You may have heard of the 90 day rule for dating, but there’s also a 90 day rule in business, and it’s worth knowing.
What you do today will influence your business in 90 days. What’s going on in your business now is the result largely of what you did 90 days ago.
The internet can respond faster than that, so it’s easy for us to overlook this classic rule of thumb and expect results faster. It’s easy for us to look at our website’s analytics and expect that what we’re seeing has something to do with what we did yesterday. Sometimes that’s true.
For example, when we do a live site refresh, we typically see significant improvements in traffic within two weeks. Start blogging and you should see increased traffic to your website within the same time frame. Ads online or a viral social media post can show big changes at your website within days.
But people haven’t changed just because communication has. Most people still require 7-12 contacts with a message before they will take action on that message.
That increased traffic? It’s made up of individuals. Some may come back to your website every day for a week and call you right up. Others will come a few times in one week, then go away and discuss things with colleagues, connect with you on social media, read your reviews, and then set up a meeting with their board to discuss contacting you. Still others will come to your website every week or so till they hit that twelfth visit.
Then think of all the things that take place in the physical world that you don’t see: checking out your product (and your competitors) at physical stores, using up the product they already have, holding that board meeting, analyzing their finances, asking their sister’s opinion, finishing a project that’s taking all their attention right now, waiting for payday… Like so many other things in life, the path to purchase isn’t all about you, even when it’s your product or service.
Of course it depends on what you’re selling. People buy shoes on a whim, not cars. They might choose a dog groomer in one day, but not a surgeon.
Why does it matter?
- Realistic expectations We hate to see people give up right before they succeed. We’ve done it ourselves, actually — dropped a campaign that didn’t get the traction we wanted online, and then 90 days later found ourselves saying, “Where are all these leads coming from?” Dropping a marketing initiative too early means you don’t get the ongoing benefits, or even the maximum one-time benefits you could have had.
- Accurate tracking If you don’t know the 90 day rule, you have that, “Where are these leads coming from?” moment, and you can’t find the answer. You don’t look far enough back to see the actions you took. This can be especially true with online marketing, since we’re used to seeing faster results. The stuff you did last quarter… you can hardly remember that, let alone bring it to mind as an influencer of the results we’re seeing now.
- Bad decisions Especially in cases where you dropped a marketing effort prematurely, you may end up seeing only a spike in sales or leads, since you didn’t keep going long enough to get lasting results. You may attribute the spike to something you did more recently, repeat the action you mistakenly identify as the cause of the spike, fail to recreate the results, and draw false conclusions. If you continue to act on those false conclusions — well, you can see where this is going.
Remember the 90 day rule in business, whether you follow it in your personal life or not.