Most of us self-employed professionals truly enjoy no longer having to answer to The Boss. But the lack of anyone to report to can be a problem. There’s no one to make you perform sales and marketing tasks you don’t want to do. If you procrastinate about posting to your blog, resist going to networking events, or find follow-up calls too scary to make, no one will know that you’re avoiding marketing except you.
I understand that marketing and sales involve activities that can be confronting. Even I don’t always find marketing easy, and that’s after 25-plus years of having a successful business. Finding ways to overcome resistance to marketing is often the first topic new clients bring up when they start working with me.
I’ve found that the winning formula to get yourself to take action about marketing your business isn’t only about carrots and sticks. Most of us need a combination of three different approaches:
- Pursue the carrots.
- Avoid the sticks.
- Look both inward and outward.
Seek out carrots that make you want to move forward.
1. Set up a reward you can claim when you complete marketing tasks. Grant yourself a square of chocolate for each follow-up call you make, or indulge in a night at the movies when you accomplish a major project like setting up a blog.
2. Visualize the positive end result you want your marketing activities to create. See yourself with dozens of happy clients, or imagine the fulfillment you’ll feel from engaging in the work you enjoy.
3. When a particular task has you feeling blocked, find an easier element of it to begin with. For example, if you can’t seem to get started on writing a blog post, make a list of the ideas you want to include in it, or begin by writing the ending.
Establish sticks for not moving which you’ll want to avoid.
4. Create some benevolent peer pressure from friends or colleagues who also have marketing tasks to complete. Get together in a co-working group – in person, by phone or online – where you have company while you each work on your own marketing. Or exchange commitments with a person or group about what you will do by when, then set a time to check in with each other about what you did.
5. Establish a penalty for not getting your marketing done. For example, pledge to a colleague that you’ll donate $50 to his or her favorite charity if you don’t get your web copy written by a certain date. Or deny yourself permission to eat your favorite food on every day you don’t make your scheduled follow-up calls.
6. Imagine the awful outcome that will result if you don’t get moving on building your business. Make it dramatically terrible — see yourself broke and sleeping on your sister’s couch, or having to go back to the job you hated most and work there forever.
Adopt an attitude of inward and outward curiosity.
7. Look inside to find your deepest motivation for being successfully self-employed. What did you dream of when you decided to work for yourself? What are your hopes for the business you are building? Keep those aspirations in front of you when it’s time to engage in sales and marketing.
8. Work through blocks to action by posing yourself powerful questions with the help of a business coach or trusted friend. For example, have your partner coach you to imagine yourself in five years, and from that wiser place, describe what you see about how you are acting now.
9. Collect words, pictures, and music that inspire you to feel smarter and stronger. When you notice you are resisting marketing, reach into your collection for a motivating quote, mantra, image, or song to shift your frame of mind.
How do you know which of these ideas will work for you? At first, you probably don’t. You may need to try several of them to find out which help the most.
I’ve found that the recipe that works for me most of the time is reward + peer pressure + inspiration. For example, if I’m trying to get some web copy written, I’ll tell myself that I can have a yummy hot beverage as a reward as soon as I get it done. If I’m still putting it off, I’ll make this my project on Get It Written Day, where I’ll have the benevolent peer pressure of others expecting me to report my progress. And if I’m having trouble getting started, I’ll look at examples I’ve previously clipped in Evernote for inspiration.
Rather than adopting another person’s approach, build your own unique solution by combining as many of the elements above as you need. Your own personal recipe for overcoming marketing resistance will keep you moving forward.