The leads and customers you get this month may not come from something you did this month, but rather something that you did last month, last year or even five years ago. Our expectations are that our marketing and sales efforts will be rewarded in a timely fashion. But the reality is quite different.
The following graphic, courtesy of Rand Fishkin, SEO Moz (“Gap of Disappointment“) illustrates exactly what I am talking about. During the honeymoon phase of an initiative, promising results are achieved, but this is often temporary. You sell your new software product to 2-3 companies you already have a relationship with. The list company sends you a sample, which gets great response. A few contacts congratulate you on your new blog. You think, “I am off to the races” and you mentally prepare for the new house, promotion, peer recognition, etc.
However, despite these early successes, you are about to enter the gap of disappointment. For a period of weeks or months (sometimes years) you find yourself putting out a lot of effort without achieving commensurate results. The natural tendency is to flee and stop doing that which is both painful and ineffective. So what’s to be done when you face the dreaded gap of disappointment? Having faced it more than once, I offer you these suggestions.
- Be realistic. You have often heard that marketing and sales is a numbers game. While this is true, it doesn’t mean the numbers will always fall in a set pattern. For instance, a .333 hitter in baseball doesn’t get a hit every three times he is at the plate. He may get four hits in a row one game and go hitless for many games afterward. Time and intention have a tendency to normalize the numbers.
- Get off your rear. The gap of disappointment can cause otherwise smart people to slip into inactivity. I’ve often talked about the principle of “practical serendipity.” My blog post, Actions Trump Ideas in B2B Marketing and Sales, addresses this. It is critical to keep putting yourself, your product and your company in a place where good things can happen.
- Keep swinging. I know of one marketing services company that decided they needed to start blogging. They wrote six different posts on six different topics, all published within one week. That was three years ago. Yep, you guessed it – nothing since. How do you feel as a client or prospect visiting this company’s website? Are they going to do one campaign for you and sit back and watch the results flood (more likely trickle) in?
- Be consistent. One of my core marketing tenets is that consistency is more important than creativity. When the gap hits, don’t immediately change your marketing and sales strategy, messaging or business model.
- Realize that it’s often darkest just before the dawn. This is not just the title of an Emmylou Harris song, but also an idiom that applies to many situations. You can be in the deepest part of the gap, the phone rings and you close your biggest deal. Or make a minor tweak to a campaign and the response doubles.
We all hear about the so-called overnight successes and lament the fact that things just seem harder for us. But when you scratch the surface, even these incredible victories are the result of a lot of effort and setbacks we can’t see. I hope you don’t have to face too many gaps of disappointment, but when you do, consistency and perseverance will bridge the gap.