This weekend I visited the Desert of Maine. If you have never heard of it, trust me, I know what you are thinking because up until about a week ago, I had no idea a desert was just miles from my house until I saw a postcard on a friend’s fridge from the Desert of Maine and I just had to see this for myself.
How Fertile Farmland Evolved Into A 300 Acre Desert
The story about the Desert of Maine is pretty interesting. In 1797, the Tuttles moved to the farm. Apparently, Mr. Tuttle heard of the land and after visiting, he purchased it. Mrs. Tuttle was not too pleased exclaiming that she was not leaving her home to go live on the newly purchased farm. So what did Mr. Tuttle do? He moved the entire house to Maine complete with Mrs. Tuttle.
After settling it, turns out Mr. Tuttle was a pretty good farmer. He grew vegetables, had an apple orchard and made a successful living off of his land.
When Mr. Tuttle passed away, his two sons continued to work the farm but they were not as good as farmers as their father and grew potatoes year after year. If they knew about crop rotation, they showed no signs of it and after growing potatoes on the same land year after year, the soil became eroded.
Since they could no longer grow crops, the sons purchased a herd of sheep. But they ran into another problem. Sheep graze the land not by chewing the grass like a cow, but actually ripping the plant up by the roots. Overgrazing caused pockets of sand to emerge from beneath the plants.
The combination of failure to rotate crops and overgrazing led to soil erosion that exposed a dune of sand.
In 1919, Henry Goldrup purchased the land because he thought he could do something will all the sand. He tried making bricks but the sand was so fine that the bricks crumbled. After someone jokingly exclaimed to him one afternoon ‘what are you doing to do with a desert in Maine?’ he had an idea and to this day, hundreds of visitors tour the Desert of Maine daily.
Strategy and Your Ability to Execute Upon It
Over 500,000 businesses were started last year and over 600,000 closed their doors.
So why do blogs fail? Why do businesses fail? Why do marketing campaigns fail? Why did the Tuttles fail?
The Tuttles wanted to succeed at farming and live up to their father’s expectations and provide for their family. When they failed at vegetables, they turned to potatoes and when they failed at potatoes, they turned to sheep. Their ultimate downfall was that they acted on impulse, on what they knew how to do easily, not what would make them more successful and, most critically, they did not define and act upon a strategy.
Consider your marketing strategy. First of all, do you have one? If you respond by saying you send email campaigns and write blog posts and run webinars, this is not a strategy. A strategy has a defined audience, a defined plan and a defined outcome.
Strategies can be refined and restored based upon failures and successes. One of my favorite things about being a marketer is that I am able to make predictions concerning outcomes but if I am trying something I have not done before, they are just predictions. I fail and fail often but I am not afraid to admit that and learn from it. I wonder if the Tuttles admitted failure and learned from it. After ruining their land did they learn about crop rotation, smack themselves in the head and vow to never repeat that mistake?
As a marketer, defining your strategy and executing upon it as it is defined is critical. It is critical to
- Your ability to track and report on your efforts – and
- The company and shareholders in regards to their understanding of marketing commitments
The Tuttles didn’t fail because it was easier for them to grow potatoes rather than vegetables. They failed because they simply grew them. Your campaigns do not fail because it’s easier for you to send emails than stuff envelopes. You fail because you simply send them.
Have you defined a strategy that you are executing upon? How much easier is working from a plan than shooting in the dark?