Are you interested in using digital marketing to make your first million dollars? You may be surprised to learn that surfing is a perfect analogy for you.
Waves are Marketing Channels
Picture the marketing world as a cove or bay for surfing. In this cove or bay, there are big waves, small waves and swells. Each marketing phenomenon — a new and disruptive marketing channel that fundamentally changes the digital marketing landscape — is comparable to a wave. SEO was a huge wave; PPC was another huge wave. Social was a small but steady wave that is still peaking (or perhaps still growing). Programmatic display ads is a wave that we don’t know the size of yet because it’s so new. Inbound is a wave that is increasing in size daily. Each wave is a movement in marketing, and the surfers that ride the giant waves successfully will make millions.
You’re the Surfer
You are the surfer, paddling out into the unknown with other surfers, sharks, rocks, potentially adverse conditions, and only your board, wits and skills to keep you alive. When you’re surfing, you need to:
- Learn how waves are formed
- Learn to pick the right wave
- Learn to catch the wave by standing up on your board
- Analyze your mistakes when you fall
- Try and try again
Conveniently, these surfing tips are immediately applicable to leveraging marketing to make your first million. Learning about marketing as a concept and how things work is comparable to understanding how waves are formed. Learning which areas of marketing you will excel at is comparable to learning how to pick the right wave. Learning which marketing tactics and channels to utilize is comparable to how to catch the wave and stand-up on your board. Analyzing your mistakes and trying after you fail are entrepreneurship 101 lessons. If you follow the basic principles of surfing, you will be successful in using marketing to become a successful entrepreneur.
Like most things in life, your perspective is limited by your current position. If you are in the water on your surfboard, it’s tough to tell when a big wave is going to come. Sensing the difference between a big wave, a small wave and a swell takes intuition, patience and luck. When you are looking at the marketing world from the shore, or after the waves have broken, it’s straightforward to tell when there was a sound wave vs a lousy wave for surfing. This is no different from the opportunities of paradigm-shifting marketing movements. Any student of marketing could postulate on the significance of PPC or SEO in the year 2015; these are some of the most commonly implemented marketing tactics used by businesses around the world. But who knew in the year 2000 that PPC would be a $50 billion business for Google? Probably a minimal number of people. Who knew in the year 2004 that Facebook would have over 1 billion users in the year 2015? Probably a minimal number of surfers. \j Yet in each case, some surfers rode the wave from the beginning and are now gurus (People who get paid millions to advise newer surfers on how to ride the PPC or Facebook wave now that there is the universal acknowledgement of the importance of this wave).
Keep in mind that for every surfer who started advertising in Google Adwords in the year 2000, ten surfers were riding the wave of telemarketing.
The Nature of Waves
By the time a wave gets big, there are often reasons why it’s hard to enter the wave. Here are a couple of reasons:
There are lots of other surfers in the wave.
When there are lots of surfers in the wave, it can be challenging to get your footing and not get trampled by another surfer. Big waves tend to have a lot of experienced surfers who will squash you if you don’t execute the right level of etiquette and expertise about how to enter the wave. Marketing channels are like this. You will find the giant waves are crowded and don’t have room for you to make the manoeuvres, build the speed and control, or ride the wave for awhile.
The wave is too big and dangerous.
When the wave hits its actual peak, it may be a veritable goliath that only the most experienced surfers can ride. You may be crushed in the power of the wave by trying to ride it. A simple analogy would be investing more than you can afford, going bankrupt in the process.
There are also waves that never really break. For example:
These waves never really break. Sure, you could surf them, but you’re never going to be in the pipe, gaining speed and doing something big. An example of a swell is MySpace. If you were a marketing guru for MySpace, you were hot shit for about 2 minutes, and then you became irrelevant.
Surfing as an Analogy to Entrepreneurship in Marketing
It’s up to you to find the right wave, have the courage to stand up on your board, and stick with it until you find the wave that is going to make you millions. You may end up just surfing small waves after the big ones hit, and that can lead to a lucrative and rewarding career. But if you want to make it big as a marketer, you will need to take some risks and hope you get into the right wave at the right time.