This post is a reprint of an article recently published in the American Society of Appraisers Business Valuation E-Letter (Issue 14-38, 9/22/10). It has gotten a great response which is nice because it was easy to write. I feel strongly about the topic and the true story related in the article was the inspiration I needed. I hope you enjoy it.
What is more important in marketing efforts: a new system, process, piece of hardware or software or plain ole’ consistency?
Let me tell you a true story. There were two investment bankers working a narrowly defined industry niche with lots and lots of companies in that niche. One was older and very successful in generating new business. The other was younger and not so successful in generating new business.
The younger professional smartly asked the older one the secret to his success. The answer was simple, he was told. The older professional identified three new prospects every Monday morning and every Monday afternoon sent a pitch book to each. He spent a block of time mid-day following up on past pitch books sent. He recorded the day’s activities in longhand on a legal pad and repeated these activities every Monday.
So, did the younger professional take the advice of the older one and begin a prospecting program such as his? No. Why? He tried to emulate the system but said that, in the end, it just wouldn’t work for him. Again, why? Recording the activities on a legal pad was too cumbersome and he had tried several technology solutions but none of them worked for him. So, the younger professional decided to become a business appraiser because surely that must be the easier path to success.
And so it goes.
Why is consistency so hard? Because doing the same thing consistently week after week, or month after month, or year after year, is beyond boring. It’s mind-numbing. It feels like it is soul-killing. Yet, it can be your secret weapon.
Keep in mind that I’m not talking about consistently doing the wrong things. Rather I am talking about the importance of consistently doing those things that have proven to provide a return for your efforts.
I have been in the business valuation profession for over 25 years. I often ponder why some professionals and/or firms have longevity and success and why others who seemed so promising years ago turned out not to be. I have realized that one of the attributes of success for these professionals and/or firms is consistency. Consistency in their marketing and business development activities. Consistency in staying on message. Consistency in quality. Consistency in training. Consistency in follow up. Consistency in so many things.
Another hard truth about consistency is that you can’t really measure its impact in a short time period. Years of consistent effort yield the greatest results and it takes literally years to see those results clearly. Our CEO, Chris Mercer, talks about the “magic of compound interest.” There is magic in compound consistency.
The myth of consistency is that it means being unwilling to change. Let me debunk that. Unwillingness to change or embrace new ways of doing things or a new technology has nothing to do with consistency. For example, it is a marketing best practice to communicate with your market on a consistent basis. Twenty years ago, that meant a printed piece. Today, that means an e-mail or a touch via social media. The best practice hasn’t changed just because the tools have.
The younger professional in my story chose what was, in the end, a much harder path to success. If he had consistently done what seemed to him too cumbersome, maybe even too boring or too pedestrian, he would likely have seen success in time.
The next time the idea of doing what you’ve been doing for years bores you to tears, get over it. If it works, do it. Then do it again. Then do it again and again. Over time, you won’t regret it.