18 weeks, 293 miles and 3 lessons

That’s how long and how many miles it takes to train for a half-marathon. Now, I’m a runner and I wish I could say that I’m talking about me and my training, but it’s not me. Instead, I watched my significant other knock it out. Bit by bit. And all that hard work culminates in a race this Sunday in Virginia Beach. And in watching her, I’ve learned many things…of course, which I can apply to word of mouth and social media marketing efforts.

1) Work the plan. You can’t just wake up and decide to run one of these things. Okay, you can. But you probably won’t finish the race and if you do, it’ll cause you a lot of damage afterward. I watched Kathie work her plan. She had a chart that told her what to do each week – mileage, time, cross-train, even days to do nothing but rest. She had a plan and she stayed true to it.

So many times we see ill-conceived word of mouth and social media programs that are launched with very little planning and thought. Know your plan. Work your plan. And then you’ll be ready on race day.

2) Pace yourself. When you train for a long distance race, you learn a lot about yourself. You learn how to breathe when your heart rate increases, you find the right gait of your stride. And you learn about your pace. Because you might be able to run seven-minute miles in a 5K, but unless you run for a living, that pace will probably kill you when you run 13 or 26 miles.

For the WOM and SM application of this lesson, it’s about sustainability. When you set and keep a solid rhythm for your efforts, you’re lending it to the ability to go the distance. But you have to stay true to yourself. To your brand. To who you are and what you stand for. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.

3) Set your goal and take steps towards it. The finish line of a race is an extremely clear goal. And when you see those last few mile markers, you know you’re getting close. That clearly defined goal materializes. And you know what it’s going to take to get you there.

If you have no goals in your WOM/SM program, then you might as not have a strategy, either. Tactics won’t even matter. The answer to “What are w trying to accomplish?” needs to be that guiding light. Or, to put it another way, “What are we going to be celebrating at the end of this thing?”

So run. But first get a training schedule. Learn learn how to run. And know what you’re running towards. Then you’re ready for that journey and all the accomplishments that come with it. Good luck!

The alternate title for this post could be, “Prior planning prevents poor performance.”

1 Comment

  • March 23, 2010

    Joe O'Keefe

    This really is the key, isn’t it? Having a PLAN! I have a plan for my business and I execute it within the paradigm it exists but I still feel I need to do more to sustain the business. We are doing well but if you can get more people to come back on a regular basis we could be doing so much better. The long term view in my plan needs some tweaking as I have an opportunity to expand into a new market for us in our region. A bigger market, but more competition and a need for a more refined approach to pinprick marketing. Tis a marathon indeed. Hope your wife did well.

    Cheers!

    -joe

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