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Morpheus and the Frogs

01 October 2013

Fourteen frogs were sitting on a log in the middle of a pond. Three of the frogs decided to jump into the water. How many frogs were left on the log? Now the accountants among you will want to say eleven but that’s not the real answer. The real answer is anything between eleven and fourteen because there is a big difference between deciding to do something and actually doing it!

David Maister is the leading writer in the area of Professional Services Firms. One of his books is called Strategy and the Fat Smoker. He tells a similar story of a guy who goes to the doctor for advice because he is 50 and out of condition. The doctor advises the man to stop smoking, to increase his fruit and vegetable consumption and to take regular exercise. As he is paying the receptionist €50 for the visit he thinks to himself – “What a waste of money – I already knew all that”

How does this all relate to marketing a professional service firm? As Morpheus said to Neo in the Matrix – “Neo, sooner or later you’re going to realize, just as I did, that there’s a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path.”

Marketing a PS firm is very like the process of joining a gym.

  • People start with the best of intentions and often do too much at the beginning.
  • Results are not immediately visible so there is a motivational gap after about three months
  • Other issues start to get in the way – e.g. client work.
  • A sense starts to develop that this is a lot of hard work and I can find plenty of other ways to spend my time.

What’s the solution?

The solution lies 10% is knowing what to do and 90% putting a structure in place that will ensure that you stick to the programme.

  1. Identify a structured model where you can see the beginning, middle and end before you start. It’s important to understand the process e.g. upper body on Tuesdays, legs on Thursdays starting with light weights for the first three months moving to heavier weights and a full body workout in quarter 2,3 and 4.
  2.  Start slowly – pick a small number of initiatives at the outset. Too much soreness is very off-putting and kills motivation.
  3. Look for some early wins to keep you motivated – so start with the most effective strategies.
  4. Put a review structure in place where somebody holds you accountable for your commitments at short regular intervals – this could be a boss, a colleague a trainer or a coach.
  5. Accept that you will need help. Unless you are the exception you will fall off the horse from time to time so you will need someone to give you a leg up to get you back on!