I was coaching a new client a couple of weeks ago. They’re working with me on a 1-year financial results programme to take their business and personal finances to a whole new level and really take control of their future. I love working with them SO much; they take big action every week, and are prepared to take themselves on – challenging what they’ve been doing in their business for many years to get a different result. During our first strategy session I was drilling down into their sales and marketing plans to understand what the drivers were for bringing in sales. They could tell me everything about their ideal client, their route to market and had an impressive marketing plan.
Then I asked what marketing they actually did. The answer was “None” Hmmmm. Interesting! So I asked why, and after several minutes deep thought the answer was “I’m scared of being rejected if I put myself out there”
This was a real breakthrough and not something they’d consciously been aware of, but could suddenly see how much this was holding them back. I can so relate to this!
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll know that marketing has always been the thing I’m most scared of in my business. And there’s no question that not being brave enough has held me back over the years. As my coach recently helped me to realise, because I’d been afraid of not being pushy, I stepped so far back that I could never be accused of being pushy and had to sit back and wait for clients to come and find me!
In small business it’s personal
When you run a small business it IS personal. When you market your business you’re putting yourself out there – your ideas, your products and services, so it’s logical that we would fear rejection when we’re standing up and showing the world our very best stuff. Whilst we’re invisible we don’t have to deal with what others might think about us. But being seen, having a presence brings up all sorts of fears:
- We’re afraid people will notice and think we’re stupid
- We’re afraid no one will notice or care
I know some weeks it feels like the whole of LinkedIn got together to decide to ignore my posts – but I just have to get on with it, even though it feels like no-one could care less what I think that week!
Being scared of marketing doesn’t serve you, your business, or your clients
Not telling the world about what you do is just playing small. Presumably you think that what you do is pretty good if not brilliant, and you know how much difference you could make to other people. How does it help them if they don’t even know you exist? Don’t you think they might like the chance to consider using you? (After all you ARE the best at what you do, aren’t you?) When you’re confident about what you do and how you help people then it becomes easier to start to overcome the mental blockages we’ve built up around marketing and rejection.
Know what you want for your life
Passive marketing is very common in small businesses – but only in those businesses that lack direction and the owners don’t really know what they want from their life. When you’ve got a compelling vision of how you want your life to look; what you want to earn consistently, where you want to live, what holidays you want, where you want to grow your business to, and what you want to sell it for one day, THEN you’ll find the resolve to make consistent marketing part of how you run your business.
Marketing = desperate! Let’s dispel that myth
Many people (myself included in the past) feel that if they’re seen to be marketing then “people” will think they’re desperate for business. That clearly they don’t have enough customers already or why else are they out there looking for more? Well, very few businesses have a queue of people waiting to do business without any marketing (well done if you’re one of them!) and its just good business practice to take control of your sales and not leave it to chance. And it’s a very competitive world so we need to be “out there” If we can get our heads around that, and know that consistent marketing will help to secure our future, then it gets easier to push through when it feels difficult and uncomfortable.
Practical ways to overcome your fear
- Define what you’re actually afraid of? Don’t dismiss this point – writing down exactly what your fears are is very powerful in helping you to articulate the fear. Usually it’s so ridiculous that you can see there is actually nothing real there. Or it helps you to identify if there is something specific and this will help you plan to overcome it.
- What do you stand to gain if you could market your business successfully? More consistent income, better quality customers, grow your business, more self confidence, increase your dividends, move to a better house, get more into the pension?
- Get a really clear marketing plan that you feel confident with – start small and build as you gain more confidence. And make sure you write your marketing plan down and keep it close.
- Keep it simple – there’s no point coming up with a 15-point marketing plan if currently you don’t do anything. You need to know you can incorporate this into your week.
- Play to your strengths – choose marketing methods that you feel comfortable with and that play to your skills, especially whilst you’re building your confidence. Deciding to start cold calling may not be the best plan if you’ve got a fear of rejection!
- Don’t get caught in the SMOG:
- Should • Musts • Ought tos • Got tos
There are plenty of people, articles and webinars out there telling you what you should, must, ought to and got to do – take time to know what will work for you. If you get outside help then make sure they know your industry and have a track record in turning marketing into sales.
- Choose things you know you can do consistently – sporadic marketing doesn’t work at all, so you need to commit to something you can do week in week out.
- Break your plan down into specific tasks so you know exactly what needs doing, and how to do it.
- Schedule exactly when you’re doing to do each task – block out Deep Work time for this every week – non-negotiable time where you just get it done.
- Treat yourself when you follow through and do something you were afraid of.
- Rinse and repeat. Learn from what does and doesn’t work, and just keep doing it. This particular client I started the post with had been following my blog for a couple of years, and one day just said they wanted to work with me!
- Have faith!
You never know what could happen if market your business – but we all know what will happen if you don’t!
I’m by no means a marketing expert, but I do know that poor marketing means inconsistent sales income, which means inconsistent profits and a random life – and you deserve better than that.