WARNING: Look Out For This Small Business Marketing Killer


Visualize with me for a moment while I share with you an analogous somewhat satirical tale about 3 airplane pilots desperately wanting to fill their own empty passenger airplane with paying passengers.

Now it just so happens that as much as each pilot wants to load up with passengers, the potential passengers are located at a different airport… so if the pilots really want the passengers, they’re going to have to go where those potential passengers are, let them know they’re there, tell them why they should choose their airplane over the vast array of other transportation options – for example, other planes, trains, buses, cars, etc… And ultimately, persuade them to buy tickets.

Don't wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.

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So each of the pilots should know what they need to do, right? Well unfortunately knowing what to do and actually doing them are two totally different things. Let’s visualize further.

The first pilot starts his engines and prepares for takeoff. Get ready, get set, no not yet, there’s too many clouds… maybe in a few minutes. The clouds pass… Get ready, get set, no not yet, it’s too early in the week, my potential passengers probably won’t be ready to fly until the weekend. 

The weekend comes… Get ready, get set, no not yet, it’s getting dark, by the time I arrive, the potential passengers will never see me land. Excuse after excuse after excuse the pilot never pulls the trigger to takeoff. So he just continually taxis his plane around the tarmac in hopes of the perfect flying conditions.

Better yet, he starts to wishfully think that just maybe his potential passengers will see him taxiing and buy a ticket… unfortunately for him though, the potential passengers being too far away never see him… and as a matter of fact, they don’t even know he exists… that’s too bad too, he has a beautiful airplane and could have provided a stellar flying experience. So the first pilot continually taxis round and round the tarmac until he finally runs out of fuel and money… end result, he quickly goes out of business.

Now the second pilot actually takes off en route to where the potential passengers are. As he approaches the airport he circles it in a holding pattern waiting for the most perfect moment to start his descent and land the plane. Get ready, get set, no not yet, there’s too many clouds… maybe in a few minutes. The clouds pass… Get ready, get set, no not yet, it’s too early in the morning and the potential passengers are probably still sleeping… I’ll try later. 

Later comes… Get ready, get set, no not yet, it’s too dark out now, the potential passengers will never see me land… maybe tomorrow morning. Excuse after excuse after excuse the pilot never pulls the trigger to start his descent. He eventually runs out of gas and crashes and burns… and as you probably can guess, he’s quickly out of business as well.

Now the third pilot without hesitation takes off en route to where the potential passengers are. He arrives at his destination and as soon as he’s cleared to land, he immediately does so. Once on the ground he makes it known he is there… he makes his case for choosing his airplane over any other options… he makes it real easy, lucrative, and fun to travel with him… so as a result, he sells a few tickets, not as many as he would have liked however, enough tickets to survive another day and try again tomorrow.

So tomorrow comes… he repeats this process… except this time he tweaks it a bit based on what his experiences taught him the day before. End result, he sells even more tickets. Now he continues this tweaking process over and over and ultimately, he starts to see his profitability soar.

The moral of this story… perfectionism and marketing do not mix!

Now I’m not going to get into the root causes of perfectionism as that’s a whole other conversation for another day. However, in marketing there comes a point in time where your quest for perfection actually does more harm than good… every tweak you make past a certain point adds less and less value to the overall marketing effort. 

It is imperative to be able to identify this point and pull the trigger to release your marketing as close to it as possible. That’s not easy to do however trial and error will certainly get you closer than delays driven by perfectionism.

Don’t get me wrong here… Perfectionism when properly applied to certain aspects in business can be a wonderful thing… for example keeping your financial books in order is a great place for perfectionism… Marketing in my opinion however is not.

You also should consider the potential missed revenues or ‘opportunity cost’ that you would be creating for your business by delaying your marketing efforts.

As a marketing coach and consultant I see it all the time… Businesses getting ready, getting set… , getting ready, getting set… getting ready, getting set… and for whatever reason never pulling the trigger to go and do whatever it takes to make it happen. They make the excuses… they look for the perfect conditions… all the while never pulling the trigger… then they wonder why business isn’t as good as they’d like.

So I challenge you to ask yourself… and be honest… which pilot are you going to be today? Your choice has the power to make or break your business.


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9 thoughts on “WARNING: Look Out For This Small Business Marketing Killer”

  1. Dean you make a great point here! I see this so many times in my work as it relates to cutting costs or letting go of a negative employee. Always waiting for “things to turn around” or for the marketing to “take off”. Meanwhile all that’s happening is exactly what you point out here so well. So many starts and stops looking for those perfect conditions, while the opportunities are going to those willing to step up and land their planes in cloudy conditions.

  2. Procrastination gets you every time! It’s so important to put yourself out there right away, don’t wait – someone else will steal your space!

    Thanks for the tips.

  3. Good tips, I actually find myself doing this… what I think is “waiting for the perfect time to do something”… but I now realize it is procrastination and I just need to DO IT!

  4. Anna at Mama Writes

    I know this first hand, I am an expert in procrastination…. I have to try hard not to fall into it!

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