Don’t waste your time chasing butterflies. Mend your garden and the butterflies will come. 

-Mario Quintana

Born in 1906, Mário de Miranda Quintana was a Brazilian writer and translator who became known as the poet of “simple things.” Long before technology and the internet revolutionized the world, Mário was aware of a simple truth: Butterflies/Nature/People will come to you naturally if you give them a reason to.

It’s the perfect analogy for the online marketing world and most forms of Digital Marketing. So many companies spend their time running in circles with a net, chasing (away) customers by trapping them with unwanted advertisements. Would you rather try to sell to one angry bee in a net or a colony of happy regulars?

Lets break this analogy down into its various parts:

The Garden: Your Online Presence

The garden as a whole represents your company’s online presence (website, social media accounts, blog, etc). Like your garden, your online presence requires daily attention. If you aren’t fully committed, your plants will never stand a chance. But if you nurture them regularly, they’ll become increasingly resilient and eventually bear fruit. But you can’t tell a plant, “It’s time for a tomato now,” and stick your hand out. The garden will provide when it’s ready. It’s up to you to give it the best care and support you can until that day.

Not everyone has a green thumb. Most people just don’t have the free time required to nurture a healthy garden, that’s why they hire gardeners.

Pollinators: Customers

Like pollinators, customers come in several forms and don’t like to be harassed. If your yard is full of grass, why would they bother stopping? Sure your grass is green and evenly trimmed, but it doesn’t offer them anything. You know that maintaining a nice lawn takes time and effort, but they could care less and now you look like every other house on the block.

Now consider those same pollinators passing over a yard full of brightly colored flowers…jackpot. They decend on your garden, hopping from plant to plant, then bring your offerings home to share with everyone they know. Without pollinators, your plants won’t produce any food. If that happens, what was the point of the garden in the first place?

Soil: Your Brand

Good luck getting a seed to grow without soil. The same is true for your business without a clear and consistent brand. Your brand/soil is where everything starts, and once your business has grown, it’s what keeps you grounded and on message when the winds of change start to blow.

When you plant a garden, you don’t just walk through the backyard randomly scattering seeds. Why? Because the soil is better in some areas and some parts of the yard get better sun.

Creating and sticking to your brand is a similar process. Your brand is your foundation. It’s comprised of your business’ values, goals, and what makes it unique. Choose wisely, you aren’t going to move your garden once it’s planted. As your business and online accounts grow, they will always stay deeply rooted in your brand.

Plants: Social Media

Every plant starts as a seed. (Excluding a few asexuals and spore-producers, in case any botanists are reading) This is a fragile stage. Many seedlings never even break the surface.

Like plants, your social media channels go through a variety of stages. Trying to rush it on to the next stage before it’s ready can have dire consequences.

When your plant is young, it’s important to treat it delicately. If you pull it out of the greenhouse and stick it in the ground in March, you can dump all

Fruit/Vegetables: Profits

It should come as no surprise that the fruits of your labor are represented by the fruit and veggies in this analogy.

Isn’t the whole point of a garden to eventually have something to eat? It may seem like we don’t put a lot of focus on profits at Karma PR, but that’s far from the case. The way we see it, the path to profits is much shorter on a straight, steady path vs zig-zagging back and forth chasing butterflies with a net.

Sure, it might not happen overnight. But a healthy strawberry patch will produce more and more berries every year. If all of your marketing campaigns are annuals, you’ll have to replant every year. Continue to nurture your perennials regularly and you’ll have fruit for a lifetime.

Water: Content Creation

Your plants need water to survive. Likewise, a social media account without content is dead on arrival. What is content? Anything that your customers might find interesting: a photo, funny anecdote, an informational blog post, you name it.

If you don’t water your social media accounts with intriguing content on a regular basis, they will hemorrhage followers, wilt, die. What pollinator wants to land on a struggling plant without flowers? “Why bother…” they think as they fly by. If you aren’t offering your followers interesting content, they won’t come back to spread your pollen.

Fertilizer: Ad Spend

Not everyone needs fertilizer. Some businesses are happy with a modest, productive garden. This can be achieved through dedication and consistency, with few exceptions.

However, many gardeners want to see progress FAST and some want to see their garden turn into a farm someday. That’s where fertilizer comes in.

There are a few different types of fertilizer. In our analogy those can be anything from paid ads to promotional giveaways. Fertilizer will help ensure your garden meets your expectations. Just make sure you aren’t paying for fertilizer that isn’t good for your specific plants. If you’re paying to promote ads that aren’t genuinely beneficial to your audience, you’re wasting your money and hurting your plants.

Trellis = Marketing Team

Most marketing agencies act like gardeners, showing up week after week to trim the hedges until you eventually move away. We like to think of ourselves as more of a trellis. We’re there to provide structure, help you stay on target and give you a hand when you’re ready to move to the next level.

We can fill the gardener role if that’s what your business needs, but we’ve found that most clients appreciate an opportunity to serve themselves, and save a boatload of money in the process.

Summary

This analogy is intended to help you understand a philosophy, not provide a detailed roadmap. Each specific analogy is fairly irrelevant. The important takeaway is that your online presence is not “special.” People won’t follow or interact with you just because you posted something. You need to think from their perspective to understand how to appeal to them. Then be consistent.

Are you wasting your time running around in circles with a net? Maybe it’s time to consider a less exhausting plan.