Results vs. Activity

This idea woke me up Saturday morning sometime before 5 AM.

I say “sometime” because it was dark and I really didn’t want to know what time it was.

I just wanted to go back to sleep, but the thought literally wouldn’t let me. After quite a bit of internal resistance, I finally rolled over and scribbled the words “Results vs. Activity” in the notepad I keep by my bed.

So what does it mean? Because I’ve worked with so many entrepreneurs over the years – hundreds directly and many thousands indirectly – I’ve had a chance to see what works and what doesn’t in business.

Many people – including me sometimes – are under the mistaken impression that “busy-ness” is the same thing as business. When they do this they’re making a very fundamental mistake.

Business is not about activity, it’s about results.

Like a unguided missile, many people launch themselves on a trajectory of what they think is dilligent activity assuming that activity alone is going to get them to a happy place. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Most people would profit from stopping everything they’re doing for a day and going to some quiet spot with a notepad and a pen and “thinking outloud on paper” about:

1. Where you’re at,

2. Where you’re trying to go and

3. What is it you’re actually doing every day.

Early in the Internet marketing revolution, I coined the phrase “traffic plus conversion equals profits.” I came up with this equation because I’d become deeply frustrated watching so many beginners chase their tails in a flurry of dramatic, but meaningless busy-ness. It’s very easy to get very, very busy and get nowhere.

Getting results, which presumably is why we do what we do, is about getting busy on the things that matter. When it comes to the things that matter in Internet marketing, it always comes down to the same things: traffic and conversion.

What did you do to get more leads today? What did you do to inspire your visitors to take more of the actions you want them to take?

If the answer to one of both of these questions is nothing, what exactly did you do today for your business?

Believe it or not, loyalty to this simple formula has been responsible for countless success stories in the Internet marketing world. It’s gotten people off the merry-go-round of chasing the-fad-of-the-month and into the world of putting serious money in the bank.

Take some time today – even just ten minutes – to think about what results you’re trying to achieve. Then catalog what you plan to do with your time today. Are the two in sync or has activity run off like an unguided missile taking you only God knows where?

It’s a question all smart entrepreneurs ask themselves daily. In fact, I believe you’ll find that many run this calculation in the back of their minds all day… “Is this activity going to move me towards the results I want?” If the anwer is yes, move forward. If it’s no, look for a better use of your time.

Yes, it really is that simple.

Speaking of conversion, I’ve been somewhat quiet about System 2007.

There’s been a lot going on in the background…the faculty this year is even bigger and better than System 2006 …the curriculum will be the most wide ranging, comprehensive one I’ve ever offered…and fortunately for me the word-of-mouth is strong and we hit the 50% enrollment point this week.

In the next ten weeks, I’ll be introducing the faculty, unveiling our curriculum (so the “copy cats” can get a head start on next year’s Big Idea) and conducting in depth interviews with every one of the guest experts who’ll be sharing with us this April in Chicago.

Frankly, we give away more immediately useful marketing strategies and tactics during the promotion period before the annual System event than most people get from seminars they spend thousands of dollars to attend.

But you can’t benefit frorm the free Pre-System festivities unless you’re on the Pre-Seminar notification list. If you’re not on (or if not sure if you’re on it), go to this page and opt-in:

See you in Chicago,

– Ken McCarthy

P.S. For over 25 years I’ve been sharing the simple but powerful things that matter in business with my clients.

If you’d like direction for your business that will work today, tomorrow and twenty years from now, visit us at the System Club.

Ken McCarthy and direct mail
Options and success

13 Responses to Results vs. Activity

  1. Scott Shubert January 28, 2007 at 5:52 pm #

    Last year attending the System Seminar was on the top of my list of priorities. But I had to miss it as I was in the process of relocating at that time. It is ironic that I was just putting together a calendar of important events for 2007 a few minutes ago when I got this. I am putting it on the schedule right now as being among the top priorities for this year because I know that your seminar is indeed about results vs. activity. Thanks and I look forward to seeing you there.

  2. Pamela Dodd January 28, 2007 at 6:20 pm #

    Right on analysis of Reslts vs. Activity, Ken.

