The definition of a shortcut is something that gets you somewhere faster – cutting a route to make it shorter. However, shortcuts can have a negative connotation (as in, the building’s structure is weak because the builder took shortcuts.)
An accelerant is something that makes a process work faster. The process is still the process – there are no shortcuts. An accelerant simply speeds it up.
We take a lot of shortcuts in our daily work that make sense – many you don’t even think about: keyboard shortcuts, PowerPoint templates, or updating an old presentation to make it relevant to a new subject or client.
We also take shortcuts full of potential pitfalls – like updating an old proposal for a new client. (I know no one who’s been 100% successful at never leaving behind a wrong phrase, name, or term.)
I talk to a lot of clients who think they want a shortcut, but what they really want is an accelerant.
Take sales, for example. Sometimes businesses want to take a shortcut in the sales process and have a customer make a purchase more quickly. So they offer a discount. They package it differently. And maybe it moves the needle a little – but usually these shortcuts just cost money without significantly accelerating the buying process.
How about for marketing? “We need leads, now.” I hear it from businesses all the time. And they repeat a program that worked three years ago or do something – anything – to generate leads in the shortest time. These businesses are trying to take a shortcut to success.
Shortcuts to success don’t exist.
If you want effective marketing programs, web copy, sales tools, and messages, you have to do the hard work first – there is no shortcut.
You need to understand your customers and the value they get from you (not the value you think you give, but the value they believe they get). You must understand your competitors and the alternatives. You have to understand the digital landscape – your online presence and that of your competitors. This takes skill and time – and there is no shortcut. But … it can be accelerated.
The next sentence is self-serving.
The accelerant for this process is hiring outside help. A well-rounded marketing agency will help you accelerate the process of research and make it easier for you to grasp and apply the learning that comes from that research.
You may be able to do it in-house – if you have the time … if you have the people … if you have the skills.
And yes, it costs money – sometimes a lot of money – to hire this help. But consider the alternatives. The longer it takes to do it yourself, the more discounting eats into your profit margins and the more sales you lose – whether to competitors or to the fact that you were never invited to compete for the business to start with.
If you went to college, you (or your parents) were investing in an accelerant for your future. Sure, you could learn everything you learned in college by yourself, but you got it done faster with professors and structure.
Hiring coaches or consultants to help with your business’s weak areas has the same effect.
So as you grow a business, as you make decisions, keep asking yourself “Am I looking for a shortcut or an accelerant?”