Stacking Wood

woodpile

I’ve never owned a wood stove, so the only chopping I’ve done at a wood pile has been at my discretion. I love the feeling of an axe in my hand, and the beauty of splitting wood to be used for a fire. But that’s an illusion. I love it for an afternoon of entertainment. If my home were heated by wood, I would probably come to loathe it, would want to offload the chore onto someone who needed the money, so that I could free myself to do something more “important.”

There are many wood-stacking chores in our lives, and they’re every bit as important to the continued warmth of our “hearth.”

Prospecting For New Customers

There’s a rule of thirds that most small business people have heard, but only a few actively practice: spend 1/3 your time prospecting for new customers, 1/3 executing on whatever it is you do, and 1/3 supporting your existing customers. Most of us fall into the 2nd and 3rd parts of the equation, but we shut off the first the moment we feel busy. Of course, there’s a problem with that. In the wood stacking analogy, we’ve split and stacked all the wood we need for our fire, but we’re no longer venturing out into the countryside to chop down new trees for fuel. It works the same way in business. No fuel, no fire.

Marketing is at the heart of that prospecting, that tree-chopping. If we’re not out there seeking new customers, then we’re at jeopardy of not having people to serve. But this is only one way to look at the analogy.

Stacking Wood: A List

  • Blogging is stacking wood. More content means more readers, more search terms, more opportunities to sell.
  • Email marketing is stacking wood. Reaching out to people with useful information that maintains your relationship lures in more sales.
  • Connecting on LinkedIn is stacking wood. The larger your network, the more potential you have to help others, or find help for yourself.
  • Getting coffee with a friend is stacking wood. I owe Jon Swanson another long phone call soon.
  • Reading is stacking wood. The more I learn, the more I can improve on my execution and my abilities.
  • Fitness and nutrition are stacking wood. The more fuel you have in your body for the fire, the better your chances at success become.

You could add to this list, couldn’t you?

And how are you doing at stacking wood these days? Are you preparing and doing the chores that keep the fire tended? Or are you burning and enjoying the warmth?

ChrisBrogan.com runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Theme Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Whether you're a novice or advanced developer, Genesis provides you with the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

With automatic theme updates and world-class support included, Genesis is the smart choice for your WordPress website or blog.

Become a StudioPress Affiliate

  • kaeli

    This is a superb article. I work with a handful of clients ‘doing’ their new business and am increasingly frustrated by their lack of input into the new business process. They are all small organisations and cannot afford a full time new business person and me doing 3-5 days in the month is simply not enough (certainly not 1/3 of the time). Yes I can do a lot of the process, the strategy, the outbound proactive activity but I cannot take it all on and I cannot work in a silo! The blogging, the LinkedIn management…simply being switched on to new business and thinking about how it relates to everything they come into contact with …that needs input from everyone, we all need to be involved. Thanks Chris, now I know it is not in my head!

  • http://www.pamelahazelton.com Pamela Hazelton

    Great analogy, Chris. I did chop and stack (and toss through the shoot) wood as a kid and teenager, so, yeah, you would come to loathe the task.

    Now, however, our practices of stacking wood are actually enjoyable (if they’re not, we’re doing it wrong).

  • http://trafficcoleman.com/blog/official-black-seo-guy/ Black Seo Guy

    Chris I’m out seeking new customers all the time, because I know part of my success comes from splitting up my time to get more out of my day..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • Jenrboyd

    Great analogy! It is also possible to chop and stack wood yet neglect to light the fire. Wait too long, and it will rot. Wait just enough, and it will season.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      Also true. : )

  • http://kikolani.com/ Kristi Hines

    I’ve been stacking wood recently by focusing on not just reading new articles every day but commenting on them as well. It results in new traffic to my site which could mean new customers in the long run.

  • Anonymous

    This is an awesome article, and the metaphor hits too close to home for me!

    I’ve spend so many hours literally chopping and stacking wood in my suburban backyard since childhood. Does anyone else have one of those dads who thinks you live in the backwoods?

    I never even thought about it this way though. It’s how you place value on things that don’t have immediate cash value. Filling up the ‘pipeline’ with fuel, just like in sales.

  • Anonymous

    This is an awesome article, and the metaphor hits too close to home for me!

    I’ve spend so many hours literally chopping and stacking wood in my suburban backyard since childhood. Does anyone else have one of those dads who thinks you live in the backwoods?

