The difference between aim and result.

We live in a results-focused world.

From sports to politics, results matter. In marketing, results matter. In business, results matter. Not that it needs to be justified, but it is helpful to use some analogies. Think about sports—let’s use football. The greatest football players—Mike Ditka, Brian Urlacher, Walter Payton—are recognized as greats because of their results: yards, touchdowns, sacks, wearing a Bears uniform, etc.

What about politics? Elections are won—laws and democracies are born and mature—by results, the number of votes.

Marketing results are typically focused on revenue. Smart marketing results focus on profits. In the weeds, there are endless results we marketers love to report on: impressions, clicks, conversions, reviews, engagements, and on, and on, and on. All too often—especially in the funnel madness and social media craze—small businesses focus so hard on the result, they fail. Their marketing fails. They miss a goal. They don’t hit the metric. Their KPI’s are flat.

They fail because they are results-focused. They focus so hard on the result, all they see is the result.

Instead, consider aiming. Focus on your aim. The result will occur. You can still care about the results, still want the result, still work to achieve the result. But, your aim is your focus. Consider the definitions. Result is defined as “a consequence, effect, or outcome of something.” That something is your aim! Aim is defined as “a purpose or intention; a desired outcome.” You see the difference?

How many of you have worked as a Peace Officer or in the military, hunted, or shot a firearm for sport? The concept of aiming is actually odd to most first timers. Hold up two fingers like a “peace sign” in front of your eyes using your right hand. Now, hold up your left hand’s index finger like a “number one” eight inches or so in front of the “peace sign.” Pretend your fingernails are the sights on top of a firearm—where the fingernail of the number one is centered and in front of the fingernails of the peace sign. The way you aim is by focusing on the fingernail of the number one. The peace sign fingernails are blurry.

More relevant to our topic here, the target you are aiming at is blurry!

If you focus on the target beyond your aim, your aim—your front sight—becomes blurry. It is impossible to focus on the target and your aim at the same time! You focus on that front sight … steady does it, line it up, pull the trigger slack out slowly, deep breath in, aim is on target, squeeze. We want to see the result—the hole in paper, the ding of the steel. The result doesn’t happen if we don’t aim! If we focus on the target and blur out our front sight … we get lucky sometimes … most times we miss.

Walter Payton was great, not because he was results-focused. He did not spend everyday looking at reports of his metrics and how many touchdowns he scored or how many yards he ran. Yes—no doubt—I suspect he was keenly aware of them and they likely motivated him in a way we non-elite athletes will never understand. But, his aim—his focus—was on training, reviewing tape, becoming better, stronger, faster, smarter … he aimed and the results followed.

Marketing metrics and our culture of results are contributing to small businesses wasting money and failing. The results are important—I am not suggesting otherwise. Like Walter, you are probably and rightly keenly aware of your revenue and profits. Stop focusing on them! Start training and focusing on your front sight, your aim.

When you focus on your aim, you’ll find there is more to marketing than funnels, ads, and clicks. There is actually people, culture, and a lot of fun. Aim-focused businesses have greater successes than results-focused businesses.

What is your aim?