Dog jumps obstacleThe number one complaint my clients and students — self-employed professionals — bring me about their marketing is that they aren’t doing enough of it. You would think this would be easy to fix. I could just tell them to spend more time marketing and selling, and that would solve their problem. But like so many other challenges in life, knowing what needs to be done doesn’t necessarily make that thing occur.

Consider losing weight, for example. If it were as simple as being told to eat less or exercise more, we would all be as thin as we wished just by deciding to make it so. Since that doesn’t happen very often; it’s clear we humans need a bit more help.

My approach to helping my clients solve most “you know you need to, but you aren’t” issues is to begin by asking what is stopping you. Once you can identify the saboteur(s) getting in your way, you’ll have a much better chance of being able to get past it/them. With that goal in mind, here are six common obstacles to putting more effort into marketing, and suggestions for overcoming each one.

1. Fear – When you discover that something about marketing is provoking fear in you, probe a bit deeper to determine what you’re afraid of. Often, voicing a fear can reduce its power. Then, try one of these techniques to slay your marketing dragons: commit to do what you fear for five minutes, ask yourself what’s the worst thing that can happen, visualize the results you could achieve once you get past the fear, or discharge your worries by sharing them with a friend.

2. Resistance – If you find yourself resisting marketing with thoughts like “why should I have to,” “marketing is unprofessional,” or “selling is sleazy,” look for new motivators to help you take action. Seek out “carrots” that make it easier to move forward, like designing a reward you can collect when you’re done, or designing a path that involves less effort. Or, institute “sticks” that you’ll want to avoid, such as establishing a penalty you must pay if you don’t complete tasks.

3. Inner critic – The voice inside your head seems to have much to say about marketing and sales. “You don’t know what you’re doing,” for example. Or, “No one wants what you have to offer.” You can learn to better manage these negative thoughts by working to build the positive qualities in yourself that will counteract them. Qualities like courage, trust, persistence, consistency, and empathy. With more positives to draw on, negatives have less impact.

4. Perfectionism – A close cousin of the inner critic is perfectionism. When you believe that your marketing tools and tactics must be flawless before you can put them to use, you set a standard it will be impossible to meet. It’s essential to recognize that perfection is not a requirement for success. You don’t need to believe your marketing is the best there is. You simply need to believe that you, yourself, are capable, reliable, and deliver good value.

5. Overload – It’s a widespread problem among the self-employed to find yourself too busy to get clients. Perhaps your time is being consumed by other paying business (or maybe underpaying business), or second job/family/school/volunteer commitments. Get realistic about how much time you need to set aside for marketing, then make appointments with yourself to get it done. Don’t let anything interfere with your scheduled marketing dates. Your business depends on it.

6. Isolation – Independence can be one of the best aspects of being self-employed. But its counterpart — isolation — can have a high cost. Working alone, you have no one to hold you accountable for marketing and sales, nor to encourage you when marketing doesn’t go well. Consider working with a marketing buddy or joining a Get Clients Now! class to provide you with a structure for accountability, perspective on your efforts, and a built-in cheering section.

No matter what is preventing you from marketing your business as energetically as you would like, solutions exist. Make a commitment to pinpoint your marketing saboteurs, and develop a plan to overcome them. You have the power to stop being stopped!

C.J. Hayden

C.J. Hayden, MCC, CPCC, is the author of the bestseller Get Clients Now!: A 28-Day Marketing Program for Professionals, Consultants, and Coaches, Since 1992, she's been helping self-employed professionals survive and thrive. C.J. is the author of five other business how-to-books, and has taught marketing at Mills College and John F. Kennedy University. Find out how you can work with C.J. as your business coach or attend one of her upcoming programs.

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