    I never even thought about it this way though. It’s how you place value on things that don’t have immediate cash value. Filling up the ‘pipeline’ with fuel, just like in sales.

  • http://sitefling.com Justin Brooke

    Love this article but sometimes I think I’m out there stacking too much wood. I need to be burning more of it so I can enjoy my work. I get stuck in stacking mode, does anyone else?

    • http://twitter.com/BrandiSchoch Brandi Schoch

      I understand exactly….I don’t know when enough stacking is done.

      • http://opencrm.co.uk Thomas Chapman

        I am a wood stacker in the business I work in; there are other members of the team that are out there searching for new trees, and yet more that are making the fire, keeping everybody warm. All vital pieces of the machine to keep the fire burning.

    • http://twitter.com/BrandiSchoch Brandi Schoch

      I understand exactly….I don’t know when enough stacking is done.

    • http://twitter.com/BrandiSchoch Brandi Schoch

      I understand exactly….I don’t know when enough stacking is done.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      You could think of it like this: if all you do is stack wood, you can’t have fire. If you have no fire, you can’t eat or get heat. So, you have to BURN the wood eventually. You have to turn the prospects into buyers eventually. Otherwise, you’re just stacking and will freeze to death or die with an empty belly.

  • http://damangmedia.com/ Matt Clark – Damang Media

    I like the analogy, it is something that I only recently started paying more attention to. Reading, commenting, learning, and connecting with people. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://damangmedia.com/ Matt Clark – Damang Media

    I like the analogy, it is something that I only recently started paying more attention to. Reading, commenting, learning, and connecting with people. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://TannerChristensen.com tannerc

    Great analogy Chris. It’s important to pursue alternative means of fuel as well, don’t you think? You can’t stack wood forever (well, you could, but there are other ways to start a fire these days).

  • http://raulcolon.net Raul Colon

    I stack wood all the time the problem is the prospecting. Many of your tips have allowed me to also select where I am going to bring my wood from.

    I guess I am working on being selective especially on the prospecting part of possible clients that seem more interested than others.

    This analogy really got me thinking!

  • http://www.boiserealestateguy.com Seth Neal

    I actually grew up in rural Montana and all we had for heat was a wood burning stove! I hated it. But the one thing my brother and I learned fairly quickly was chopping and stacking (and bringing in) wood had to happen everyday unless you were OK with freezing!

    Haha! Some days we were OK with trying that out, but fortunately our dad was not.

  • http://www.dcpracticetools.com Cindi @ Chriopractic Marketing

    What would you call a person who learns best through analogies? That’s me and thanks to your magnificent analogy one chopping and stacking wood, I can honestly say; “I get it”.

    All most of us need is a little reminder of how to proportion our day or week. For me; it’s by the hour…I tend to wander. But seriously, everything you said is true…but I have to say that for me it’s about the comfort…some would say complacency. In high school it was called cliques. You tend to settle into a rhythm that you are comfortable with. The customers or followers that like what you have to offer, enjoy your quirks and relate well with your products. As far as doing what you “do” well that is a given b/c that is another comfort zone. One where you can hole up and get some productivity under your belt. Prospecting for new customers…is work. Plane and simple…and sometimes it is a chore, but I get it…chopping wood. I guess if I were really chopping wood, one of the perks would be really nice biceps and abs :) and more customers!

  • http://twitter.com/Axcell_Van Axcell

    People could cut/stack wood for hours but if done wrong, it ends up being a pile of twigs. It’s can be hard to implement new marketing strategies by yourself, so when in doubt, research and network. Stack fine oak logs, not sticks.

    • kaeli

      fires need kindling too! Sometimes getting involved in a conversation, event, blog, forum etc.. that does not directly relate to new business for yourself can ultimately yield results…so yes do research and network, but don’t just research and network – get out there and get the sparks started!

  • http://www.wevival.com Jason Stambaugh

    I’m at beginning of building my business, so I feel like I have been stacking A LOT of wood. The tough part though is figuring out which kind burns best….

  • Pingback: I don’t feel like blogging tonight

  • http://twitter.com/WebMaxed Kevin Haynes

    The MORE you stack the easier it gets and the faster it piles up!

  • http://www.DigitalSalesDoctor.com Brock Butler, D.Sc.

    Brogan! Sorry buddy, you screwed the pooch on this analogy. (Where did that phrase originate from?)

    Anyway, terrible analogy that perpetuates a fundamental problem with you in-bred marketing types… you think your goal is more wood (marketing leads). Wrong, your goal is more CUSTOMERS.

