Imagine for a moment you decide to want to learn to speak Mongolian.
Maybe you’ve got a month-long horseback expedition planned through the Central Asian Steppe, maybe you share my dream of bicycle touring through the region, or maybe you think it would look cool on your resume (or dating profile).
Regardless of your motivations, you begin, first learning the basics (Сайн уу) before working your way up to more complex phrases (Та шарсан сарлагыг туршиж үзэх хэрэгтэй).
Day by day, week by week you improve your vocabulary.
But how long will it take you to gain real fluency?
If you’re learning through an app or book, it might take you years (if you ever achieve full fluency at all).
And even if you move to Mongolia and immerse yourself, achieving basic fluency may still take months.
Of course, when it comes to learning a new language, we expect it to take time.
What’s more, we expect that when we begin, we’ll have no idea what we’re doing, and that for a long time, we’re going to suck at it.
The same expectation applies to learning to play the piano, or golf, or identifying plants by their latin names.
None of these pursuits are things you just passively absorb after all.
Neither is marketing.
For some reason, we as creators often behave as though marketing is something we’re just innately supposed to know how to do.
That we shouldn’t have to study and practice it as intently as we would a new language or instrument, or sport.
In many ways, however, marketing is exactly like learning a new language.
When we first start learning to speak, our phrasing will be clumsy.
Much of the time, the thing we’re trying to get across will be lost in translation. And when we do manage to get our point across, it’s far from eloquently stated.
This is part of learning a language, however, and if we ever want to achieve fluency, there’s no way around it.
Yes, it will be uncomfortable.
Yes, we’ll make a number of embarrassing faux pas.
Yes, a lot of the time we’ll feel like an idiot.
But the more we speak, the more we observe, and the more we learn to listen the greater our fluency will become.
One day, with enough practice, we might reach a point of mastery over the language of marketing.
But before we get there, we’re going to suck at it.
Better to embrace that reality and work through it than pretend it’s not the case.