I love growing apple trees in my backyard, especially during the fall when I can eat them! Apple trees (and other fruit trees, I'm sure) can teach us a lot about healthcare marketing. Here are three of my takeaways:

  1. Seasons can't be rushed.

Successful apple trees and marketers know that some things cannot be rushed. For a flower to blossom and become fruit, it requires time. Quarterly revenue targets, key performance indicators (KPIs), return on investment (ROI) targets, and so on can't rush the season along. No matter of sales coaching, training, seminars, stack ranking, incentive plans, or morale support can rush the buying season for some prospects. That's okay. Let's not kill our buds or blossoms because they aren't apples yet. In time, they will come to fruition. This impacts how marketers use various channels as well as the sales team's approach to closing deals.

  1. Sometimes the pests win anyway.

In many situations, you can make the right decisions, optimize ideal channels, and do everything else right, but the "pests" somehow still win. Deer can knock over protective cages, voles can gnaw on roots (or "girdle" the tree for you horticulturists out there), bugs can damage or ruin the fruit, etc. We can mulch around our fruit trees, surround them with protective cages, water them, wrap their trunks, and take action on all manner of best practices. In spite our best efforts, sometimes bad things happen to good trees and promising fruit. Which is why trees don't grow one apple per year. Not every apple will make it! So build great business models that you hold to lightly; explore new customer segments but be open to learning; roll out that new feature with the openness to pivoting; and so on.

  1. Imperfect fruit can still be enjoyed.

No pesticides, no wax coating, no quality assurance: backyard apples are far from perfect visually, but they taste great! A collaboration, audience profile, channel, innovative idea, etc. might not seem perfect on the outset, but that does not mean there isn't value there. Further, "imperfect" leads can still lead to profitable partnerships!

  1. Soil composition matters. A lot.

Plus the amount of sun, volume of water, protection from pests, etc. all have impact on the health of the trees and the harvest of fruit. As marketers, we have to be aware of the environment, contexts, and ecosystems in which we encounter our audience. There are a lot of factors that we may not have any control over (sun exposure) and many more that we need to strategically plan around months in advance (soil composition).