I started asking myself this question every time I felt like I was experiencing a failure in my life. Rather than dwelling on the fact that things are not going as planned I decided to look at the big picture and then relate that to what I’m doing daily to make that a reality. Some of you – especially those in the entrepreneurial community – are familiar with the 80/20 rule. That is: what are the 20% of things that are causing 80% of the stress in my life. For the past two weeks or so that twenty percent has been our crowdfunding effort and social media in general. I think half of our Twitter following is comprised of people who make their money off of crowdfunding campaigns. It’s ridiculous. What that made me realize though is that we’re not reaching our target audience. Part of the problem is that there is no target audience for what we’re doing; at least none that’s been identified in the last twenty-five years. I don’t look at that as a problem as much as I see it as an opportunity. How many times in life do you have the opportunity to create your own audience? That is exactly what we can do right now.
Now, I’ve reached out to the places where I think my target audience is. Dog blogs, dog forums, pet websites, pet stores, training experts. The one barrier that keeps us from being able to reach that audience is a universal policy against solicitations. This raised a natural question to me: how do I reach my audience if I cannot communicate with them? What’s more is that I know from researching the websites that I want to promote what we’re doing through that they don’t even know about the sport of flyball – which is what we’re trying to raise awareness about. So, what I started doing was saying: okay, as much as I disagree with your policy against raising awareness about cool new things in the pet community, why don’t you just let me write about it for your blog or website or forum and just tell your audience about it? You’d think that quality content would be greeted as something that would add value to a website. That wasn’t the case. A lot of these folks only want their writing to appear on their blog or website. That is essentially saying: hey, I don’t want to grow my audience. I only want to talk about the things I want to talk about. Again, I disagree with this, I think it’s a toxic mindset, but okay. What can I do to add value to what you’re doing? It’s that simple. Tell me one thing I can do and I’ll do it. Want me to promote your stuff? Done. If there is a way we can work together in a way that helps both parties why wouldn’t you be open to it? The answer I get: time.
I understand you’re busy. I’m pretty much running a business, a crowdfunding campaign, and making a film by myself, but I still found time to try and do something productive to raise awareness about the change we’re trying to create. What I’ve learned is that everyone has an excuse. To be clear: the difference between a reason and an excuse is that a reason is something you have when something goes well and an excuse is something you use when it does not. There will always be an excuse out there for anything and everything in life. It is so frustrating to those of us who actually work hard at things to deal with the excuses of others. You think you’re busy? No one is too busy to send a follow up e-mail. We all check our e-mail. It’s a lack of civility that keeps you from sending a response. Maybe you don’t want to say no. I get that too. Maybe you see yourself as a fundamentally good person, but sending a reply saying ‘no’ to me doesn’t make you a bad person. In fact, it doesn’t have anything to do with me or you. It’s just how we view the world. There are those who see an opportunity to help others and advance causes and those who see everything as a personal setback to what they’re trying to do in their day-to-day life. There are people in between don’t get me wrong, but I think that’s still part of the problem as well.
What I can’t seem to understand is how anyone is able to make progress amongst people who don’t want to hear them out. Maybe you can’t and you don’t. Perhaps there’s some third way that I’ve missed. That’s why I ask: what is it that I’m not doing? Who is it that I’m not reaching? What I keep thinking is: if we had larger exposure to what we’re doing then more people would believe in what it is we’re trying to accomplish. If this were a political campaign what I would diagnose this problem as is a failure in message or a failure in logistics. I think in my case it’s probably a little of both. We don’t have the systems necessary to succeed at creating the base of supporters we want to create. At the same time we don’t have the messaging apparatus necessary to engage the people that might be persuadable in our network. It’s a failure on a couple different levels really. What bothers me about this is that I can’t think of anything I’m not doing that would right the ship. I don’t like being in that position.
So, I throw it out to my readership: what am I not doing? I understand that not having a team of dedicated professionals working on this as hard as I am is a problem, but it’s not something I can do anything about. What are actionable things that I can do to raise awareness for my campaign? Again, I don’t want to spam websites and blogs and stuff and I’m not going to. I think that’s a bit of a crazy strategy, but when I read the stories of successful strategies they’re doing all the stuff that we’re doing. What I’m trying to figure out is if this is a failure of message or a failure of content. If it’s just the message that can be fixed. If it’s the content, well, that’s a whole different problem entirely.