As a lawyer, what would you say is your primary focus in the day to day?
Do you look back on the previous failures of old cases and wonder what you could’ve done differently?
Do you look ahead at your current cases and think, “I’ve been on a good streak here. We’ll probably win this next one too.”?
Or do you focus on the process of gathering the facts, building your argument, and planning a counterattack against whatever gets thrown at you?
In order to do what you do, you need to be able to think practically and be strategic in your approach. Without that sense of logic and order and control, you’d likely be too distracted by everything else swirling around you—and you can’t afford that. In fact, I’d argue that no one who’s serious about their business can afford that.
This process-oriented approach to work is what’s known as process thinking. Process thinking is “a philosophy that emphasizes preparation and hard work over consideration of outcomes or results”. Now, that’s not to say that you don’t care what the verdict of your cases will be. Of course you do; that’s what motivates you to work so hard to defend your clients.
But proponents of process thinking believe that focusing too much on that end result can detract from successfully getting there. This is something that’s used heavily in sports, thanks to coach Nick Saban, and it’s something I’d argue has a place in marketing, too.
Proof That It’s the Process and Not the Results That Lead to Success
One of the more famous supporters and implementers of process thinking is Nick Saban. The story about how he came to develop “The Process” and change the face of college football is an interesting one.
Before he became the coach at the University of Alabama (which also happens to be my alma mater), Saban coached for Michigan State University. As the team prepared for an upcoming game against the Ohio State Buckeyes, he turned to his friend Dr. Lionel Rosen, a psychiatry professor, for help. The players were nervous and their lack of confidence was showing. Saban wanted to see if there was anything Rosen could do to turn that around.
This is when The Process was developed.
“Rosen emphasized that the average play in the football game lasted about seven seconds. The players would concentrate only on winning those seconds, take a rest between plays, then do it all over again. There would be no focus at all on the scoreboard or on the end results.”
Despite having a rough start to that game, Michigan State was able to systematically disable the Buckeyes through the use of Saban’s and Rosen’s “Process”. They stopped worrying about that final score and just focused on each play. In the end, they beat the Buckeyes, 28 to 24.
As Saban moved on to work with other teams, he continued to find that The Process worked, so much so that he led the University of Alabama to three BCS championships and an SEC title many years later.
Why You Shouldn’t Worry About the End Results in Marketing
I often notice that lawyers (as well as many of the other clients I work with) struggle with this concept of process thinking in marketing. Which I totally get. You’re investing money in something that has to pay off in the end. And so it becomes stressful and you unintentionally focus on things like:
- How many visitors will my site get?
- How many people will call us after the Facebook ads run?
- How long before the search engines put us at the top of results?
But as process thinking and Nick Saban’s history with his own “Process” have shown, you can’t afford to let your brain go there. And the reason for it is simple: thinking about the past or the future as you work on achieving a goal is futile. These distractors cause an emotional reaction, which can keep you from handling the task at hand.
All you can do is take it step by step, day by day. Sure, it’s okay to glance up every now and again to make sure you’re still heading the right way, but then it’s time to put the blinders back on.
I think lawyers are at an advantage when it comes to tackling online marketing with process thinking. It’s already in your nature to work this way.
So, the next time you take a look at your marketing strategy, view it as you would a case. Think about how you can break it down into smaller, more logical, and more manageable pieces. Break up your website optimization based on top (e.g. speed, images, SEO, user flow). Handle the various phases of content creation separately. Spend time on specialized tasks like link building. Just keep in mind that the goal here is to give each task 100%. The marketing wins will follow.