Are You White Knuckling the Promotion of Your Business?

Posted on in Growth Strategies

Marketing wisdom from life’s adventures

By: Mary Avenanti, Director, VGM Off the Shelf Marketing

I recently crushed my hands in a mountain biking accident. Technically it was a crash, as the word “accident” implies less intentional risk than is the norm in mountain biking (MTB). A new trail (new to me), a long, exhilarating descent that resulted in speeds on a bike I had never experienced, a drop off near the end, a sand and red clay combination that scared the stability out of my tires, and, of course, a rider with only a year of real off-road riding under her belt — all these elements came together to create a scenario that would challenge my still-developing  MTB skill set and my ability to make split-second decisions in a situation filled with potential to permanently alter the direction of my life.

The front end of my bike was shaking violently and I was, as they say in the MTB community, “white-knuckling it.” The term, of course, refers to the conscious (or many times subconscious) choice to hang on so tightly in a crisis situation to what you know, what’s familiar and what has maybe worked in your favor in the past. The trick is knowing when to let go when that particular action is no longer serving you. Marketing Wisdom 101, right?

  • Let go of what no longer serves you. White-knuckling can lead to undesirable outcomes on a mountain bike trail AND in attempts to market your goods and services. When one approach doesn’t work the way you expected (or fails miserably), re-assess, take a more deliberate approach, learn all you can from what went wrong and also from the things that went right.

I regained control, briefly, then hit the drop off. Sand and clay fell away and I flew off to the right, the bike went out from under me to the left. My helmeted head slammed into the rocky embankment, and because I still had not “let go,” my hands went with the bike. My immediate thought was, “[Explicative], I hit my head…hard.” However, by the time my riding partner made his way back up the trail and asked, “Where does it hurt?” my response was, “My hands, oh my God, my hands hurt so bad.”

 I had already forgotten about my head. The pain in my hands was like nothing I’d ever experienced. I had no frame of reference for this type of discomfort. I remember sitting on the ground, just staring at the palms of my hands and wondering why they weren’t gnarled and why my fingers weren’t in a non-functional heap (that all came a few hours later) because the pain was telling me that this is what I should be seeing. Hmmm…two more lessons here that relate to promoting your business:

  • Things are not always what they appear, and our perception can be clouded by previous experiences or presumptions. Be aware and remain curious.
  • Ask the right questions of consumers and referral sources, and become an expert listener. My partner asked a question that required some clear thought on my part, thus gathering critical information about my “brain’s” current condition.

I had no choice but to get back on my bike. We were only a mile or so into a seven-mile trail in the middle of 5,000 acres of, well, wilderness really…so I rode. More cautiously now. Slower and more deliberate with each action. Back to the basics…focusing on the foundational skills that build a confident and accomplished mountain biker.

A few more bits of marketing wisdom emerged upon reflection of the events that transpired that morning, the details of the fall, the thought processes during recovery and my somewhat inexplicable desire to get back to that particular trail and navigate that descent successfully:

  • Take calculated risks. Taking risks is necessary to experience any forward motion in your business. Determine whether the risk was worth the outcome, and re-evaluate.
  • Continually hone your skills and expand your knowledge base about the ever-changing terrain in which you operate.
  • Connect with your community and find partners who share a deep understanding of the challenges unique to your business.
  • Regularly go back to the basics and revisit the core strengths of your business. (Later examination of my bike revealed the front shocks were locked out, an oversight that could have had disastrous consequences.) Always perform regular maintenance checks on the root operations of your business.
  • And lastly, take the time to remember why you are where you are. Do you love what you are doing enough to navigate the ever-evolving landscape, to get back on the bike, crash after crash, climbing the steep, rocky ascents just so you can experience another exhilarating, life-altering downhill?

Mary Avenanti is the director of VGM’s Off the Shelf Marketing Program. Her hands are healed and ready to assist you in creating innovative print marketing materials to help successfully promote your business to both consumers and referral sources. Go to to view more than 30 customizable pieces that cover  HME, home accessibility, Medicare, sleep and respiratory, retail, complex rehab and more. Call 888.875.7707 or email [email protected]