What Ron Swanson can teach you about marketing

Ron Swanson. 

Just saying the name brings a smile to my face. 

If you’re unfamiliar with Ron Swanson, he is one of the lead characters in the (no longer airing) sitcom Parks and Recreation. In the show he often provides wisdom and guidance, and does it through a brilliant bit of deadpan. 

He drops such wisdom bombs as:

“There’s only one thing I hate more than lying: skim milk. Which is water that’s lying about being milk.”

And 

“There are three acceptable haircuts: high and tight, crew cut, buzz cut.”

Aside from dietary guidance (which he gives a lot of) and fashion advice, he also delivers some incredibly relevant mentorship to business leaders and marketers.

"Never half-ass two things; whole-ass one thing."

There are nearly infinite things you can do as a marketer.

Channels? Dozens.

Paid? Organic? Blogs? Email? Social Media? OOH?

The list goes on and on.

Surely if you put a little bit of time into every one of these, you can reach every single person that might want your product, right?

WRONG.

You’re spreading yourself too thin.

This is the number one mistake that I see when clients come in. They are trying to be on every platform. They are trying to do everything. And they are doing it all without a cohesive plan. That means that they are doing everything sub-optimally.

What you are doing:

Trying to be on every channel. Organic Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat. Paid ads on Facebook, Instagram and Google. Email newsletter. Blog. YouTube channel.

You’re spreading your attention, your time and your results across too many platforms. All of these tools are self-perpetuating. That means that the better you do, the faster you will grow on that platform. It doesn’t bleed over. It doesn’t add up across them. But it does compound within the platform.

The more followers you get, the more people will like/share/comment. That will have more new people get shown your stuff. Having 100 followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is not as powerful or valuable as having 300 followers on any one of those.

What you should be doing:

Pick a channel you can absolutely crush. Then pick one that logically supports that.

There is your focus.

You can own the usernames on the other channels, because someday you’ll get there. But for now, you’re going to focus on those two channels.

The common advice you’ll get, super helpfully I might add, is to go where your audience is. Brilliant. Spellbinding. Groundbreaking.

Also wrong.

Am I telling you to go where your audience isn’t? No, that is ridiculous.

What I am telling you to do is pick a channel where you can stand out. Where you can really make an impact.

The point of focusing our efforts, of reducing platforms, is so you don’t get spread thin. You’re now going to have the energy to comment, to engage, to regularly use (whether that’s social media or blogs or whatever) the channels you chose.

The results will compound. You will grow faster.

And once you reach a stable growth, and are in a groove systematically, you can add 1-2 more channels. Again, you’ll focus. You need to maintain your presence and strength on your first two channels, and start building into your 3rd and 4th. This is how you grow faster, more efficiently and without losing your mind.

"Friends, one to three is sufficient"

There it is, another supporting Ron Swanson truism. I changed the punctuation, and with it the meaning (the real quote is “Friends: one to three is sufficient”), but this way it puts a happy little bow on this post. Isn’t that lovely?

Remember, you aren’t striving for mediocrity. Stop trying to do too much.

Focus.

Pick your channels ruthlessly; deliberately. Then focus there, do the work well, and don’t try to expand until you’ve built those first channels into business machines that get results.