‘Hey have you seen this?’
My husband was staring at his iPad, looking worried.
‘Mmmmmfff,’ I replied, mouth full of the butteriest, flakiest croissant known to (wo)man.
It was 9.15am in our stone gite in deepest rural France, less than two weeks ago.
‘It’s not looking good for quarantine. If they announce it tonight and we leave tomorrow, it’s gonna be too late for us to get home in time. It’s a hell of a drive. Maybe we should leave today, just in case…’
‘Hmmm,’ I countered, ‘Quarantine might not happen and if we leave now we risk losing two days of holiday for nothing.’
We grabbed the kids and together wrote a list of pros and cons of staying put.
It looked something like this:
PROS: Pool ?, sunshine ?, salty butter, fresh baguette, glazed strawberry tarts ?, Cremant sparkling wine?, don’t potentially waste holiday ?
CONS: 2 weeks’ quarantine with kids on our return ?, 2 weeks’ quarantine with parents on our return ???
Eventually the prospect of two long weeks cooped up together overcame the power of patisserie: That’s it! We’re leaving, NOW!
For the next few hours we swept like tornados through the cottage, lobbing stuff into suitcases. (‘Clean? Dirty? Who cares!’)
As we were leaving, our neighbour in the next door gite stopped us.
‘Oh, you’re leaving already?’
We explained we were worried about quarantine measures.
‘It won’t be announced tonight,’ she said, with a knowing smile. Apparently she had ‘insider info’ on the government’s decision-making.
Now we felt a bit silly. We were being too cautious. Too careful. Darn it.
But the kids were already in the car, wedged in by deflated lilos, boxes of wine and cool bags. We weren’t sure we could get them out even if we wanted to.
So we left.
And thank god we did.
The announcement did come later that day. We made it home hours before the quarantine deadline, feeling sad for those that got stuck but (whisper it) pretty smug we’d made the right call.
So why am I telling you this story?
Well, it occurred to me that it’s a bit of a metaphor for marketing and personal branding.
Just like I worried about the downsides of leaving France, in marketing we often focus too much about the risks of promoting our business or ourselves, rather than the gains.
- What if people don’t like it/me?
- What if I say or do the wrong thing?
- What if I spend money in the wrong places?
- Perhaps it’s better to do nothing for now…
And, like our gite neighbour, there’s often a ‘helpful’ person waiting in the wings, just dying to tell you why you should stay in your box, just like them.
But sitting tight is rarely the answer. Taking action almost always is.
In fact, it’s often far riskier to do no marketing or self promotion, especially in the current market. It’s time to be more visible than ever.
Over the past few months I advised all my clients, whether businesses or individuals in organisations, to keep gently plugging away at their marketing and personal branding, even if no-one was biting.
And now that the market is recovering a little, they’re reaping the rewards. They’re first in line when customers or senior stakeholders need help.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:
The most effective marketing isn’t the most expensive, sophisticated or fancy. It’s the marketing that actually sees the light of day.
And September is always a great time to take action.
If you’re feeling stuck and still in sunlounger mode, here’s a suggestion to get you started:
- Write a list of 10 internal or external clients you need to strengthen relationships with.
- Come up 5 ideas for each contact that you think might help them in their work or their lives – an introduction to a supplier; a way for them to increase their profile; a project that you could work on together; an article, book or movie recommendation…you get the idea
- Book in catch-ups with them for the first week and second of September to share your ideas (before they get bogged down in the day-to-day)
It’ll get you back to school with a bang and cook up some juicy new opportunities. Let me know how you get on!