Old-time comedian W.C. Fields once said, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.”

While that line is good for a laugh, it’s not the most helpful approach when it comes to marketing your business. Yes, you may ultimately decide you’re being a damn fool with what you’re doing (and you may feel exactly that way right now).

But before you throw in the towel on That Thing You’re Currently Doing, there are a few scenarios you might want to test out to see if you can turn things around.

1. You’re doing the right thing, but you’re doing it badly.

Imagine for a moment that it wasn’t you who was engaging in this particular marketing activity, but someone else that you were paying fair market wages to do the same job. Six months ago you handed it off to them, said “Go get ‘em, tiger”, and sent them on their way.

Now, let’s also imagine that today you came back and reviewed their last six months of effort (which is equal to YOUR last six months of effort) on that particular marketing front. Keep in mind you’ve been cutting payroll checks for them for 24 weeks by now.

Would you consider what they’ve been doing to be worth the money? Or would you kind of throw up a little and think “Oh my God, I’m PAYING for this?”

It’s easy to say something like “Yeah, I’ve been trying blogging and it’s not really getting me any traffic”, because that’s playing down the issue. But if it turns out the real issue is your posts kind of suck and you’re barely putting anything out there … it’s not fair to say “blogging isn’t working.”

If you know in your objective heart of hearts that what’s been going on wouldn’t meet expectations in an employee, that’s a sign that the real problem (at least in part) is that the job is just being done badly.

That’s good news.

That means if you get honest about how to fix it, you can do so relatively fast and start seeing results.

2. You’re doing the right thing, but you’re not doing enough of it.

If you spent a dollar on advertising, you wouldn’t expect it to work.

If you spent a million dollars on advertising, you’d sure hope it would.

Somewhere in between those two numbers is a “reasonable” amount that a business could expect to spend and end up with some profit. (Hint: The answer isn’t two dollars.)

Whatever you’re doing that isn’t working right now has some kind of sweet spot where results start taking place.

You can’t know exactly what that is by intuition alone, but you can get a gut feel for if you’re doing too little of it to reasonably work.

Imagine with me again – let’s say someone started a business that was different than yours, and decided to use the same marketing strategy you did. How much effort would you think was “enough” for them? What would be a reasonable ballpark?

If that’s way more than you’re doing now, then the fix you’re looking for may be as simple as “do that thing, but do it more.”

3. You’re doing the right thing, but you’re haven’t been doing it for long enough.

Marketing isn’t the first industry that has tried to tell you that AMAZING results can be had in as little as 7 days. But this is rarely how the real world works.

Most of the time, you have to bang away at it for long enough until whatever you’re doing takes off.

How long are we talking about? Can’t say. Depends on too many things. But most things that take off do so on a trajectory.

Check your current results. If what you’re doing is working in any sense of the word, then that’s a good sign. You may just have to wait it out.

In advertising the maxim is you generally need “13 exposures” to an ad before you’ll seriously consider buying. That means you have to keep exposing people to the advertisement and wait.

Waiting’s no fun. I, personally, would like a million dollars by Wednesday.

But there’s a difference between slow growth and no growth.

In the pre-internet world, most businesses understood that it might take them three years to become profitable. With the internet, you can certainly shorten that time. But it doesn’t mean it will happen fast.

Think of the thing you’re doing, and ask yourself if you’ve been doing it long enough for it to work. If you’re uncertain, ask around and find out how long it took other people to make it work. The answers will probably surprise (and comfort) you.

Very rarely will you be doing the WRONG thing.

Yes, sometimes you will be going in the wrong direction entirely. If you’re pouring time and money into Facebook to corner the Amish market, yes, that may be the wrong strategy.

But if your marketing strategy makes sense in principle – as in, 100 impartial people could hear what you’re attempting and say “That sounds reasonable”, then it’s probably one of the above.

And in that case, it’s not “try, try again”.

It may be “try, but do it better from now on.”

It may be “try and do more of it than you’re currently doing.”

It may be “keep trying it and give it time to work.”