    The other day someone asked me how I get so much done. I said that I just make choices and focus. I told the other person they make choices and focus too, but on different (and probably less effective) things.

  3. Bill Taylor January 28, 2007 at 7:14 pm #

    Great analysis Ken.

    Whatever we have been working on got us to where we are today.

    If thats not where you want to be then you better change some of it to get you moving more towards it is you are targeting.


  4. Marc Sandefur January 28, 2007 at 11:20 pm #

    Very profound post. With an unguided missile you will never hit your target unless you take an absolute perfect aim at the get-go. Your three steps provide the feedback mechanism that transforms a campaign into a guided missile. No need for perfectionism now. An approximate aim will do since the feedback process will home onto the target.

  5. Ben January 29, 2007 at 2:49 am #

    I’m just glad to know that I am not the only one that scribbles random thoughts down on paper at odd hours of the day.

    Great post – I could not agree more!

  6. Terry January 29, 2007 at 3:46 am #

    To write those inspired thoughts down is just the beggining.

    To act on those thoughts – That’s the beggining of sucess

  7. Andrew Cavanagh January 29, 2007 at 4:00 am #

    One way to ensure you’re being effective is to have an overall strategy that includes:

    # The ultimate end result you want to achieve for the clients in your business

    # Your own personal lifestyle goals. How much money you want to work and how many hours you want to work to make it.

    Then you can reverse engineer this strategy down to daily actions.

    Even more important you can analyze everything you do based on whether it fits in with your overall strategy or not.

    This makes far easier to stop doing distracting work and stay tightly focused on getting the short term and long term results you want.

    Kindest regards,
    Andrew Cavanagh

  8. JoAnn Corley January 29, 2007 at 1:47 pm #

    I opened my email this morning and first thing what do I see…GREAT COACHING from Ken. That’s another thing I love about being a System member….thoughtful commentary that addresses the “whole” of the business, not just another internet technique.

    Thanks Ken!

  9. Ryan Healy January 29, 2007 at 5:16 pm #

    I love this post, Ken!

    One point of clarification. If you’re not doing anything yet, I think it’s important to just get started. Once you’ve begun doing something, then it’s time to focus on results.

    Here’s the analogy I use. It’s easy to turn an object that’s already in motion, but how can you change directions if you’re not even moving yet (i.e. not engaged in any kind of activity)?

    Activity precedes results. The RIGHT activity creates results.

  10. Mark Henderson January 29, 2007 at 11:46 pm #

    Ignorance on fire vs knowledge on ice..balance is the key ( with a bias towards action ).

    Simple yet powerful…like all the rest of your teachings…

    Thanks for the insight Ken!

  11. Ken McCarthy January 30, 2007 at 1:01 pm #

    I agree with Ryan. If you’re doing *nothing*, for goodness sakes do something…and the “somethings” to do are work on traffic generation and/or conversion.

    We don’t have many people with the “doing nothing” problem at the System though.

    Saw this at a friend’s office yesterday:

    “Never confuse motion with action.”
    – Ben Franklin

    Doing vs. doing things that make sense.


  1. Philosophy Football « Strategy Works - February 3, 2007

    […] I found a piece by Ken McCarthy that said that “Like a unguided missile, many people launch themselves on a trajectory of what they think is diligent activity assuming that activity alone is going to get them to a happy place. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most people would profit from stopping everything they’re doing for a day and going to some quiet spot with a notepad and a pen and thinking outloud on paper about where you’re at, where you’re trying to go and what is it you’re actually doing every day.” […]

  2. Traffic or conversion… which is better? | Keith Goodrum - January 18, 2008

    […] Traffic and conversions go hand in hand.  Or like Forest Gump said; “Two peas in a pod!”  Focusing on one over the other will cause you problems somewhere down the road. Both are key to online success… You can’t have one without the other.  James Brausch has said it all about traffic + copywriting.(Plus product, but that’s for another article)  Ken McCarthy coined the phrase traffic plus conversions equals profits.  Both must get equal attention, and your online marketing  efforts will be much easier. […]