Market Like Water

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Be Like Water – Market Like Water

waterfalls-1392181-thumbOnline marketing has changed drastically since our start in 1996. The direction of Internet marketing, and marketing in general, seems more fluid than ever. There are more options than ever before, but knowing which options will work best for your business can be challenging. What is odd now is that as the possibilities of marketing channels have grown, there are those who seem to only focus on specific methods and platforms. This approach may work for some, but the evidence does not bear out this approach for a vast number of success stories. What is hot, viral, trending, liked, or just popular on the web is constantly evolving and changing. There seems to be no rules to govern what rises to the top at any given moment on the web. In addition, offline marketing channels can contribute immensely to online efforts. So why should your marketing follow some 5 step plan or rules that may actually limit your potential?

I am a major fan of the martial arts and the teachings found at the core of the disciplines. One of my most favorite quotes is from the great martial artist, Bruce Lee. He made the quote while doing a rare interview and at the time, the quote, had more to do with his philosophy on fighting styles and life, and nothing to do with marketing. But when you examine the essence of the quote, it actually has everything to do with marketing.

Master Lee profoundly said:
“Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless – like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

To me, this thinking is the root of successful online Internet marketing.

The very first sentence, “Empty you mind” simply means don’t set your mind into rigid systems and only follow specific ways of doing things. Is sharing random articles on your social media pages really the key to success? Maybe it is, but do not automatically assume this is the truth just because you read it on the Internet. Following only what others have done can limit your marketing reach and blind you to other more effective tactics.

The next sentence, “Be formless, shapeless – like water” offers the idea that water is a substance that can adapt to any situation. Can you say the same about your marketing? If all you are doing is posting long winded articles to your website and social media properties that no decision maker has time to read, have you adapted to your market? Always ask yourself if you would be interested in reading or listening to your own marketing? More importantly ask others.

The next few sentences of Master Lee’s quote relate to the preceding: “If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot.” The idea is to make sure your marketing fits the platform you are putting it into. Posting technical info constantly on a social platform is probably not the best way to reach your intended audience. Standing out may be important and may help you be remembered, but standing out awkwardly like a mime at a wrestling match may not invoke confidence in your brand. The idea is to make your marketing feel “comfortable” in all situations. Adjust the way specific information is going to be used on different platforms. This will allow the information to be digested by the right people in the right way.

The final sentence in the quote on water is the one most directly tied to today’s world of Internet Marketing: “Now water can flow or it can crash.” Your marketing needs to work to achieve both of these thoughts. Allowing your marketing to simply flow with the surrounding marketing currents will allow you to reach many people who are interested in what you have to offer. Your message may not produce a ripple, but it is offered in a very supportive and informative fashion.

On the flip side of this is finding ways to make your marketing message “crash” through the noise and obstacles we find between ourselves and our prospects is just as important. Flowing water can find its way around obstacles and can slice through rock. If there is just the smallest entry point in your roof, water will find its way in. The question is, does your marketing?

If you are working on a facebook campaign and you are not generating sales, do you stop the effort? Or worse yet do you continue the same things that are not working? The idea is that you need your marketing to develop momentum to carry the message to those in your target audience. You must get your marketing to “crash” through the obstacles that are holding it back just like water carving through rock.

The question becomes – “Can marketing templates being hyped by so many companies pave your path to success?” If not, then how can your company find the right path?

Another famous quote by Bruce Lee is, “Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless and add what is specifically your own.” In other words, find what works for your company and be original. Make the marketing template your own. Test different methods, wording, social media channels, SEO and so on. Test and measure. The only way to find out what is “useful” is to monitor and measure what you are trying to see if it is working. Beyond everything else, make the message your own. Don’t allow others to create a definition of your company that may not be true. People on the web are more savvy than ever and they can spot a fake fairly quickly. You can never go wrong with an honest message.

I will close with the final thought from Master Lee: “Be like water, my friend.”


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