marathon runners

How Running a Marathon Helped Me Be a Better Marketer

Shannon Jurenka

For an outdoor runner such as myself, when the stay-at-home order during the COVID-19 pandemic was first announced, I went into a state of panic.  Not just as a runner, but more importantly as a single mother of two and a full-time Project Manager at Pace Marketing.

Thoughts ran through my mind….

  • “Would I be able to continue to run outdoors?”
  • “How would my kids handle online learning?”
  • “Would I still be employed?”
  • “How would our business be affected?”

Running is first on the list for a reason. I am a firm believer that our health sets the foundation for how we perform including how we sustain enough energy to keep up with our children and how well we stay focused at work. In order for me to serve my family, friends, coworkers and clients, I must prioritize my health. For me, being able to get in my (almost) daily morning runs is indicative of how I will function on any given day.


This pandemic has affected every person in the world in some form – health, employment, disconnection from family and community. Our sense of normalcy has been completely turned upside-down. But we WILL recover from this. Although many have been affected by loss or change, we all get to choose how we respond. My hope is that our community will choose the opportunity to rebuild and re-strengthen our lives, our health and our businesses.


Running is one tool I have used to rebuild my own health. Back in 2011 I set a goal to run my first marathon, starting from the couch with little running experience. It was a goal I set for my health. What I didn’t know at the time is that it would teach me a lot about life, business and, yes, even marketing.


Mindset

In marketing, similarly, to running, you first have to define your goals and set your mind up for success. I knew that in order to run a marathon I would need to change my mindset to believe I COULD achieve it. Business owners are wondering what is going to happen, facing fear and doubt in this chaotic time. Marketing professionals are weighing the need to generate qualified leads to help their companies survive the pandemic with the need to build brand trust with their clients who are also struggling.

Will business get back to “normal?” No. So it’s time to shift. Mindset during this time is so important and choosing to look at the positive side of the pandemic is vital. I’m not saying stick your head in the sand. I’m saying, for most business owners and marketers, the circumstances are forcing us to reevaluate what is important to our companies and brands and find more creative, more efficient ways of executing our vision. As Michael Hyatt said in his book The Vision Driven Leader, “Scarcity forces us to ask what we really want, and that, as we’ll see, is a critical question for vision-driven leaders. An abundance of resources can enable us in avoiding the hard work of getting clear on our vision.”

 

Strategy

Once marketing goals have been defined and determination is set, a strategy needs to be created. To run a marathon, I created a plan to train five to six days a week, running two to three miles per day which built up to longer runs on the weekends. Over about 18 weeks I worked my way up to 21 miles. I also incorporated a nutrition plan, researching which foods would fuel my runs, which foods would help me recover and which foods would work against me.

Going from the couch to a full marathon, I knew growth was not going to be immediate and required a lot of patience. Over time, I became stronger, developed my muscles and built the endurance I needed to run longer distances each week. The strategy took a lot of trial and error and required some adjustments. I had setbacks along the way. Some days I just couldn’t get out of bed and dreaded the miles I needed to get in. I had to pivot my strategy to work around the unexpected, but the goal did not change. I persevered and would not accept defeat.

Marketing requires the same type of strategic planning and tenacity to reach the short-term and long-term goals set for an organization. The truth is, an organization can take several different routes to reach the same destination. I find this reality comforting because that means, when obstacles happen, there is a different way to go. You can persevere by shifting to new strategies that meet the needs of your business in the current circumstances so you can reach your goals. It will take time, especially in these unprecedented and difficult economic times. There will be setbacks but pivoting with perseverance will help you reach your destination.

 

Execution

I created a strategy for marathon training, but that strategy would have been meaningless without the pursuit. I had to make the weekly and daily choice to follow through with the tactics that were part of my strategy. I also had to be intentional about being consistent with my training. Inconsistent training equals injury. As I mentioned earlier, that meant running five to six days a week with longer runs on the weekends. Did I execute the plan perfectly? Of course not. Perfection was not the goal. But I did train consistently, showing up each day to run, stretch, strengthen and fuel my body for peak performance.

Similarly, execution is key in marketing. Your business will not make any progress with no action. You must move forward on that product development and the marketing communications tools that need to be created to support its growth. You must invest in your marketing the same way you invest in the other vital areas of your business and follow through on the daily activities that will keep you on the path to reaching your goal. It can be uncomfortable, especially if you do not have much experience in marketing, but it is not impossible. You can build your marketing muscles like I built my running muscles, with small, daily actions that develop your marketing program for business growth.

So, what can you do today, tomorrow, next week? Perhaps it involves looking back at your growth goals and planning your quarterly milestones. Do you need to put analytics in place so you can regularly review the effectiveness of your marketing tactics? What about your message, have you updated your messaging to adapt to new consumer attitudes that have developed as a result of the pandemic? Do you need to update your website, create a video, start an email marketing program or finally set up targeted digital advertising? Look at your goals and strategy, then choose a tactic that will help you reach them, implement it and measure its effectiveness. Then go through that cycle again and again and again.

 

Support

Some goals will require additional resources to help you cross the finish line. For me to literally cross the finish line, it took the extra support from online resources, family, friends and a network of other runners to help me overcome the desire to give up. I leaned on these resources to connect with other marathon runners so I could gain insight on what they had learned from their experiences. When marathon day finally came, I was pumped up, fueled by knowledge and support from those I leaned on for help. I knew what to expect and I was ready!

Marketing is no different. It is fueled by the community of business owners and marketing professionals trying new tactics and sharing their experiences. As we navigate through these difficult times, leaning on others for resources and extra support can help us get past feelings of defeat. As you shift your strategy to reach your goals, tap into the additional support and resources to get from sharing and collaborating with other marketing professionals and business owners.

I would not have finished the marathon if I had not adjusted my mindset for success, created a strategy to reach my goal, taken daily action with adjustments when needed, and depended on my network of support and extra resources. It was the most difficult and far-fetched goal I had ever set for myself. My body endured harsh conditions and recovered through the worst pain I ever felt, but I did it! And you can too! With a plan and perseverance, you can help your organization overcome the challenges ahead and reach its goals.

At Pace Marketing we have seen all of our clients shift their plans and priorities during this time. We are helping them to identify any gaps in their current marketing plans and define marketing priorities to help them reach their growth goals through a Marketing Physical. Together, we walk through a marketing framework to define the current marketing resources that are available, and brainstorm new tools needed. You can download our free tool 10 Steps to Generating More Leads for Your Business now for free to start the journey to your business goal destination!

Want to take a deeper dive into your marketing goals or start making progress? Contact us today for a free roadmap call to discover what is possible for your business.