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marathon and colorful crowdLet me preface this article by saying I absolutely do not consider myself a professional runner. I have a number of miles on several pairs of running shoes over the years, mostly during my time as a cavalry scout in the Army. Years of sitting at a desk, along with laziness on my part, have helped to ensure that I am running with the equivalent extra weight of the body armor I used to wear.

Every year at Cazbah, we put together a team to participate in the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge here in the Rochester area. Check out the good looking group in the picture! This race is a little over 5K at 3.5 miles, so it is a nice, comfortable distance for reasonably novice runners. Not to mention it’s a good way to raise money for charity, while seizing an opportunity for a barbecue and some good team building time. We always have a great time, and some of us finish the race faster than others.cazbah-corp-challenge-2016

How does this relate to the world of online marketing? The metaphor I like to use is that marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. We often run into people looking for a quick fix, or who are used to being promised that they will be “number one on Google” (whatever that anecdotal statement means). The truth is, online marketing takes hard, time-consuming work, and requires focus not just on SEO (Search Engine Optimization). With search engines getting better at qualifying and individualizing search results, there is so much more that goes into accomplishing goals than just building a little bit of content with a select set of keywords.

Some of the most important things to consider building into your marketing plan should include:

  • Keyword research – Still relevant and important to help you make sure that you are reaching your desired audience.
  • Search Engine Marketing – Google AdWords; Shopping Ads – for online retailers; retargeting ads, etc.
  • Local Optimization – This is often an area which gets neglected, when it can be one of the fastest paths to revenue.
  • Email marketing – Communicating with existing and prospective customers demonstrates consistently proven results.
  • Analytics – How do you know if your effort is paying off? How do you identify new opportunities? Trying to do this without effective measurement techniques is extremely difficult, and likely leads to inefficiency and inaccuracy.

None of these can be achieved overnight, no matter who promises otherwise. The most effective method is to do your homework, develop a plan, and work through it. I had to plan ahead and start running about a month before the Corporate Challenge. Someday I would like to work my way up to a half marathon, and maybe even a full marathon. That certainly isn’t something I will be able to accomplish by just wanting to do it. It is going to take months or years of preparation.

I’m happy to say that our whole team finished the race in less than 40 minutes this year. Maybe next year we can shoot for 35 or less. Either way, we all need to set goals, then put in the work it takes to achieve them. Regardless of whether those goals are in online marketing/sales, a 5K, or a marathon.

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