The Little Things Matter

When we dream, we're always told, "Dream big." Like Ron Weasley in the Mirror of Erised, often, our greatest desire is to be recognized as the best—the one that made the most impact. At #CTAConf, Morgan Brown, COO of Inman News, talked a lot about how marketers tend to "optimize at the edges," rather than what matters most. Are you actually moving the needle, or are you just showing up?

I’m head boy!...I am—I’m wearing the badge like Bill used to—and I’m holding the house cup and the Quidditch cup—I’m Quidditch captain, too!
— Ron Weasley, on what he sees in the Mirror of Erised, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

What if I told you that often, the most impact you can have is actually from the little things? Day by day, the small details that add up and add up as you grind away. According to Malcolm Gladwell, you need 10,000 hours of practicing the same riffs, beats, and details to become the Beatles. Whether or not the 10,000 hour rule is 100% true, the idea that you have to work to be successful stands the test of time. So pick up your marketing guitar and practice.

Take, for example, an SEO experiment. With search engine optimization, we're constantly saying: "How can we get to #1?" Whether it's with advertising or reviews, we seek to beat the system and come out on top.

Well, number one is great, but what really matters isn't that you're number one; it's that you're on the first page. (There's a worn-out dad/marketer joke out there that the best place to hide a dead body is on page 2 of Google)

So rather than focusing all of your efforts on getting to #1 for every keyword, burning out your budget, your time, and your focus—how much of your content exists on page 2? Better yet, do you have any at position #11?

That's the magical position where the smallest tweaks make the most impact. It takes about 5 minutes of optimizing to turn your #11 position into #10. A few copy changes, some keyword choices, perhaps some URL adjusting...BOOM. You're on page 1. (If you're interested in learning more about how to boost your SEO, I'd recommend anything from the Moz Blog, but especially this beginner's guide.)

Why are we spending all this time and money trying to get to #1 when that's really all that matters? That's the low-hanging fruit that will make the most impact. Then, you can move on to the next thing—and the next.

What else do we miss when we focus so much on the B.H.A.G.s (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals) that we miss the small wins that exist around us every day?

Impact is much closer than you think.