some stuff growing, but it’s not as beautiful as you want it to be. It’s just kind of there. One day, you decide to do something about it.
Now, you could try to get some (almost) instant gratification by calling in a landscaping service and they could bring in all sorts of plants and rip things up and plant stuff where they tell you they should go. You will have at most, a beginning, but probably more like an almost artificial looking space with perfectly spaced plants, but no soul. Certainly not your garden. And if you don’t take care of it, that space will quickly become an even bigger mess than what you started with.
Instead, I suggest you make your own garden, and, of course, tend it. You can hire someone to help, but it must be your vision first. Start by defining what you want it to be, what are your goals for your garden (business)? What is your vision? Once you have that, then you can plan out how and where to plant (that is, what tools to use in your marketing).
Then you plant, knowing that the tulip bulbs are planted in the fall but won’t bloom until the spring, and the rose bushes planted in the spring won’t bloom for months, and the bougainvilla won’t climb the arbor for years, and the trees won’t fill in for many years.
And so you wait. While you wait, you hoe, and weed, and fertilize, and water, and hoe again, and weed again, etc., over and over.
In your business, you work your plan: tweaking as needed, doing the research to find the best targets, building your lists, making the calls, sending the mailers and emails, updating your site, constantly making new work to “fertilize” it all with the best stuff you can (and please don’t equate fertilizer with crap–you want good stuff!). You send PR, schmooze clients, provide great service, go to meetings…you do all the weeding and watering your garden needs to thrive.
Over time you’ll see the flowers bloom. You’ll get new clients. Over longer time, you’ll get even better clients and better projects. Your vision for your business will slowly take root and grow.
But to do this, you must keep working the plan for the long term. Don’t expect to plant the seeds today and get the roses tomorrow. It takes time. Marketing isn’t fast, it is a slow building of recognition and desire. But if you are consistent with your marketing, if you weed and water regularly and make great “fertilizer”, you will get beautiful results–a successful business.