The distraction, the tail and the dog
Your business has a core, a goal, a challenge and a deliverable. There is probably one thing that would transform your project, one success that changes things, one hurdle that's tougher than the others. What's difficult, what would respond to overwhelming attention? That's the core.
Getting from here to there involves making sales, delivering on promises, overcoming the Dip and shipping.
Along the way, there are supporting tasks you can engage in, things you can do to make the goal easier to achieve.
A popular blog might gain attention and then trust and ultimately help you sell more widgets.
A lot of followers online might give you permission to tell a story that gets you better employees.
A vibrant party at SXSW can create buzz that gives your salespeople entree to important meetings.
These aren't trivial activities. In fact, they're part of what marketing means today. But...
But if they give you and your team an outlet to avoid the difficult work of achieving your goal ("I can't go to that sales call, I'm busy uploading pictures of last night's party to the blog and then tweeting out the url") then you're not building, you're hiding. Rich calls this playing with turtles. The thing is, the turtles are alive, and they're going to demand a lot from you.
There's a huge downside here: once your side activity gets going, it will lead to crises (we have an urgent email we have to answer), to feelings of abandonment (hey, you haven't been on the forum lately!), to irresistible offers to have the CEO speak or get people involved. There will always be a feeling of sunk cost, of opportunities missed and of things on the verge because these are human movements, not paid ads.
Two choices: 1. find a way to make your goal completely aligned with the tactics you use to achieve it. What's good for your blog is good for your business. or 2. Now that these approaches are working, and working incredibly well, it's time to come up with boundaries so the tail doesn't end up wagging the dog.