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Online Marketing is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

If you’re running a marathon it would be rather foolish to exert all of your energy at the starting line and an appropriate analogy can be made for online marketing.

Why do we see so many individuals and organizations that are initially eager to run the online marketing marathon only to fizzle out over the long haul? I’m sure you’ve seen it or perhaps experienced it firsthand. The first couple miles (weeks) are wonderful: initial results are taking shape, ambitions are high, and things are looking great. Then it happens… reality kicks in. Maybe one of the higher-ups realizes that the monetary or time investment is going to be larger than expected. Maybe one of the team members loses enthusiasm for the project. Maybe frustration over a seemingly lack of progress starts to set in. Who knows, it could be a combination of many things.

A sites pagerank does not increase overnight. It takes work and time.
Facebook “likes” don’t accumulate instantly. It takes work and time.
Readers don’t flock to a blog immediately. It takes work and time.
Inbound links don’t appear without reason. It takes work and time.

See a pattern?

Hard work over the span of time = results. There’s no other way around it.

Know what you’re getting into

Online marketing can be a lot of fun while at the same time it can be extremely daunting. Instead of jumping into it blindly there needs to be an initial plan of action. “We don’t have a strategy” is not an acceptable strategy.

What are we trying to accomplish? What time frame have we set for ourselves? How much investment is this going to take? Is everyone on board? How will we track progress? Have we set realistic expectations?

These questions must be answered before you start the initial push.

Learn how to pace yourself

Sure it might be tempting to blog 7 days a week or try and rank for really competitive keywords, but how does your aggressive plan shake out for the long term? If you don’t pace yourself it’s almost inevitable that you’ll burn out quickly. It’s not always the case, but be highly cautious when it comes to running too hard too early.

Take a breather

We all make mistakes. We all lose sight of the big picture. Take a step back when needed. Ease up on the accelerator and reexamine priorities. Maybe you need a shift in direction? Sometimes this can be a healthy part of the process. If you’re not seeing results after several months, it might be time to try something new.

Don’t always pay attention to everyone else

Don’t interpret this the wrong way. It’s important to look at your competition and your industry and see what everyone else is doing, but don’t let it hang over your businesses and weigh down your forward momentum. If the competition has a strong grasp on social media or a popular email newsletter or dominates the first page of Google, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have the same. Maybe they’ve simply been at it longer or they’ve hired a better agency or have a bigger team. Look at your competition, but don’t worry about it too much. You’ll get there in due time.

Online marketing is an ongoing discipline. Commit to a high standard of accountability and learn how to leverage and track your efforts. It’s going to take time. Pace yourself, enjoy it, and prepare for a long productive marathon.

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