    Have you considered that if you are manufacturing steel you can stack wood till the cows come home. Until you follow a process to burn the wood to make the steel, you are not productive. Furthermore, without considering which type of wood makes the most steel, you may be stacking wood that DECREASES your output.

    Chris, there is a revolution occurring in the top ranks of marketing and sales thought-leaders that looks at marketing and sales as partners in a single REVENUE process. (Google Revenue Performance Management) Please consider your final output (customers), and your optimum revenue process, in future analogies. (Or am I being too critical of a simple message to “reach out to your community more”?)

  • Mary

    Feeling guilty that I’m stacking so much wood…but enjoying the work that brings my work to me.

  • http://www.parmfarm.com amy parmenter

    I also like the idea of stacking more wood in one season than others… preparing for the winter or the future…so that when the weather turns….not only are you ready, you welcome it. then you can burn and relax for a while…

    Amy Parmenter
    The ParmFarm

  • http://twitter.com/JudyHelfand JudyHelfand

    Indeed, there is an art to chopping and stacking wood. One housekeeping item, don’t stack it too close to your home/office/building or you might find the carpenter ants are invading your foundation. And that little insect will potentially cost you a lot of money!

    Be smart about how you approach this process. Pay attention.

  • http://twitter.com/JudyHelfand JudyHelfand

    Indeed, there is an art to chopping and stacking wood. One housekeeping item, don’t stack it too close to your home/office/building or you might find the carpenter ants are invading your foundation. And that little insect will potentially cost you a lot of money!

    Be smart about how you approach this process. Pay attention.

  • http://twitter.com/JudyHelfand JudyHelfand

    Indeed, there is an art to chopping and stacking wood. One housekeeping item, don’t stack it too close to your home/office/building or you might find the carpenter ants are invading your foundation. And that little insect will potentially cost you a lot of money!

    Be smart about how you approach this process. Pay attention.

  • http://twitter.com/PeterPaluska Peter Paluska

    Chris,

    I, too love chopping and stacking wood, as well as building and tending fires, whether they be in a fireplace or a wood stove – or a campfire, for that matter!
    And, I have also been thinking a lot lately about how these activities can serve as an apt metaphor for effective living and efficient business building. It all comes back to balance: all the activities are vitally important, with each one feeding into the next. It’s a sequence and we want to proceed through it from one task to the next, always vigilant and careful not to linger on any one stage.
    Thanks, as always, for the tremendous value spike!

    Peter

  • http://www.KarmicKappuccino.com Steve Rice

    Chris,

    This is such a great reminder. The “thirds rule” is commonsense and fairly “routine” but most of us throw it out the window when we get busy or distracted, as you pointed out.

    I wonder how our businesses would be different if we disciplined ourselves to focus on the simple rules we already know in the management and execution of our business.

  • http://twitter.com/timbickers Tim Bickers

    This really speaks to me, Chris. Thank you for starting an A List…so many times I am questioned as to why I spend so much time reading, or writing, or thinking about reading and blogging, etc…but this has given me a bit more of a concrete way of thinking about my “A List items.”

    As I run my marketing business, I am consistently stressing the importance of the 1/3′s principle; yet, when I myself get busy, I often lose sight of this. I’m going to make an A List and print it out and get it visually before my eyes daily.

    Keep chopping away!

  • http://www.bigjobsboard.com/ Brad Jobs

    I definitely agree with your post. It is natural for bloggers to flood their blogs with useful posts and articles to improve traffic, sales and exposure. Just like outside in the real world ; more work, more pay. Although sometimes this is not happening.

  • Pingback: How Many Sales Calls Did You Say? at The Integral Connection

  • http://garryowen.biz Garryc

    people tend to put off the things they do not like to do and do the things they like. but if they would do the things they don’t like to do first – they can enjoy doing the things they like to do even more.

  • http://www.danieldecker.net Daniel Decker

    I’d add that DOING A GOOD JOB is stacking wood too. Easier to retain a customer or get a new one by referral when you do a good job. That stacking is much easier when someone else is bringing the wood from time to time. :)

  • Julie Winz

    Thanks for the helpful list! I will start “stacking” today.

  • http://www.fashioncheapjewelry.com/ jewelry wholesalers

    This is such a great reminder. The “thirds rule” is commonsense and
    fairly “routine” but most of us throw it out the window when we get busy
    or distracted, as you pointed out.