What Walking on Broken Glass Taught Me About Search Marketing

You’re probably wondering how on earth walking on broken glass has anything at all to do with search marketing. If I was you, I’d be wondering the same thing! On Saturday I attended a business leader’s workshop where we discussed going outside our comfort zones; an important step for any business owner looking to build their business. Whether it’s getting your first website, starting to network, employing more staff or beginning your journey into online marketing – if you’re doing something new, you’re bound to feel at least a little bit uncomfortable.

So, what’s with the broken glass?

The organisers of the business and personal growth event, to illustrate a very important point, decided that to demonstrate that ‘anything was possible’, we should all walk across a few meters of broken glass. Sure, “Why not?” I thought – “I don’t need my toes!”.

Initially no one wanted to volunteer, after all it was broken shards of glass, and many people have had a bad experience with a nasty glass cut sometime in their lives. But seeing is believing, and after one of the organisers walked ever so slowly and carefully across the glass, with pieces cracking and splintering under his feet, the crowd began to change. Looks of concern and worry turned to looks of amazement and surprise (with a little bit of shock thrown in), as this gentleman walked step by step across the glass and made it to the other side.

If the motivation is strong enough, you’ll take action.

Looking at the glass and watching him walk over it I thought: “I can do that easy”. But even so, I was hesitant to be the first attendee to step forward. (Did I mention we had to sign a waiver at the beginning of the session??). But I had been to an online marketing seminar the day before and thought – a video of the director of my company walking across broken glass would make great, shareable content to market online (thanks James), a great email topic to send to our clients, a great blog post, and would be a fantastic re-tweetable topic, so with that extra motivation, the shoes came off!

Back to the glass, and how it relates to search marketing

As I stood and watched person after person nervously walk up to the glass and take deep breaths, focus and walk delicately to the other side, one after another, and saw the elation and excitement as they all made it – I realised that it was much like search marketing. How? Let me explain.

I liken it to jumping in the deep end. If any one of us were to have gotten a run up and jumped in the middle of the broken glass, or tried hastily marching our way across – we would have surely cut our feet into pieces, which is what many companies do when they first get into online marketing – taking something they’ve heard from a friend or associate (often someone without actual knowledge or experience in the industry) and running with it to try and increase the visitors coming to their websites, sometimes with dire consequences.

But if your take your time, assess the whole scenario, plan your direction, and take strategic steps that allow you to achieve your goal (in this case: making it to the other side), step by step concentrating on one thing at a time, you’re going to ease in gently, gaining more confidence and direction with each step until finally you achieve your goal.

Don’t try this at home

And then it was my turn, with my motivation strong enough (the lure of some good, unique online creative content combined with my new 2011 goal of being more adventurous), I stepped up to the line.

With 40 odd people watching I took the first step, placed my foot on the glass and felt the cool spiky chunks crack and break under my weight. I looked forward and gently took a step placing my other foot forward onto the glass, so far so good. Realising that I was doing ok, I started to feel more confident and continued to walk calmly step by step to the other side of the broken glass. SUCCESS – I had made it, and with no cuts either! (However I don’t suggest you try this at home!)

I must say, it was a great feeling – I had entered an unfamiliar realm, eased my way in, gained some confidence, and achieved my goal – much like you should do when entering the world of online marketing. Choose a goal, take a few gentle steps and get to the other side without any damage, and then, with a bit more confidence continue taking steps until your ultimate goals are being achieved.

Now fire walking, that’s a whole new kettle of fish, one which I’m still considering boiling! Luke

P.S. I know you want to see the video – so here it is!