So I just got myself a new stand-up paddleboard (aka, SUP to the uninitiated).
Having grown up on the beach in Northern California, and reached, ahem, “a certain age,” the appeal of getting out on the water and getting a different kind of exercise — without the “aggro” competition at most surf spots — was appealing.
As with any new endeavor, I’m always curious about my progression. One of the obvious ways to measure my progress is to watch my peers. Sure, I’ve taken a few lessons and my wife gave me a great book about SUP techniques, but what do I really focus on? Other SUP-ers.
What’s their stance when paddling? What’s their stroke cadence? Are they getting to the buoy faster or slower than me? Sometimes, your peers will even offer insight to assist your own observations, as happened to yours truly. About the third time out on the ocean with the board, some of my peers assisted me in my observations and helped me callibrate my progression.
As I was confidently cruising along, an outrigger canoe powered by seven young folks passed me by. They offered the kind of encouragement one offers to a small child learning to ride a bike for the first time. Like, in my case, when the lead paddler politely yelled — in a very bright, chirpy voice — “you’ll go faster if you turn the paddle blade around.”
As it is with middle-aged hobbies, so shall it be with marketing. While there are considerably greater numbers of tools for quantifying marketing’s performance than there are for quantifying my performance as an aspiring SUP-er, calibrating your marketing effort by understanding how your peers are doing is very valuable. I don’t mean ape your competitors or peers in other industries.
What I mean is that making time to check out how your peers, or your competitors, are managing market changes, adopting new technologies or managing their marketing operations can be educational. It can help you to remain just detached enough from your day-to-day work to be objective about your performance and your team’s.