What My Asthmatic Cat Taught Me About Marketing

cat-upside-downEarly last year, my cat Smudge was diagnosed with asthma. I had a feeling something was wrong so it didn’t exactly come as a surprise. Still, all the things I had to learn and absorb about his condition were a little – okay, a lot – overwhelming.

The traditional and proven approach to feline asthma is inhaled steroidal medication, the same kind human asthmatics use. Of course, you don’t put the inhaler in their mouth and ask them to breathe it in because, well, that would be ridiculous and possibly life-threatening…for you. Instead, it’s administered through a chamber called an AeroKat. The treatment typically has few side effects and works almost one hundred percent of the time to control the disease.

However, our vet suggested we consider a new drug that had shown some promise in asthmatic cats, although it didn’t work in every cat. The upside was that we would only have to medicate him once a day versus four times a day. The downside was that the drug is a powerful immunosuppressant, making side effects more likely.

So here I was with two options: one new and promising but with no guarantees; the other proven to work but more inconvenient. What to do?

In the end, I decided to go with the tried and true inhaler treatment. And I’m glad I did. It worked like a charm and Smudge has been symptom-free for almost a year.

Okay, so what does this story have to do with marketing? A lot, actually.

In business, we have the same choice when it comes to our marketing time and dollars: stick with proven strategies or take a chance on the latest and (possibly) greatest?

These days, it seems like there’s always something new in the world of marketing, which is both exciting and overwhelming. We’re told, “Oh, you have to get on such-and-such. That’s where marketing is headed!” So, not wanting to miss out, we take a chunk of our precious marketing time and focus, and hop aboard with no proof of how it’s going to work for us. At the same time, we often abandon or dilute the approach that’s been successful all along which, in turn, causes our business (and our sanity) to suffer.

Look, I’m not saying you shouldn’t experiment with the newest Marketing Miracle. If it sounds interesting, dip your toe in. Wade around a bit. See how it works for you and your business. But be strategic about it and don’t throw over the tried and true methods for something else just because it’s new and shiny.

And whatever you do, don’t feel like a marketing failure if you have little interest in the Next Big Thing. The best marketing is the marketing you’ll do. Of course you should keep up with the times because you never know when you’ll discover something that can boost your current strategies. But there’s no shame – and much wisdom – in staying with what’s comfortable and proven to work for your business.

Your turn: What marketing tools — old or new — work best for you? Tell me in the comments.


  1. I’ll be honest, sometimes marketing completely exhausts me… posting on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and on and on but what doesn’t exhaust me and what turns out to work the absolute best results is building relationships with potential customers, hanging out where they hang out online… forums, groups, etc and giving them free advice with no expectation of receiving in return. It’s when I feel my focus + heart is truly on serving rather getting when I see the most results… funny how that happens.

    • That’s interesting, Amanda, and I think you’re absolutely spot on. The most important part of marketing is finding something that feels authentic and lets you connect and build relationships with clients and potential clients in a genuine way.

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