Warning: this content is older than 365 days. It may be out of date and no longer relevant.

One of the “secrets” that one of my teachers, Ken Savage of the Winchendon Martial Arts Center, says is that if a technique is not working, something in the previous step went wrong. If a throw isn’t working, perhaps your footwork or positioning in the entry was wrong. If a kata (pre-arranged routine) isn’t working at a certain point, rewind just one step to see if there’s something that can be adjusted there, some effect that can be repaired so that the chain reaction of mistakes subsequent to the initial error can be prevented.

Very often as martial artists, we’ll try to force our way through a technique that is failing without going back through the chain of events to figure out where the first obvious mistake is, then taking one step back more to see the precursor events that generated the mistake. If we can do that, if we can find the pre-error conditions that create the error, all the subsequent mistakes, all the frustration, all the brute force can be done away with.

Marketing, believe it or not, is no different. One of the dangers of being focused solely on a metric like qualified leads (which is a vital, vital metric) is that we see the end result but no information about the process that generated the result. Things like web site traffic, visits to a landing page, Twitter followers, etc. are not revenue generation metrics, but are still important to the extent that they’re diagnostic metrics that illuminate where we have made mistakes.

If, for example, we look at web site traffic as a diagnostic rather than a goal, we can see the impact of social media. If we make a serious mistake with our social media efforts, we may never see it in the social context itself, but we will see it as our first obvious mistake in our web traffic statistics as a drop in traffic from social sites.

If we look at event tracking statistics like Google’s trackEvent calls on web site objects like buttons, we may see obvious changes in the number of clicks on a button that indicates a mistake has happened in the design of that page, and if we change the design, we should see the effects in the subsequent step, clicks on the button.

Like martial artists, marketers who don’t know how to diagnose their techniques resort to brute force with mixed results at best. If your solution to every marketing problem is “throw more traffic at it!” or “spend more money on ads!” or “do more SEO!” without an understanding of what’s broken in your processes and where, you’ll just waste time, energy, and resources without fixing the fundamental issues.

Whether you’re a marketer or martial artist, map out your processes and try to figure out where your first mistakes occur. Then take one step back. Start as early on in your technique as possible, and you may find that instead of having to fix all your mistakes all over the place, addressing an early-on, root cause problem may fix a bunch of things downstream and save you immense time and frustration.

Oh, and if you’re in the Winchendon, MA area, go visit the Winchendon Martial Arts Center. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better martial arts school anywhere in north central Massachusetts.

You might also enjoy:

Want to read more like this from Christopher Penn? Get updates here:

subscribe to my newsletter here

AI for Marketers Book
Get your copy of AI For Marketers

Analytics for Marketers Discussion Group
Join my Analytics for Marketers Slack Group!

Subscribe to My Free Weekly Newsletter

Subscribe to My Free Weekly Newsletter

Sign up now to the free Almost Timely Newsletter, released every weekend with the latest news about marketing, technology, analytics, data science, and AI.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

You have successfully subscribed to the Almost Timely Newsletter!