December 11, 2012

big rocks, small rocks, pebbles, and sandThere is a story about a professor who started his class by placing a large glass jar on the podium, and put a number of large rocks into the jar, until no more would fit. When he asked, the students responded that it was full – he could not put any more rocks into the jar. The professor took a number of smaller rocks from beneath the podium, and dropped them into the jar, where they settled into the spaces around the larger rocks. He repeated this with pebbles, and then sand. When the students responded that this time, they were certain the jar was full and no more could be added, the professor poured water into the jar. What does this have to do with Internet marketing? There will always be activities you can do online to market your business or products. How do you know if you’re choosing the big rocks that will give you the most pay-off, or allowing your days to be filled with sand?

Big rocks

Your big rocks are those activities with a hard deadline, either because they are tied to a specific holiday, or because you are doing them in conjunction with another business and both of you must roll out the marketing activity at the same time. Put these activities on your calendar first, determining both when you will actually send out your email marketing, blog posts, ads, or website updates, and how long it will take you to create the material you will be sending out. Make sure that you budget in time for reviews if you are working with someone else.

Small rocks

The small rocks are those activities with soft deadlines. You’d like to complete them by a certain date, but if they’re done a day or two earlier or later, it won’t be a crisis. Add these activities to your calendar next.


Your pebbles are projects that do not have deadlines. These can be sample projects for new forms of social media, split tests to refine a marketing message, or other useful but not necessary activities. You can schedule these things on your calendar, or you can keep a to-do list of the most promising projects and schedule time to work on your to-do list.


Your sand is composed of many, many grains of small effort that together have an impact. Most social media activities fall under the heading of sand. Any one individual post or response will be unlikely to make a difference to your bottom line, but over time, they can have a great effect. Set aside a block of time each day to work on social media, or use small chunks of time in between other tasks.


The water in this analogy is your relationships. It permeates everything else that you do, and is ignored at your peril.





Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy


(Image: MorgueFile)

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