Marketing Lessons from an Amateur Gardener


Article by Joan FriedlanderHave you noticed there seems to be a fine dance between taking specific strategic actions to cause your intended results, and having an attitude of faith and trust in order to allow the results to manifest?

For almost a year, I have been engaged in a grand experiment to discover which is actually most important, or if one is even more important than the other. I’ve noticed that sometimes I’ll focus my activities towards one goal and see additional results in a seemingly unrelated area. Sometimes I simply have to say what I want and it happens, even when I forget I said it. At other times I take “the right” actions and my results fall short.

I’ve been thinking about the garden metaphor for quite a while, as it seems to represent the mystery of the equation. Recently I’ve shared the analogy as a way to encourage participants in my GET CLIENTS NOW! programs, and they are benefiting from it. It’s helped to ease the tendency we share to focus primarily on what we do to accomplish our goals, and on whether or not we accomplished them within the time frame we established.

Introducing the Amateur Gardener

Last year I planted my first flower garden and this year my first vegetable garden. My purpose was twofold. I wanted to create some beauty in the front of my house (flowers) and then I wanted to try my hand at growing food (vegetables). I had a second purpose. I wanted to create a symbolic, kinesthetic experience of setting big goals and seeing them bloom. I, my friends, am your amateur gardener.

As I engage in the question of nature vs. nurture, I notice the following similarities between the steps to grow a bountiful garden and a successful business.

Research and development: I purchased books, planned for my garden, and prepared the soil.

Trial and error with my target market definition, my ideal client: It took me 3 replants with over a year’s period of time to find flowers that 1) thrive in the front of my house, and 2) that I like to look at.

I didn’t give up at the first sign of possible failure: When one thing didn’t work I tried another.

Strategic alliances and centers of influence: When I needed it, I asked for help and advice from my local expert in the garden shop.

Following up: I watered fairly regularly (though not perfectly), weeded and applied Miracle-Gro once in a while. I visited my garden (clients and prospects) on a regular basis.

Appreciation: I love to look at the flowers and am in awe of what I created. My garden looks like no other on the block and certainly isn’t perfect, but it is thriving.

Dealing with resistance: My flower garden is not quite filled in. All that’s left is to find and plant the larger back row plants against the house. They seem particularly important. Just today I realized that I may be resisting committing to those final plants, to actually accomplish my goal. Hmm.

“Germinations” from the Vegetable Garden

The vegetable garden provided additional food for thought. The corn knew just what the corn needed to do to become corn. All I needed to do was prepare the soil, follow the directions for planting and water regularly. Not all the corn matured, but what did was mighty tasty and I rejoiced. I notice I didn’t fret over the corn that didn’t ripen, wondering what I did wrong. I am not always so accepting when prospects don’t become clients.

The tomatoes provided my last lesson. A few weeks ago the first of the tomatoes ripened. Then nothing. I had a bunch of green tomatoes looking big and lovely. But would they ripen? So I just kept watering and low and behold — bright red delicious tomatoes!

What do you think?

I think that many people in business today are engaged in similar inquiries. What have you noticed about the balance between inspiration and perspiration, between visualizing your results and doing the “right” things? And how can you, or do you, use the metaphor of the gardener in building your own business?

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