Posted by Meghan Skiff

OMGIm_so_scaredto_publish_this_blog“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” The question, asked repeatedly by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg during her 2013 book tour promoting Lean In, makes the assumption that fear is present from the start. And, if you are doing a startup, fear is likely a familiar emotion.

Why, fear?

Fear, like other emotions, plays a significant role in the way we do business.

As much as we like to draw a harsh line in the sand between business and personal, the reality is the everything that we do is indeed very personal to the way we feel, think and perceive the world.

Much like love, joy, trust and anger, fear is a powerful emotion. It has the potential to play a tangible role in our actions and decisions in business. On some level each of us experiences fear to one degree or another. The same thing goes for the organizations that we lead or take part in. Some people and organizations are more fearful than others.

You are probably thinking “what does fear have to do with marketing, exactly?” Fear, like other emotions, has the power to control us if we let it - which brings about negative consequences. When companies are fearful, the they often stop or stall the marketing activities that advance their goals.

Here are 5 Signs that you may be marketing from a place of fear:

#1: You require too many rounds of approval.

Whether it’s requiring several levels of the organization to sign off on a piece before it goes out or continually tweaking and rethinking content far beyond its respectable form, stalling the publishing process to make sure that content is “just right” hurts your marketing efforts.              

When it comes to marketing in this era day, the most important thing is to ship, consistently. Quality is extremely important, yes. However, there is a difference between high quality (attainable and rewarding) and perfection (not attainable and not rewarding to seek). After all, if you are running an inbound or content marketing program at your startup, one of the primary objectives is to start a conversation and build a community of followers. To that end, the most important thing is to get your thoughts out there and evolve as you go. Almost anything you have to say will sound smarter than staying silent.

#2: You are preoccupied with the wrong risk concerns.

I’m not saying that there aren’t any risks to online marketing, but in most cases they are heavily outweighed by benefits. This often presents in the form of many “what ifs.” Bad things can happen, yes, but if it stops you entirely from reaching out to your market using the web, then you’re in trouble.

#3: You care way too much about your competitors.

There are a lot of companies out there that are very, very, very worried about their competition. However, I have found that the focus really doesn’t pay off. If you’re focused on your competitors then you’re not focused on your buyers. This scenario reminds me of that person in school that was always looking over his shoulder whenever assignments or test results were returned and trying to figure out what everybody else got and what everybody else is doing, as opposed to focusing on what he were doing himself. All that matters is you and your company and your buyer. How can you more effectively reach that buyer? Outpace the competition by serving the buyers.                 

#4: You can’t stop talking about yourself.

Often when companies are afraid, they think that they need to talk about themselves. They “show up and throw up” at sales presentations or they rattle on about their products or services.. They think that if they’re not talking about themselves, they’re not selling their products. The opposite is true. Modern sales success relies on helping, rather than closing. The more you help, the more relevant you will be.

#5: You refuse to focus.                    

In your marketing and sales processes, do you claim to help with “everything” or do you specialize in one or a few aspects of your field.  There is an immense amount of power that comes from the ability to focus and excel in one area. Don’t be afraid to take a stand and say We are ______ and we help________. While it might be tempting to be “all things to all people,” you will lose credibility in trying to be the expert at everything.

How have you overcome fear in your sales and marketing efforts? Share your experience in the comments below.

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