Avoiding the 7 Steps to Stagnation


30 years ago, when I was just starting out in marketing, my boss handed me a printed sheet of paper and told me to tack it on the wall. It was a list created by Erwin M. Soukup entitled “The 7 Steps to Stagnation.”

Just like my boss passed it to me, I’m passing it to you:

The Seven Steps to Stagnation

  1. We’ve never done it that way before.
  2. We’re not ready for that.
  3. We are doing all right without trying that.
  4. We tried it once before.
  5. We don’t have money for that.
  6. That’s not our job.
  7. Something like that can’t work.

Seven incredibly simple statements… that you’ve probably heard way too often, or worse yet, have said to someone (recently) at your business. The list first made the rounds in the 1980s, but when it comes to marketing your business, they’ve never been more relevant.

Change is hard. Change puts you in the lead.

When you consider the massive changes that digital marketing and social media have brought to the business landscape, it’s easy to see how you could say every one of the seven statements when considering how to market your business today. Imagine the conversation…

Ask our clients to provide and post Reviews? “We’ve never done it that way before.”

Get an updated website that integrates with all of our digital marketing? “We don’t have money for that.”

Use social media as marketing? “Something like that can’t work.

That’s why it’s so important to keep the Seven Steps tacked on the wall where you can see it everyday… because it’s so easy to fall into their trap.

The world changes… even if you don’t

If you’ve been in business for more than 5 – 10 years, the way you market your business has changed dramatically. Most small businesses didn’t even have a website seven years ago, let alone search campaigns, digital listings, or display ads.

Today you know you need a website – but you may not be doing what you should to keep your website up-to-date, with integrated content like Reviews and posts. (After all… “We’re not ready for that.”) Are you encouraging your customers to leave positive reviews online? (“That’s not our job.”) And how about social media marketing? (“We’re doing alright without trying that.”)

The world is on social, are you?

Not sure if your customers are on social media? Well, if they’re alive on the planet right now, there’s a pretty darn good chance they’re on social. These numbers are staggering:

  • 80% of Internet users use Facebook (and, really, today who doesn’t use the Internet?)
  • 97% of online adults age 16 – 64 say they have visited or used a social network in the last month

If you want to get your message in front of your customers today, you have to consider the reach of social. Plus, social gives you unheard of targeting opportunities, so you’re not casting a huge net, you’re aiming for exactly who you want to reach.

Take steps to avoid the seven steps

The steps you need to take to avoid stagnation are just as basic as the cliché, knee-jerk responses that get us all into trouble. So, without further ado, here are…

Michael’s Seven Steps to AVOID Stagnation

  1. Try doing something routine in a way you’ve never done it before
  2. Try something new even if you think you’re not ready
  3. Expand you’re definition of “doing alright” so it includes trying new things
  4. Try something again that didn’t work once before
  5. Shift funds from something routine to something new
  6. Make new forms of communication (like social) part of your job
  7. Try testing something that goes against everything you’ve tried before

Simple, right? It should be. You’ve built a successful business, or are in the process of building one – so at some point you had to have said, “today I’m starting something new.”

Now you just have to follow that same “start something new” spirit each new day – you’ll avoid the seven deadly steps, and you’ll move your business forward.


Needless to say, one easy way to keep up with changing ways to market your company online is to keep coming back here, to the Hibu Blog, visit us at Hibu.com, or give us a call, and we’ll walk you through a range of new ways you can market your business.

Stats source: Smallbiztrends.com/2016/11/social-media-statistics-2016
Michael Shapiro

Michael Shapiro

Michael is Hibu’s Manager of Copy & Design. He specializes in creating digital marketing and content that speaks to the customer and inspires a response. Before coming to Hibu, he was Creative Director for Chase and Sr. Writer/Writer-Producer for HBO.

Comments are closed here.