What is it about marketing that we don't get? Almost all of us, Peter Drucker included, understand that marketing is important (dare I say critical?) to the success of our business.

Drucker wrote, "Because its purpose is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two – and only these two – basic functions: marketing and innovation." Yet we (and even though I am a marketing gunslinger, I include myself) don't devote the time nor the energy to develop and implement daily, ongoing marketing systems.

I remember many years ago crying the blues to my friend, Nido Qubein, that I couldn't get my business out of a repeating three month up and down roller coaster. I explained that when I wasn't busy I was able to dedicate time selling and marketing. This always had a three month lag before seeing results. Then I'd be really busy speaking and consulting, so I wouldn't have time to market myself. Sure enough, three months later, I wasn't busy and had time to market. Every three months was either feast or famine.

Nido matter-of-factly said, "Look Steve, the most important time for you to market yourself is when you are busiest, otherwise you'll never get out of that up-down cycle."

He was right. No matter how busy I am, I MUST make time every single day to keep Filling The Funnel.

Many of you have participated in my periodic 10-Second Surveys and over the last year I've done three with surprising results. Each consisted of one question. Let me share those with you.

1. Please rate the following marketing tools regarding their importance in generating NEW business for your company. Scale 1 (lowest) – 7 (highest).

Referral marketing – 5.86

Internet – 5.85

Trade shows – 5.31

Public relations – 5.18

Email marketing – 5.16

Direct mail – 4.53

Trade ads – 3.97

Cold calling – 3.56

Telemarketing – 3.12


3. Do you currently have a formal referral marketing strategy?

Yes – 26.8%

No – 73.2%


3. How would you rate yourself on each of these business growth components? (Same scale as question #1.)

Getting customers to spend more each time – 3.93

Creating new customers – 3.82

Generating referrals – 3.71

Getting customers to buy more often – 3.64


Question #1 reinforces what we already know. Referrals are critical to our success and are always rated as most important. Yet 73.2% of us have no formally designed referral marketing strategy!

And we can't discount the other tools available when we consider the fact that there are only four ways to grow our business, as listed in question #4. Yet, clearly, we rate ourselves in these areas as pretty dismal.

Why is this? Why do we let this happen to ourselves when we know better? I would say most of us are rational people. We understand the logical difference between something that's Vital and something Urgent. And just in case you don't, yes, there is a difference.

I believe the answer lies in the condition known as the Tyranny of the Urgent. First identified in 1967 by Christian author Charles Hummel, its simple premise is that we are overloaded with top priorities screaming in our ears like fire alarms. They scream so loud we can't focus on the Vital tasks. Vitals tasks, like marketing, tend to be long-term driven so we con ourselves into thinking, "I'll get to that just as soon as I take care of this Urgent matter." But this Urgent matter is quickly replaced by another Urgent matter and another and another! Vital's voice is drowned out.

We need to convince ourselves that Marketing is both Vital and Urgent, because it is. Every day we need to invest our first 60, 90, or 120 minutes focused on marketing our business so we can continue filling the funnel. Filling the funnel keeps us alive and growing. Filling the funnel has impact. Booking an airline ticket, working on next year's budget, checking email, or outlining a Powerpoint presentation can be done later…after the marketing is done.