But you’re not doing the wrong thing.

About the author: Naomi Dunford started IttyBiz in 2006. In her free time, she likes to… ha! Free time. You’re adorable. Learn more about her here and catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook.

This Week’s Assignment

When anyone decides to start a company, there’s usually a premise that they want to build into the culture of that company, a reason why they’re starting that business and not just selling hot dogs on the nearest street corner.

Disneyland set out to be “the happiest place on Earth”. Zappos decided their company was in the business of “delivering happiness”.

And lest we get into a happiness trifecta, SAS (a software company in the southeast US) was founded by a guy who just wanted to make a company with great perks and a culture that didn’t drain the life out of people – which was his experience at his last corporate gig.

Every company starts out with a culture, or “climate” in mind. Including yours.

Maybe you have massive ambitions like the examples above.

Or maybe yours are smaller – perhaps you just wanted to start a business where you could have a little bit of fun doing something you enjoyed, and you want to make your customers and contractors feel good about doing business with you.

Whatever it is, we can call this the “climate” you want your company to operate in.

In the big companies that slap their climate into their slogan (or make a big deal about it to the press), the expectation is that they will pay attention to that culture to see if it’s still present over time.

In other words, they’re expected to take the temperature every so often to see if the climate is still what they intended it to be.

I imagine there are periodic meetings at Disney where they ask “Are we still the happiest place on Earth? Or are we dropping the ball?”

They’re going to drop the ball eventually. And that’s okay. They’ll just need to pick the ball up again once they notice.

What did you get into this intending to create? And is it happening?

I don’t know what you wanted to create when you started your venture. But you do.

You had a picture of good things that would happen on the inside (whether it was just you, or you plus employees).

You had a picture of what your customers would be experiencing when they did business with you, too.

That’s your climate.

Today, I want you to think about that climate, and take your current temperature.

Are you still doing what you set out to do?

And if you’re not, what can you do to get things back on track?

About the author: Naomi Dunford started IttyBiz in 2006. In her free time, she likes to… ha! Free time. You’re adorable. Learn more about her here and catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook.

Running a business is often hard and stressful.

Because of this, the People Who Don’t Think Too Hard Before Giving Advice Brigade says “Well, you should RELAX, silly! You’ll burn yourself out!”

Of course! Why didn’t we think of that! Problem solved, oui?


Relaxing, for a lot of us, is really hard.

If that statement made you go “What are you talking about?”, then you can stop reading here. Go enjoy your weekend.

If you found yourself nodding, however – bonus points if your shoulders slumped a little bit – you’re not crazy.

For a lot of people, relaxing IS hard.

There are reasons. Take a minute to read them, and the world might make a little more sense.

Many of the things we call “relaxing” are actually stimulating.

We now live in a world where the default-non work activity typically involves something with a screen. Web surfing. Television. Texting. Candy Crush. Console games. Facebook.

We do these things to “take a break” or “wind down”, when in reality, they wind us up. They are an exercise in non-stop stimulation.

Which doesn’t mean they’re bad things – they’re just bad for relaxing.

But! They are among the list of socially approved ways to spend your time. So they tend to be our defaults.

If you’re running the risk of burnout, you need to identify ways of relaxing that will actually relax you.

These ways will be different for everyone.

But whatever your way is, in order for it to be successful you have to feel actively better after doing the activity. The thing you’re doing to relax must make you feel more equipped to handle life and work.

Generally, things that involve moving the body fall into this category. Burnout is primarily mental, not physical.

Naps also help.

But if you’re headed towards burnout – and your attempts at trying to wind down aren’t helping – maybe your choice of activities is the reason.

Distraction does not always equal relaxation.

If you don’t feel better at the end of your “relaxation breaks”, they aren’t working.

But something else might. Ask yourself what that might be. (And consider taking a walk while thinking about it.)

About the author: Naomi Dunford started IttyBiz in 2006. In her free time, she likes to… ha! Free time. You’re adorable. Learn more about her here and catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook.