5 Extreme Makeover lessons for online marketing

5 Extreme Makeover lessons for online marketing
Tony's first workout on Extreme Makeover.

Photo courtesy of ABC / CRAIG SJODIN

Tony weighed 398 pounds when Extreme Makeover sought him out.

He was engaged. He lived in his fiancé’s apartment, which the makeover team redecorated and outfitted with exercise equipment. He had a nutritionist to teach him to cook and a trainer to motivate him to succeed. He was confident the weight loss would help him find employment.

Within three months, he lost 100 pounds.

Within six months, he was single, homeless and still jobless. And then his son died.

When real life smashes against big goals, the best-laid plans splinter. It happens in personal life; it happens in work life.

For the entrepreneurs in online marketing, the two are intertwined, if only because of the hours per day often necessary to succeed. And for anyone in online marketing, it happens with every major Google search algorithm change or AdWords update or social media fad.

When things can change dramatically at any moment—and do—it’s easy to lose sight of the big goal. For online marketers, the big goal is always helping to make your clients or companies money. Always. When things change, and you need a new strategy, it will help to keep the big goal in mind.

Take a few lessons from Tony.

Vital lessons from ‘Extreme Makeover’

1. Set stretch goals.

What Tony did: Tony’s big goal was to weigh 199 pounds or less by his 50th birthday. To lose more than 200 pounds in less than a year sounds impossible. Even though he missed one of his progress targets, by the end of the year he had met his goal.

What you can do: If the needle is not moving, have you set the bar high enough? Get aggressive with your campaigns. Take at least one thing and do a full-court press on it. You’ll be surprised what you can accomplish with focused attention.

Even if you fail in a short-term goal, remember the big goal, and keep working toward that.

2. Work with what you can control.

What Tony did: Tony couldn’t control his lonely childhood or that his oldest son was born with cerebral palsy. When his eating got out of control, he didn’t stop it, even as his belly stretched toward his knees. But once he decided to lose the weight that he had carried for more than 30 years and start a demanding exercise regimen, he put himself back in control. He wouldn’t let anything stop him—including the fiancé who was less than enthusiastic—and he ended a once-promising relationship that had no future.

What you can do: Even if you have an inkling that a major Google search algorithm has happened or an AdWords update is coming, you have no control over when it drops and what it affects. Once a change hits, you have to take a moment to take stock. Are there significant changes you need to make to the way you do business? Are there strategies you should embrace or abandon? Are there relationships that don’t hold value for you anymore?

How you behave after a change is what you can control. Make adjustments, even tough ones, if necessary.

3. Put your eggs in different baskets.

What Tony did: For several weeks during his journey, Tony was homeless, sleeping in his car in a parking garage. That expensive cardio and weight training equipment? Gone. He worked out in a local park for free. Whatever path led to success, Tony was going to take it.

What you can do: SEO, PPC, display advertising, content marketing, public relations, email marketing, social media: all are a means to driving traffic to a website and increasing conversions. Within each discipline, strategies are constantly evolving. If a strategy that worked for you last year is tanking for you this year, take another path. If you relied on Google for 90% of your traffic, for example, and an algorithm update wiped it out, find another tactic.

The goal is the thing, not the way you get there.

4. Ask for help.

true hug, by thedimka, via flickr

Photo courtesy of thedimka, via Flickr

What Tony did: No one can handle so many significant life changes alone. And although Tony started a new relationship, it wasn’t enough to cope with his son’s death. Eventually, he reached out to the show’s trainer to ask for therapy—something he had been offered many times but had always rejected. With therapy, he got back on track.

What you can do: When changes happens suddenly, often shockingly, SEOs reach out to each other in forums, in community groups, in comments on blog posts and more. What about email marketers? Content marketers? Social media marketers? Do you reach out to others when something changes your profession or strategy? If there’s not a meetup group in your area, start one. If there’s not a formal Twitter chat, set one up. Start a Google Group, or start a conversation on LinkedIn. And if you don’t have time for any of that, simply maintain a networking email list with 3-4 people on it and send group emails when things happen.

Staying connected and asking for help is especially important if you’re an in-house online marketer with little internal support.

5. Don’t give up.

What Tony did: Destitution didn’t damper Tony’s determination. He got sidetracked for a while, but he didn’t give up. Tony lost exactly 200 pounds by his 50th birthday, and he was rewarded with good health and a $50,000 Walmart gift card. It’s been two years, and Tony has kept the weight off.

What you can do: Quite simply, don’t give up. Set aggressive goals; change the things you can control, instead of worrying about what you can’t; have diverse strategies and ditch the ones that aren’t working; and ask for help. Then don’t give up.

You’ll reap the rewards that come from learning and experience, and your clients will continue to pay you good money for your services.

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Arienne Holland

Arienne has spent 20 years in communications, ranging from graphic design to journalism to PR to marketing and formerly Raven's Director of Marketing and Education.

Arienne has spent 20 years in communications, ranging from graphic design to journalism to PR to marketing and formerly Raven's Director of Marketing and Education.

  • monica

    Wow,very inspiring story. I will definitely keep in mind the lessons taught here. Thank you for posting this