Ever see a really great pool player in action?
Yesterday I was listening to a classic lecture by master copywriter Eugene Schwartz. He made a great analogy:
Marketing is like playing pool. You can't just think about the shot you're making—you have to think at least one shot ahead.
There's a great Youtube video by trick shooter Andy “The Magic Man” Segal that illustrates this:
Andy is amazing. He has pinpoint control of the cue ball, and he's always thinking three steps ahead.
The first shot he makes in the video is easy and obvious—the cue ball is perfectly positioned to nudge the two ball into the corner pocket.
Now I'm about as far from a pool shark as it gets, so I'd have just taken the shot and let the cue ball ricochet around the table.
Andy doesn't do that.
He knows he wants to sink the two ball and set himself up to put the three ball in the side pocket. And after that he knows he needs to be at the far end of the table to sink the eight ball in the corner for the win.
(This is why I'm not a professional pool player.)
Lots of entrepreneurs make my mistake—with their marketing.
It's really easy to get focused on one particular marketing problem and forget that the early steps in your marketing funnel set up the later steps.
Take email courses for example.
A common mistake I see is this:
You decide that you want to create an email course to help you get people to sign up for your list.
So you sit down and think about what you could teach that people in your audience would be interested in. You remember that people are always asking you about a particular topic, so you sit down and bang out a half dozen emails.
And at the end, you decide you want to put a pitch for your product. Except, shoot, you can't really think of a way to transition smoothly into talking about your product.
No matter what you try, it feels forced and unnatural. (This is where most people throw up their hands and say, “I hate selling!”)
When you're putting together any marketing campaign, you have to think two or three shots ahead.
What's the next step you want the reader to take? And the one after that? Then build your campaign toward that goal.
Otherwise you'll realize that the ball's at the wrong end of the table, and there's no graceful way to make the shot.