What do you think you need more than anything else to attract more of your ideal clients?
Many people will say, "better information to show me how to do what works."
Others will say, "more motivation and drive to implement what I already know."
Another common answer is , "more time to fit marketing activities into my schedule."
And lots of people will say, "I need better goals and more clarity about what I want to achieve."
In writing this ezine / blog for the past 20 years I've talked about the importance of all of those.
But I'm finally understanding a factor that is much more important: good habits.
Over the past year, I've been a big advocate of the writings of James Clear. He writes a blog about success and habits. And he just came out with his first book, Atomic Habits, which is fantastic.
Even though James isn't a marketing expert, I'm convinced he's right when he says that the ultimate determinant of success is building positive habits.
This idea is simple but true: Self-employed professionals who establish regular marketing habits have a much better chance of succeeding than those who don't.
And the crazy thing is that the four items – information, motivation, time, and goals – I mentioned above don't actually make a huge difference.
Information. These days, we have access to more information about marketing than ever before in history. And much of it is free and instantly available through a Google or YouTube search.
The problem is that most of us have not established a regular habit of studying what we need to know to become better marketers. The information is useless unless we become proficient at implementing it.
And even if we pay good money for courses and programs, much of it goes to waste. I just learned recently online that 97% of people who buy a course online never complete it.
Motivation. If we measured motivation by intention, we are all motivated. Don't we all want and need to grow our businesses? But we keep getting distracted and don't follow through on our intentions. Again, the issue is poor habits.
Time. If only we had more of it. But unsuccessful marketers have just as much of it as the most successful ones. The key is that they dedicate more time to implementing regular marketing habits.
Goals. Nothing wrong with goals except that they are only a starting point for success. And they can get us stuck in the future, instead of doing what needs to be done today – the routine marketing habits that we perform every day or week.
"A habit or system beats a goal every time." – James Clear
The research is in and the conclusion is clear.
Establishing positive and consistent marketing habits have a bigger impact on marketing success than anything else.
We may have great information, high motivation, lots of time, and clear goals, but unless marketing activities are performed regularly and habitually, the chances of success are slim to none.
The question you should be asking is, "How do I start establishing better marketing habits?"
James's Atomic Habits goes to great lengths to share a multitude of ways to become an expert habit practitioner. So I highly suggest you get his book. It could be the most valuable 'marketing' book you'll ever read.
But let me also give you my perspective on what it takes to establish new marketing habits.
The C – SPAT Model
This is a model I came up with for one of my marketing programs.
Coaching or Context. A coach declares the game, how it is played and how to win at it. And this creates the context in which you play the game. It helps if you have an outside source that can hold you accountable to play by the rules necessary to succeed.
This principle is why when you're working with a coach or in a program that you suddenly find it's easier to take action and form positive habits. The context of the game helps shape your behaviors.
Notice that all professionals such as doctors, lawyers, and accountants go through rigorous training in the form of a professional school and internship. And in this context, professional habits and protocols are established.
As independent professionals, we'd all prefer to do things on our own, charting our own direction. That's nice, except that it doesn't always work very well, does it?
Study. A big part of the game is study and learning the body of knowledge necessary to perform effectively. Again, the information required to be an effective marketer is readily available, but you need some assistance in sorting the wheat from the chaff and studying what is most useful.
Planning. All successful marketing needs a plan. The alternative is implementing random marketing activities with little structure and direction. So it's not how much you know, but how you put what you know into action.
Action. Success doesn't come from being busy or doing a lot of things, but in doing the right things at the right time. This is where establishing regular marketing habits comes in.
To some, it might be writing an article once or twice a week. For others, it may mean setting up more meetings with networking contacts. Or it could be booking regular speaking engagements.
The secret to making this work is to leverage the first three steps of the model – Coaching, Study, and Planning, into marketing Actions that you perform as consistently as possible.
Tracking. What gets measured gets done. And when we fail to measure, habits don't tend to stick. When we measure and track habits, the chances increase dramatically that they are performed consistently.
It can take some time to establish positive habits. You know that's happened when you don't even have to think about it anymore; you just sit down and write that article every Monday or make five calls to prospects every week.
And when you're in action like this, you create a feedback loop, learning what works the best and what doesn't. This enables you to fine-tune and adjust over time until your marketing habits become more established.
So, stop putting so much attention on searching for the "perfect" marketing strategy, getting motivated, finding more time, and setting goals.
Instead, use the C – SPAT approach to establishing positive marketing habits.