As I walked down my road this past Saturday, I saw my farmer neighbor hard at work out in the field. The day before, he had cut the long grass and as I strolled by he and his tractor were making wide tracks through the once green, now lightly golden hay. The long rakes collected the stuff into neat columns that were then baled up to be put away for the winter season that’s just around the corner.
For a moment I felt sorry for the farmer, working on a lovely Saturday morning; but then I realized that it’s just part of his livelihood. The farmer doesn’t decide when he will harvest any of his crops – that’s up to Mother Nature. She is the one who makes the rules about when you hay the fields, pick the pumpkins, and pull up the potatoes. All the farmer can do is read well the signs of her changing seasons and be ready to do his part when all the conditions are right.
Like the farmer, a marketer is not ultimately in control of when, where, and how she will reap the benefits of her labors. Infestations of competitors descend on seedling products, ruining their chances at survival. Blights of poor tactical execution by other arms of the business cripple the growth of promotional efforts. The changing climate of the marketplace shrivels one crop while causing another to grow like wildfire. What’s a marketer to do in the face of Mother Nature’s whims?
Keep an eye to the sky
It’s easy to focus so intensely on the internal workings of your business that you forget to look up for signs of change in the marketplace. As weather rules the days and nights of the farmer, so the marketplace determines business priorities. Keeping your nose to the grindstone is one thing, wearing blinders while doing it is another.
Plant multiple crops
Diversification is an important tactic in any endeavor. When you spread your harvest over a number of different products and services, you mitigate risk and create fertile ground for additional opportunities. Be careful not to over-farm the soil by spreading it too thin across too many offerings, but don’t plant all your fields with the same solution, either.
Monitor growth carefully
Left to their own devices, most plants will either wither and die or go rogue. It is only through careful tending that they will grow to be strong, healthy, and productive. Don’t fall into a launch-and-abandon cycle. Measure and monitor consistently so that you become aware of even the smallest changes in the growth patterns.
Nip problems in the bud
When you do come across a problem, don’t leave it for tomorrow. “One little tomato worm” today can quickly become a devastating Armageddon of plant vs. insect. Are their nasty bugs in your software, deficiencies in your customer service, horrific levels of unwieldiness in your online customer experience? Fix them. Today.
Focus on your strongest crops
As you work your fields, you may find that one crop is doing much better than all the others. Take the time to assess these strong contenders and think about whether you should consolidate your efforts around their continued success. Maybe it’s time to change the mix – eliminating the crops that aren’t yielding such a good harvest in favor of those that are producing over-the-top results.
In short, to grow your business you must work with your environment. You may be the one planting the seeds, but there are many factors outside your control that you need to consider. Play nice with Mother Nature and your business will thrive.
Image Credit: Chemtec
This post is part of my “Marketing According to Mother Nature” series. From the birds and the bees to sharks and wildebeests, the natural world is full of metaphors that provide surprisingly relevant marketing insights. Take a walk on the wild side – you never know what might inspire you.