Slowly Slowly, Catchy Monkey

When I was growing up there was a saying I heard time and time again. First from my parents, then from my grandparents and finally my teachers, I would repeatedly hear the phrase, “slowly slowly catchy monkey” when I got frustrated that things weren’t progressing as fast as I would have liked. The phrase was supposed to tell me that by playing a long game, rather than looking for instant gratification – whether saving my pocket money for something I’d seen in a store, or making progress at one a sport or another. I was told repeatedly that with patience and putting in the requisite work I would succeed in whatever endeavour it was I was invested in.

In the era of the real-time internet this strategy can, often, be forgotten. People expect that because communication is instantaneous – whether communicating with customers via email, or journalists via Twitter or LinkedIn – that objectives will be achieved in similar timescales. In many – actually, in most – cases, this is not the case. This is particularly true when it comes to marketing and public relations. You launch a product – you expect to have customers lining up to buy it.

You tweet a link to a blog post and you expect there to be a flurry of activity on your website. You “engage” with an influencer on a social platform and you expect their followers/friends/fans to be instantly gain their trust. You position yourself as an expert and, within weeks, you’re expecting people to be waiting with baited breath. That’s how social media marketing works, right?

Wrong! Imagine if you applied the same principle to other areas of your life. You start a new job and expect to be appointed CEO within a couple of months because you demonstrate you can do your job well. You earn a good salary for your work, so expect to be able to command six figures within months because you build relationships with senior members of the executive team. You pass your driving test, so expect to be able to compete in IndyCart or Formula One… I’m not saying it never happens, but it’s unlikely.

Credibility, influence and trust take time. Persuading somebody that they should buy your product rather than a competitors doesn’t happen overnight unless you have a really disruptive product or service – and even then, the fact that it is disruptive often means the market takes time to adjust. But that’s not a bad thing. Instant successes often aren’t sustained – just think of all the “one-hit wonders” that litter the annuls of the music industry… all the artists that had a top 10 hit and were never heard of again.

As you build a marketing and public relations plan for the coming year the key is to be able to sustain the successes. Build measurement in to a plan to show that you’re making progress and identify key milestones that will be key to achieving your overall goals come the end of the year. A journalist that writes for one of the leading technology startup websites, TechCrunch, summed it up best at an event I attended before Christmas when he said, ‘Do something cool. Talk about it. Then do it again!”.

Marketing success – as with anything else – takes time, so when you’re building your marketing and PR plan for 2013 remember what my grandmother told me… “slowly slowly catchy monkey”.

*this post was originally written for SBCN Canada

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