What do spin classes and marketing programs have in common?
As I was sweating through a spin class this week (Try it. Best workout ever.) I thought about how cycling relates to PR and marketing. There are some basic principles that make a cycling class effective, and the same principles work for brand building, too.
- Never stop. Even when you’re resting in a cycling class, you’re still moving forward. Maybe taking a drink or toweling your face, but moving forward nevertheless. Your PR and marketing program needs to do the same. Sometimes you make a grand push to try to generate new leads and stronger awareness, and when it’s over, you stop. That’s a bad idea. Don’t ever stop. Make sure you’re focused on having some activity going on all the time that’s working toward your objectives. I had a boss once that worked 7 days a week, every week. His point was this: you don’t stop spending money on the weekends, why should you stop earning it?
- Mix it up. A good cycling instructor will have you doing something different every minute. This variety minimizes boredom, but more importantly it enables you to work a greater variety of muscle groups. PR and marketing? Same thing. If your strategy is to blanket your favorite publication with ads, that’s fine, as long as you’re doing a number of other tactics, too. You never know where you’re going to find that next client, so it’s not appropriate to put all your eggs in one basket. Also, it often takes many smacks upside the head before your brand registers in the front of prospect’s mind.
- Push hard. I believe what makes cycling an effective training program is the concept that an hour is just a whole bunch of 15 and 30 second spurts. And that you can do just about ANYthing for 15 seconds. “Come on, push harder! Only 15 seconds left!” So when you’re executing a short, focused marketing or PR campaign, push hard and make it exciting, make it all happen on time, get everyone involved, because you’ll have time to “rest” when the campaign is over. (But resting doesn’t mean stopping. See #1.)
- Be consistent. In cycling, like in any sport or training program, no one expect results to come on day 1. (In fact, it’s usually pain that comes on day 1. And 2.) You get the best results through consistency. Months and months of getting on that bike has long term positive effects. Marketing and PR is the same way. It’s hard for a company to understand that they may not get a whopping number of leads on that very first burst, but it makes sense. You need to be consistent. Always strategizing on new ways to reach your market. Always trying new programs, re-upping on programs that were effective, revising programs that didn’t work out. Some clients say “we’re tired of saying the same old thing all the time and we think our market will be bored with our message!” The reality is that there is little chance that your market is bored with your message, if in fact they’ve ever seen it at all. Think about B2C ad campaigns that endured. “Tastes great. Less filling.” The message endured for many, many years, but the creative was changed up all the time to stay fresh, engaging and relevant. It’s a good model for your company (minus the beer, of course.) Funny, but the cycling instructor really brought this point home at the end of the class. He said a line from an old campaign that worked for years and still resonates today. Especially when you’re in a spin class. “Don’t touch that dial!” (P.S. That’s me in the back)