Yesterday, I took a quantum step in my cycling seriousness. I rode my bike to the local shop, and purchased specialized bicycle shoes and pedals. These are the ones where your shoe clips onto the pedal, firmly attaching it and (for a novice) resulting in fearful anxiety about loss of control — what happens when you need to stop suddenly and can’t release your feet?
And indeed (based on preparation and reading/research for this day), it happened, fortunately (also as planned) in a grassy park area.
However, after some 15 trials on the grassy surface, I was (almost) ready to resume normal riding. I took it slow coming home, watching extra careful and following the bike shop staffer’s recommendation that I disengage the clip when I perceived I would need to stop to avoid a panic reaction.
However, the advice given at the store probably will prove true within the next few days. “Once you’ve done this for about three days, you’ll never want to go back to the old ways of doing things.” (There is further advice that after a bit you can get overconfident, forget you have the clips, and, yep, crash again. I haven’t reached that dangerous stage yet.)
The total cost for the switch — including the special shoes, pedals and a tool to adjust the clip-on strength — $240. The stress level and time and contemplation in planning this change . . . about a year and several hours of research.
Why am I sharing this story with you, when the blog’s topic is marketing? There are two key take-aways here:
- Quantum changes — where you truly revise your way of doing things when it comes to marketing — are never easy to make though you can follow protocols, receive advice to make things easier, and (often) the financial cost is far less than you might expect.
- If you are marketing a service that requires a quantum change on your client’s part (and this can be a construction project for a client who isn’t in the development/construction industry), you have a major and long-term education challenge, though many of the key decisions will be made quickly and almost on the spur-of-the-moment.
Consider, from my cycling example, a few other points.
How did I decide to make the change?
I’ve been engaged in an annual charity ride for cancer research for six years now — one of my business clients (Robert Merkley of Merkley Supply Ltd. encouraged me to participate — causing me to return to cycling after more than 20 years off the road.) At last September’s “The Ride” event, on the bus back to the meeting ground for the serious riders taking the long, 108 km. route, virtually everyone else was wearing the special shoes and cleats. (More novice riders generally took a less stressful 50 km. ride on a closed route.)
This gave me the chance to ask some user questions: I have wide feet, would that be a problem? And why do this — how much does performance improve? (Apparently, by about 50 per cent, two riders told me.)
I had achieved the necessary social proof and independent (non sales/marketing) insights needed to make the decision.
I looked on the web, reviewed YouTube videos, and learned that when you make this switch, you’ll usually fall at least once. It was September, and I realized I would not get too many rides in before the Ottawa winter arrived. So, I decided to wait until spring. This spring has been wet, very wet (with significant local flooding.) Finally, on the late May holiday weekend, there would be a sunny day — and a not-to-overburdened schedule to allow me to take my falls.
How did I decide what to buy?
Ah, for decisions and research. We’re talking $240, not $2,400 or (for a contractor $2.4 million.) Specific product pricing doesn’t matter in this context. The store had a wide selection of shoes. I allowed the clerk to show me different options and try them on for size, comfort and practicality. The clerk (rightfully) asked me the type of riding I do — you can get really expensive and sophisticated shoes that have firmness and cleats so powerful that you’ll stick like glue to the bike, but won’t be able to walk around very much with them after your ride is done. Or you can get less fancy systems that do a decent job, and allow you to wear the shoes on regular ground. Not surprisingly, I chose the latter.
I didn’t worry about brand but did care about comfort. After I made the purchase I went online and discovered more nuances about my purchase — and felt reassurance that the bicycle store had sold me the right gear for my needs. (This obviously helps the store’s brand because if someone asks, I will now recommend them. In fact, I’ll post the store’s name here, The Cyclery.)
Where, the future . . .
So, I’ve made the quantum jump. As you can see there are many moving parts to the decision, and each of them interfaces. I think there are plenty of parallels here when it comes to any major change. These include:
- You need third-party (independent) validation of the general decision, and often specific recommendations. So I relied on fellow cyclists for the decision to make the switch.
- You’ll often go to places you know and have experience in making your major purchases. Yes, I used the same bicycle shop where I purchased the bicycle originally.
- Major decisions are made quite often over long periods of time, but quite often key sub-decisions/actions happen quickly and often spontaneously. You can’t control all the variables of the story; but if you can influence key elements, your chances of coming out ahead are greater.
Quantum jumps usually succeed, especially if they are planned and arise from careful thought. This may be the biggest take-away. Say you are ready to switch your marketing from “I rely on referrals” to “I will develop a comprehensive marketing plan and budget” — and go about the process thoughtfully. You’ll probably do it because you’ve seen it works for others (perhaps through your trade association or watching your competitors.) You’ll pull together key elements and knowledge and you’ll chose the right advisors, and when the time comes, take the leap. With preparation, you’ll know what to expect (indeed I fell, as expected), and how to avoid the pitfalls (I found a park to practise the new techniques.)
Go for it.