Have you ever found yourself knowing exactly what you need to do about marketing your business… and then not doing it? You are not alone. Many self-employed professionals find that the hardest part of marketing isn’t figuring out what to do. What’s hard is actually doing it.
Marketing yourself can be a confronting process. Making phone calls to strangers, writing marketing letters, and talking about yourself and your accomplishments can bring up fear of rejection, harsh commentary from your inner critic, feelings of incompetence, and the discomfort of performing unfamiliar activities. If you let them, these inner saboteurs can stop you dead in your tracks.
The good news is that you don’t have to completely eliminate these internal roadblocks in order to move forward in marketing. It is possible to feel afraid or uncomfortable and still take useful action despite the presence of these feelings. Here are ten ways to quickly break through internal barriers and get your marketing unstuck.
1. Recreate your vision. When you’re feeling blocked from moving forward, remember why you wanted to go there in the first place. What was your original vision of the business you are trying to build? Who will your work benefit? What fulfillment or satisfaction will it provide you? Write down your vision of a successful business, or if you’ve written it down before, pull it out and re-read it. Allow your own words to re-inspire you to do the necessary hard work.
2. Design a reward. Sometimes your vision may seem a bit too far off, and you need some more immediate gratification. Choosing to reward yourself for a job well done can provide you with a positive near-term benefit for effort that might not pay off for a while. Promise yourself simple rewards for completing difficult marketing chores like making follow-up calls or writing website copy.
The prospect of a special dinner, a movie with your significant other, or a new gadget for your favorite hobby can help you to push past the blocks and get things done. Rewards don’t even have to cost money. Sometimes the promise of a bubble bath, walk in the park, or an hour reading a good book is all the incentive you need to take on a tough marketing challenge.
3. Tame the inner critic. Often when you’re feeling stuck, what’s going on in your head is a conversation with your inner critic, who seems to have a lot to say about sales and marketing. It’s difficult to work on promoting yourself when you are hearing a constant stream of comments like: “You’re not good enough,” “They won’t like you,” or “Who do you think you are?”
It can help to remember that the inner critic often says things that simply aren’t true. One way to counter this negative dialogue is to respond with the objective truth. For example: “Clients tell me I’m good at what I do,” “Many people say they like me quite a bit,” or “I’m a competent professional, thank you very much.” When you answer confidently with statements of fact, messages from the inner critic often begin to lose their power.
4. Face your fear. One of the most common obstacles to being successful at marketing is fear. Marketing activities may evoke fears of rejection, disapproval, embarrassment, and a host of other catastrophes. Instead of pretending the fear isn’t there, or attempting to ignore it, you may find it more effective to confront the fear directly.
Try to identify exactly what you are afraid of. What do you fear will happen if you make that call or go to that meeting? If you can identify the specific fear that is blocking you, it may be possible to soothe it by providing reassuring information or positive experience. For example, fear of rejection can often be lessened by setting up practice selling sessions where a role-playing partner responds with “yes” to every suggestion you make.
5. Get a pep talk. When you become discouraged, don’t be afraid to ask for outside help to cheer up and start feeling positive again. Ask a friend, colleague, networking group member, or your coach to give you some words of encouragement. Sometimes all you need to hear is: “It was tough for me in the beginning too… Eventually my efforts paid off… You’re doing all the right things… I know you can do it!”
6. Complain and clear. Feeling frustrated and negative can sometimes immobilize you. One method of clearing negative thoughts is to voice what you are experiencing to a caring person. Spend a full five minutes complaining about everything that’s going wrong with your marketing, making sure to say exactly how it makes you feel. Then ask your listener to reflect your feelings back to you. Knowing that someone else hears and understands you may be all you need to let go of a negative attitude and get back to work.
7. Read your fan mail. In the regular course of serving your clients, you’ve probably received thank-you notes, grateful voice mail messages, and other evidence that you’re doing a good job. Make a habit of saving these in a “fan mail” folder, and when you are feeling low, revisit all the nice things people have said about you. Remembering what a good job you do when you are working can encourage you to do the necessary marketing to get more work.
8. Quit; then start fresh. There may be days when you feel discouraged enough to just throw in the towel. Maybe you should do it. The act of quitting can be very cathartic. Proclaim: “I quit!” Perhaps even write yourself a resignation letter. Then take off the rest of the day, and don’t even think about work. It’s a good bet that after you have a chance to blow off some steam, you’ll be ready to come back the following day re-energized.
9. Change the scene. Marketing can feel difficult and lonely when you’re always slaving away by yourself in your home office. Try carrying out some of your challenging marketing tasks from a different location or with some companionship. Make cold calls from the patio, write a marketing letter in a busy coffee shop, or take turns with a colleague helping each other set up a good contact management system. Seeing a different view or enjoying the company of a friend while you work may help you to complete tasks you have been avoiding.
10. Act as if. Whenever you feel incompetent about some area of marketing, you may be able to tackle those activities anyway if you simply try to act as if you were competent. Try playing the role of someone you admire. For example, what if you were Lauren Bacall? How would she make a follow-up call? Or how about if you were Martin Luther King? How would he introduce himself in front of a group? A short time pretending to be someone you think of as confident and capable can make those qualities rub off on you.
The next time your marketing feels stuck, try one of these methods to help you get back into action quickly. Marketing tasks are really only as hard as you think they are, so if you can find an easy way out, why not take it?