When we meet with a new client, a very common sentiment is a sense of anxiety that pervades their marketing.
Some say they hate it. Some say they like it, but it stresses them out. Others have just been trying to ignore it, or let someone else handle it.
How the anxiety manifests is often different, but the cause is almost always the same: A lack of confidence in marketing decisions.
They don’t know what’s working and what isn’t, so every decision feels magnified. They don’t know how much to spend, and if they’re spending too much or too little, so decisions get made based on cost instead of strategy.
Or they don’t know what they should be saying about their business, so they don’t stake out a position—they just market features, prices, or discounts. Which creates an endless cycle of promotions.
The ancient stoics believed that anxiety comes from wanting something outside of our own control. We want our marketing to succeed, but we don’t feel like we have a strong hand in it. So we get stressed and anxious.
And as cognitive neuroscientist Tali Sharot says, “When we are stressed, we become fixated on detecting dangers; we focus on what can go wrong. This then creates excessively pessimistic views, which, in turn, can cause us to become overly conservative.”
When we don’t have confidence in our decisions, we become fearful and conservative, which causes us to scale back our marketing efforts and avoid taking any risks. Which is a problem, because there are no riskless strategies in marketing.
But it’s possible to build confidence in our marketing decisions—by exerting more control over it—so we can do more, take more risks, and see results.
It starts by understanding that the purpose of our marketing efforts is to reinforce our market position—to show our best customers that we’re the right business for them. By focusing on just what we’re best at, and closing the doors on distracting opportunities that won’t help us.
And we must market our position consistently, because, as Hopkins said, you can’t “chop a tree in two by hitting every time in a different place.”
With your marketing focused on your position, your decisions get so much easier, and within your own control. Everything comes down to: “Does this reinforce or damage my position?”
And because you’ll get the immediate benefit of reducing your stress by exerting control, you’ll experience what Sharot calls the Go Response: “When we are faced with the possibility of acquiring something good, our brains trigger a chain of biological events that makes us more likely to act fast.”
As your decisions get easier, and more successful, you’ll be more excited to make more decisions. Success breeds success, and motivation creates itself.
And pretty soon you’ll find your marketing anxiety is replaced with enthusiasm.
And the sense of calm that control can bring.