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Hi! I'm Sarah Moon!

A Truckload of Gravel 🚛

publishedabout 1 month ago
4 min read

Hello Reader,

Recently, my mom (Hi, Mom! 👋) reminded me of a story from my childhood that I couldn't help but share. (It's funny.)

I grew up in a very rural community in Oregon, think farms and tractors and horses. As a rural community, my tiny k-8 school had a huge annual fundraiser. You guessed it, a community BINGO! event. (For folks who haven't experienced it, BINGO! is a silly game of chance, you can read about it here.) The annual BINGO! fundraiser was a big deal—everyone went, businesses contributed prizes, it was much anticipated.

One year, the grand prize was a truckload of gravel, value: $500 United States dollars.

Again, remember, this is very rural America. People were pumped about this truckload of gravel. Including my mother.

Now, we did not live on a farm, we just lived in a normal house—yes, on a dirt road, but our need for a large volume of gravel was minimal at best.

But my mother (like her daughter) is a smidgen competitive. She likes to win. (And to her, luck has nothing to do with her BINGO! prowess.)

All night, my mom raked in the winnings. A pizza. Some flower baskets. I seem to recall a Dairy Queen gift certificate (who doesn't love a Blizzard, am I right?).

After several hours of BINGO!, it was time for the grand prize.

Mom went all in. Got a bunch of BINGO! cards, had her stampers ready.

And you guessed it: Mom won that truckload of gravel.

Immediately, some of our community's most upstanding citizens swarmed my mom, offering her cold, hard cash for it.

But it was my mom's gravel and she won it, so it was going home with her.

A few days later, the gravel arrived.

Are you aware of just how much gravel is in an entire dump truck? It's a WHOLE LOT of gravel. More gravel than anyone could ever use. Unless they had a farm—which, you'll recall, we did not.

It filled our entire driveway. There was gravel everywhere. We didn't know what to do with it. How do you even move that much gravel? Did we know anyone who needed to make cement?

We had no answers. And a big problem. A big problem in the form of a mountain of gravel.

First of all, I'm sharing this story because it's hilarious. My mom reminded me of it and I said, "I have got to tell this story more." And we both laughed hysterically. So here you go. Enjoy the story of too much gravel and too much competitive zeal at a rural BINGO! game in Oregon in the early 90s.

But, I also said to my mom, "I can make the corniest business fable out of this—just watch me!" Which my mom was delighted by (she loves it when she makes it into my newsletter).

My mom's truckload of gravel problem is exactly what happens when you have the wrong leads and audience in your business. Trust me, I've been there.

Here's what happens if a misaligned audience or misaligned leads end up in your metaphorical business driveway:

👉 You get bogged down in triaging poor fit leads

👉 You spend too much time making referrals, and sending them to free resources

👉 Your perception of what people want becomes clouded because all you can see is this pile of wrong leads

👉 You get feedback from an audience you can't or don't want to serve

👉 You make decisions based on what that wrong audience wants—so that bad fit situation escalates

Real talk? You'll eventually hate your business. (Just like my mom did her ill-begotten BINGO! win.)

Like my mom's truckload of gravel, it seems exciting when you do something (say making Reels or implementing SEO) that attracts lots of people to your virtual front door. But sometimes it's... well, not!

For example, over the last six months or so, I've worked very hard to reduce the number of people who come onto our website. We ranked off the charts for searches that brought in people who needed tech help and lower cost website services, so I spent a lot of time writing personalized "Sorry, we can't help but here are two people who can" messages to people. Which then ate into my own time for our marketing and serving our clients. No good!

So, now we have few leads and less traffic, but our ratio of people we help to leads to traffic is better than it was and our response times to inquiries is shorter, etc etc etc. The benefits of avoiding exposure to the wrong audience and collecting vanity metrics are impossible to even count, but they're not insignificant.

Which means that the next time you're tempted by a new marketing tactic, ask yourself if it will get you in front of your dream audience, if it will match you with clients you love, or if it will just add one more thing to your list.

What data do you have that supports making this move? Is it just Shiny Object Gravel Syndrome?

Oh, and that truckload of gravel? It stayed in our driveway until I was in high school—my mom slowly shoveled it, one wheelbarrow at a time, onto our dirt road (which turned it into a gravel road, I guess).

Warmly,

Sarah

Do you have a tough challenge you'd like to tackle with purpose and focus?


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