Hating marketing is a sentiment that’s expressed by a huge proportion of the soloists I speak to and, in my experience, is one of the most limiting beliefs and counterproductive mindsets a small business owner can possibly adopt.
Do you really want to hate any aspect of your business? Can it possibly bloom and thrive if you do? And can you really achieve the personal rewards you were dreaming of when you chose this lifestyle if there’s a fundamental aspect of it that you actively detest?
With so many small business owners proclaiming they hate marketing, it’s a mindset that’s become somewhat normalised, and consequently is rarely questioned.
That doesn’t seem very helpful to me, so lately whenever someone has told me that they hate marketing, I’ve been responding with a single word: “Why?”
The results have been eye-opening. It turns out that most of those I’ve been talking to don’t hate marketing per se; they hate the way that thinking about their marketing or sitting down to get to work on it makes them feel.
Dig a bit deeper and some common underlying issues are revealed – issues that are sometimes surprisingly easy to shift once you change your approach or attitude.
Feeling 1: “I hate marketing because I’m worried about what people will think of me.”
If you’ve spent any time whatsoever on social media in the last decade, you’ve undoubtedly been exposed to some form of marketing that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. None of us wants to be perceived as one of those marketers … the ones who make outrageous promises are blatantly self-promotional or who seem to be in it only for the money.
Several soloists I’ve talked to judge those marketers very harshly and find the whole thing so distasteful they’d rather do no marketing at all than run the risk of being seen as one of those marketers themselves.
Remedy: The fabulous thing about marketing your own business is that you get to set the standards of what you will and won’t put out into the marketplace. So you can remedy this mindset by making a firm commitment to yourself that you will always use good judgement in your marketing, and will never engage in any form of promotional activity that makes you or your audience feel even the slightest bit icky.
Tip: If you’re not sure how to achieve this goal, start by focussing your marketing on your customer, not on yourself or your business.
Feeling 2: “I hate marketing because I’m worried people will discover I’m not good enough.”
Assuming your business is above board, and you’re not avoiding attention because you’re doing something illegal or immoral, the desire to avoid exposure often seems to be a symptom of Impostor Syndrome. This is the sense you’re masquerading as an expert rather than actually being one, and brings with it the fear that you could be unmasked and revealed as a fraud at any moment.
Remedy: To help convince yourself, your clients and your inner Imposter that you really do have the credentials to do what you do, use your marketing to educate your audience on what you can do for them. Sharing your experience and expertise with real case studies or practical insights helps potential clients feel they’re in safe hands, and simultaneously reminds you that you really do know what you’re talking about.
Feeling 3: “I hate marketing because I don’t know what I’m doing.”
None of us is born knowing how to market a business, so if you feel like you’re floundering a bit, please, don’t beat yourself up.
Remedy: Make a commitment to learning and experimentation so you’re able to become a more competent marketer over time.
Tip: My biggest tip here is to make the learning less intimidating by chunking it into bite-sized pieces you can tackle one at a time.
Many new businesses owners jump into execution feet first by deciding that they’re going to start by learning to use marketing tools like Twitter, Facebook or Google Ads.
However, those tools have limited value if you haven’t yet gotten to grips with the thinking that goes into effective marketing, so my recommendation is that you focus first on educating yourself on the basics. (Things like identifying your unique selling proposition or USP, for example).
Once you’re clear about what you want to achieve, and how you plan to achieve it, you’ll be well placed to up-skill yourself on the mechanics of bringing it all to life.
Feeling 4: “I hate marketing because nothing I do works.”
Frustrating as it is, marketing a small business is usually an iterative process. You try something, see if it works, tweak it a little (or a lot) and try again.
Spend time and money on that process for a while, and it’s easy to start hating marketing if you do not see results – especially if you had limited time and/or funds in the first place.
Remedy: The remedy for this particular manifestation of marketing hatred sometimes involves a bit of tough love or hiring a marketing consultant or coach to help you put a more effective strategy together. You might need to go back to the drawing board and ask some hard questions about your product offering, your pricing, your marketing messages or the audience you’re trying to connect with.
You may not always like the answers, but that doesn’t mean they won’t contain information that you can use to make your marketing stronger.
When you finally crack the code and start seeing sales enquiries coming through the door, I promise you’ll quickly transform from being a business owner who hates marketing to one who loves it passionately!
Are you a lover or a hater when it comes to marketing? Please share your experiences, and any tips that have helped you learn to love your marketing in the comments.