Marketing, bicycling and Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I wasn’t thinking of Robert Frost or of marketing when I started my bike ride Saturday morning. But along the way, I kept smiling at all the ways my ride resembled good marketing advice. Ride along with me, won’t you?

I started with a plan (marketers love plans): Start at Lower Providence Park (in Oaks, PA) and ride to and through Valley Forge. While I was getting gear out of my car, my bike fell and my handlebar mirror snapped off, unusable. I like to see what’s coming up behind me, so I was not happy about this.

I haven’t been on the trail in Oaks for a while, so I was surprised when I came across a fork in the trail—one way leading to my old familiar route and one path leading to a new route, Phoenixville.

I decided to take the new route. Not much thought went into it really. I approached it and thought, “Why not? I can always turn around.”

And I almost did turn around when the smell of sewage or putrid, stagnant river water polluted the first part of the ride. But I thought, “It can’t smell this bad for long.” Luckily, I was right.

About halfway to Phoenixville, the trail stopped and, according to the park sign, I had to go on the road for a while to get to the other part of the trail. I was a little nervous because I had no mirror. With drivers these days, you never know when you’ll have to make quick, evasive maneuvers. I decided to risk it.

I also had no idea where I was. This neighborhood was new ground for me.

The road had directional bike route signs that led into Phoenixville, right near the canal. I had always been curious as to what was down the road where the canal sign was, so I was happy to suddenly recognize where I was. On one side of me was a narrow river channel, and on the other side were woods, separating me from more water.Picture of the canal

Immediately, I came upon a man painting. His canvas was at least 3 feet tall and his painting of a red house at the riverside was gorgeous. Dressed in black, leaning over his oils, with a slightly battered straw hat shading him from the sun, the artist would’ve fit perfectly within his own painting.

You’re probably thinking, well, that’s nice but where are the marketing lessons?

Well, too many marketers push their “innovative products” or “integrated solutions” and claim they “think outside the box.” Cliché, cliché, cliché.

Time to do something new. These lessons are good for marketers, business owners, artists, writers and more.

  1. Take the path less traveled. Sure, it’s risky, but it’s also different. And you want to stand out, right? Sometimes you have to ditch your plan and be open to taking a new path.
  2. Keep pedaling through the hard parts. At first, things might stink, but if you keep working at it, you’ll be rewarded. Immediate gratification is for five-year-olds, not marketers or business owners.
  3. Once you choose a path, don’t look back. Not having a rearview mirror can be a good thing. If you spend too much time studying what you’ve done before or worrying about the competition coming up behind you, you’ll lose sight of what’s in front of you.
  4. Inspiration is everywhere. You just have to open your eyes and your mind to see it.

So ride, walk, work, and choose new paths every day. You never know which one will make all the difference.

***************

The excerpt at the beginning of my blog is from Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken.” In case you don’t know who Robert Frost is, here’s a link to learn more. The artist I met is Larry Francis. Check out his work too. Enjoy!

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