They lie in wait for you when you least expect them — the marketing dragons of fear, resistance and procrastination. Just when you think you’ve defeated them at last, they rear their ugly heads again. What’s a self-employed professional to do?
First of all, don’t panic, despair, or beat yourself up. It’s completely normal to have elements of fear and resistance show up around sales and marketing. Even if it seems like you’re the only one who has these feelings, trust me, you’re not.
Your marketing dragons can be defeated. But to do so, you need to get to know them a bit better. Awareness is the key to becoming a powerful dragon-slayer. Raise your awareness by asking yourself these questions:
- What are you afraid of? What do you fear will happen if you take the marketing action that’s distressing you?
- What are you resisting? What is it about any marketing action you’re avoiding that makes you dig in your heels?
- When you procrastinate about marketing activities, what is coming up for you? If you choose to delay making a call, sending an email, or updating your website, what thoughts are in your mind?
Once you’re armed with a clearer awareness about what’s going on in your mind and heart, try one or more of the following dragon-slaying techniques.
1. Try taking action anyway. Seriously, if you can just get started, it may not be as bad as you feared. Tell yourself you only have to spend 5 minutes. At the end of that time, check to see if you feel strong enough to continue for another 5 minutes. Repeat for up 90 minutes at a stretch. Then take a break — you’ve earned it.
2. Ask yourself what’s the worst thing that could happen. And if that awful thing were to occur, what would be the worst thing that could happen then? Be specific; put it into words. Keep asking this question to go deeper into what you fear until you reach the level of either catastrophe or absurdity. Then check in with yourself, and see if taking the action you’ve been delaying seems more possible now.
3. Visualize the great results that could occur if you were to do what you’re resisting. Imagine the happy outcome if you were to get that client, make the sale, or increase your income. Picture your personal image of success in your mind’s eye. With that vision in mind, take a step in the direction you’ve been avoiding. Refocus on the vision, and take another step. Remember to reach for this vision every time fear or resistance resurface.
4. Clear out your negative feelings with a trusted friend. Ask someone you can trust to just listen while you voice your fears. Say out loud what action you’re resisting, what you fear will happen if you do it, and what comes up when you try. Talk through your concerns for five full minutes without stopping. Ask your friend to summarize what you said so you know you’ve been heard. Commit to your friend what action you’ll take now that you’ve cleared some of the negative emotions out of your way. Then go do it.
5. Get the feel of dragon-slaying into your body. Choose an unbreakable item to represent your ugliest dragon. Stuffed animals are good; so are pillows. Pick up a long object you can swing, like a baseball bat, golf club, or yardstick. Then attack your dragon, naming it out loud. Like this: “Take that, Fear!” “Down, Resistance!” “Be gone, Procrastination!” Then with the feel of victory against the dragon flowing through you, swing into marketing action.
You can add extra power and accountability to any of these dragon-slaying techniques by asking a coach to help you employ them. Or ask a colleague who is facing the same issues to work together with you so the two of you can support each other.
It’s not always possible to defeat your marketing dragons permanently. And that’s okay. So long as you are able to drive the dragons back into their cave long enough for you to do what needs to be done to get the clients you need, you’re doing fine.
Think of it as exercising your dragon-slaying muscles. Every time you push one of those dragons back, you’re getting stronger. The more you practice, the better you’ll get at stopping marketing dragons in their tracks.