Most of us are pretty happy to have everything we want right at our fingertips – our coffee is made by a Keurig so we don’t have to wait for our coffeemaker to prepare it, our food can be prepared faster in an air fryer than in an oven, and we have GPS on our phones so we don’t have to take the time to look at a map. Similarly, our informational needs are answered by Siri or Google so we don’t even need to do any research for answers to our questions. It’s easy to see why we also expect immediate gratification from our marketing and publicity campaigns – but that’s where things differ.
I’ve been working with clients behind the scenes on their branding and publicity campaigns for over 30 years now and I’m always amazed at how people, new to this process, expect immediate results from a small amount of work without sustaining an ongoing campaign.
I am often asked, “How long will it take for the book I am writing to become a “best seller?” Or how much marketing do I have to do to sell more of my products or services, and once I achieve a level of growth, can I stop doing the marketing and publicity?
When I get asked these questions, I like to refer to people in the music industry who are well known and accomplished like, for instance, guitarist Eric Clapton, who got his first guitar at age 13 and joined his first band, “The Roosters” at age 17. After working as a day laborer with his grandfather, a bricklayer, he was recruited to “The Yardbirds” where he achieved local success but without much financial success. Two years later, Bluesman John Mayall asked Clapton to join his band “John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers,” where Clapton established his reputation as a guitarist. In 1966, after a somewhat turbulent time in his career, he joined the three-man band “Cream” which led to U.S. tours and rock stardom – however, that did not last very long. In 1968, Cream disbanded and once again, Clapton had to reinvent himself.
Clapton then formed the band “Blind Faith” which was known as a “Supergroup” however that band didn’t work out and after just one album and one U.S. tour, he was performing with Delaney & Bonnie and Friends. This gig provided more songwriting experience and in 1970, he formed another band called “Derek and the Dominos” which produced the seminal rock album “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.” However, there were more hardships ahead – drug use and the failure of that band would send him into depression for three years, rarely leaving his estate in England.
But Clapton wasn’t ready to give up yet. In 1974, he reemerged again with a new album and over the next 30+ years, he continued to record, tour, record, tour, write, record, etc. — resulting in where he is today. The multi Grammy Award – winning singer/songwriter (18 Grammys) and guitarist never gave up when the chips were down and despite losing a child to a tragic accident, he turned that heart-wrenching loss into a beautiful song “Tears in Heaven.”
He also used his celebrity presence to raise money for the good of many different organizations – much like Bruce Springsteen, one of my songwriting and performing heroes has done, his whole career. Clapton built a treatment center on the island of Antigua called The Crossroads Centre and has funded it with benefit concerts through the years so that people in need who don’t have the funds can get treatment.
So using the example of Eric Clapton, you can look at the guitarist/song writer and recording artist and see him as a legend and an immediate success or you can see someone who has gone through tremendous setbacks in his career and yet, he has persisted — just like those of us in business must do every day. Marketing is a process; so is public relations and publicity. We build it from creating conversations about our business, our industry, and the work that we do. Building it is a process that continues through the life of the business. We don’t stop talking or writing or doing outreach to our customers when we have success and especially when we are in a low point – we keep going.
I hope you find some meaning in this comparison. We all have our personal demons and insecurities but like Clapton, who was born to a 16-year old unwed mother and raised by his grandparents, we play the cards we are dealt and we do the best we can. Don’t ever stop talking about your business, writing about it, and doing something productive to draw attention (positive) to what you do, and I promise you, you will see results.