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What we can learn from a 12th Century monk about achieving business goals



Q. Here’s one – what have stopping smoking, losing weight, getting fit, improving your sex-life…… and, ehm, website traffic got in common?

A. They are all more searched for in Google in January than in any other month of the year.

When we add to this list things like ‘business growth, ‘get more customers’, and ‘lead generation’ it’s clear that this time of year not only provides a trigger for bettering our bodies and our lives, but our businesses, too.

A few months back, I talked about ‘intent’ – meaning the reasons and motivations behind why someone searches for such-and-such a subject, and some of the things that marketers and business-owners can do to their websites to help their business gets found when googlers are a-googling.

This time round, we’re talking about intention.

Now, as a positive-thinker I’m not great when it comes to talking about failure, but when it comes to the subject of ‘intentions’, alas there’s no avoiding addressing this elephant in the room.

We’ve all heard the adage about how the road to hell is paved with good intentions...

Believed to have originated with Benedictine monk, St. Bernard of Clairvaux in the 12th Century, a common interpretation of this is that good intentions often fail because they’re not backed up with actions. In the world of psychology, these actions are known as implementation intentions (Gollwitzer, P. M. 1999).

In short, these are the things we need to actually do to make achieving our goals (our good intentions) a reality – in this case, growing our business, getting more customers, generating more leads, and attracting more visitors to our website.

Without these actions – these implementation intentions – our good intentions are likely to fall by the wayside… and a lot sooner than we might expect.

When we consider that the overwhelming majority – depending on which source you go with, 80 to 90 per cent – of New Year resolutions fail by the time February arrives, there is a compelling case for immediate and urgent action!

Known as ‘Quitter’s Day’, the real danger-day is 12th January, so, whatever you do, do what you have to do to get past that one! (Congratulations if you’re reading this after 12th January and you’re still actively pursuing your goals!)

Okay, that’s us done with the talk of failure.

On to success now and growing our business, getting more customers, generating more leads, and attracting more traffic to our website…

HubSpot’s ‘State of Inbound 2018’ report reveals ‘generating traffic and leads’ as (by a long chalk) the Number 1 challenge among businesses worldwide. The report also highlights ‘converting contacts/leads to customers’ and ‘growing traffic to website’ as the top marketing priorities for businesses.

Unfortunately, however, as the Content Marketing Institute points out, the actions needed to support these priorities aren’t always followed through.

Why is that?
One of the best (and most tried and tested) ways to get more website visitors and generate more leads is through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

Before you tense up and hit the back-button, let me explain…

First, though, just what is Search Engine Optimisation?

SEO specialist, define it as ‘the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic (non-paid) search engine results.’

‘One of the best ways to get more website visitors and generate more leads’, you say?

Yup. And proof abounds...

Exhibit A

Zazzle Media’s ‘The State of SEO 2018’ survey found that some 77 per cent of marketers said that SEO has increased their number of leads. You can download the full report at: - it's a good - and short - read.

And to bring it closer to home, may I produce some evidence from my own recent work with businesses in Northern Ireland…

Exhibits B, C, & D

  • The B2C online retailer who (surprisingly) quickly increased visitor traffic and grew online sales through some very straightforward fixes.

  • The eCommerce business that saw significant increases in visitor numbers and, crucially, conversion rates by acting on some clear, concise guidance and advice.

  • The Belfast-based start-up who, within three months of my work with them, was ranking high up the first page of Google for the things they wanted to rank for… and saw their sales enquiries grow three-fold.

In each of my three examples (I’ve loads more where these came from), the business-owner was surprised (pleasantly, I should say) at how relatively simple (and logical) it was to do the things that generated the sorts of results they were now seeing.

The thing was, they didn’t know what they didn’t know – something they were happy to admit, by the way.

And this is perfectly normal: a 2017 survey by Digimax illustrates a general lack of awareness and understanding among small businesses of exactly what is meant by SEO.

For me, there’s no shame in this – I know little or nothing about industrial adhesives, electrical control panels or architectural metalwork (just some of the sorts of businesses I’ve worked with over the last few months).

Other barriers to inaction are confusion and fear. For this I blame the marketing industry: far too much mystique (hocus-pocus) has been created around the subject of SEO (and digital marketing in general). Stop showing off, will ya – you’re putting people off!

Another reason – though very much a subject for another day – is that many businesses assume that their web designer/developer has “taken care of their SEO”. The truth here is some may well have, but some most certainly haven’t.

All this gets in the way of you knowing and doing what you need to do – the implementation intentions – to achieve your grand and good intentions to grow your business in the way you want.

In my experience, very often all that’s needed is some good guidance and advice.

Advice that will help you know what you don’t know, that will cut through the crap you might have heard or read goodness knows where.


If you’re serious about succeeding in your resolution – no, not that one; the ones about growing your business or getting more leads – I can help…

You’re already still reading this article, so that’s a good first step! 😇

What next?

Call me or email me! (My contact details are at the bottom of this article.)

I offer in-house training, coaching and consultancy. A phone-call or email will cost you nothing!

A quote from author, John Burroughs to finish:

“The smallest deed is better than the greatest intention.”

Thank you for reading.

I’m Damian Donnelly, Principal at Ad_Man Creative Marketing Insight & Strategy, a marketing professional with over 25 years’ experience. During this time I’ve worked with everybody from senior government officials and marketing managers for international brands, to owners of start-ups and micro-businesses… and everybody in between.

I’ve delivered 1000s of hours of marketing, digital marketing and social media consultancy, training, coaching and mentoring to 100s of businesses and organisations across Ireland, both face-to-face and through seminars, workshops and keynote talks.

You can contact me at 07891 672009 or


Damian Donnelly

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