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Marketing programs are like gyms: At the beginning of the year, every one of them is full — full of good intentions, full of enthusiastic people, full of money, full of hope. But marketing programs almost always fall victim to the same two maladies that plague gyms — time and reality:

  • Time: Effective marketing programs, like effective exercise programs take time. An old expression says, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Neither was Arnold Schwarzenegger. Effective marketing programs, like effective exercise programs, take time. Time to plan. Time to build. Time to execute. Time to work. Haste is no friend to marketing or exercise.
  • Reality: No one is going to care about what you’re doing anywhere near as much as you do. That’s right. Whether you’re building an effective marketing program or a sculpted physique, no one will care. That doesn’t mean no one will notice. It means you have to make them notice. Plan your program. Build your messages and your materials. Execute the program aggressively. Work it relentlessly. Only after you’ve done that for more time than you might have bargained for will you be able to flaunt your success or flex your pecs.

By the end of the first quarter, most marketing programs, like most gyms, are empty. Bereft of good intentions, enthusiasm, people, money, and hope, you can feel the defeat in both of them. And you can pretty much script the conversation that follows:

“Well, we tried that and it didn’t work.”

“Really, what did you do?”

“We went at it really hard for three months.”

“Did anything happen?”

“We made a little progress but not as much as we wanted.”

“So, you thought pulling the plug was a good idea?”


In addition to the two maladies listed above, marketing programs and exercise programs are alike in that they’re both susceptible to the same phenomenon: reversion. If you stop your exercise program before you’ve given it enough time to be effective, you’ll revert to what you were before you started — unfit and unhealthy. If you stop your marketing program before you’ve given it enough time to be effective, your business also will revert to what it was before you started — dark and unknown.

Marketing, like vigorous exercise, is not for the squeamish or the impatient.