How to Turn Marketing Fear on Its Head

A polar bear laying and enjoying in the snow while holding one foot up

Meet Ed White.

Ed was born in 1930, and was the first American to walk in space. That’s him in the image above, on June 3, 1965.

Ed left the cramped quarters of the Gemini 4 mission capsule and floated on a tether for 23 glorious minutes while they flew over the Pacific Ocean. He went back inside, reluctantly, when they were over the Gulf of Mexico.

He didn’t want it to end.

How can a person go from performing what should be a terrifying act — one that seems impossible — to enjoying it so much he has to be cajoled into stopping?

Here’s an excerpt of a conversation between commander James McDivitt and White, while White was still outside the capsule:

McDIVITT: They want you to get back in now.

WHITE (laughing): I’m not coming in . . . This is fun.

McDIVITT: Come on.

WHITE: Hate to come back to you, but I’m coming.

McDIVITT: OK, come in then.

WHITE: Aren’t you going to hold my hand?

McDIVITT: Ed, come on in here … Come on. Let’s get back in here before it gets dark.

WHITE: I’m coming back in . . . and it’s the saddest moment of my life.

Are you terrified of marketing?

Marketing your business — especially when you’re doing the work yourself — can feel scary.

The prospect of putting yourself “out there” is frightening.

What if it doesn’t work? What if you do something embarrassing while the world watches? What if all your plans fail you, and your business gets left behind?

In today’s post, we’re going to talk about how to prepare for the seemingly impossible task of marketing your business yourself.

There’s a certain attitude you can adopt that will make it easier to get started, keep at it, and see real results.

How to take the terror out of marketing

Why’s marketing so scary?

Well for one thing, if you don’t have a marketing degree you may feel completely unprepared to do the work.

And so much rides on the results! After all, marketing is the engine that keeps your business humming with new prospects and customers. Get it wrong and things will be very, very quiet. So quiet, your business might not survive.

Another difficulty of marketing your business yourself is that you can’t see your business as an outsider would because you’re in it. You live it. How could you possibly understand how people perceive it from the outside?

The secret to making marketing your business less frightening is to change the way you think about it.

Adopt the spirit of adventure those early astronauts had.

They were doing things that had never been done before, and yet they went toward them fearlessly, and with a sense of fun.

Prepare yourself, then prepare to enjoy the ride

There’s no doubt that much of their carefree attitude came from the extensive preparation astronauts went through before they ever left the ground.

And that’s what we need to do as well: lay the groundwork so we know which direction we’re going to take our marketing.

We spoke about marketing groundwork in last week’s post. Here it is again:

  • You know your ideal customer inside and out.
  • You understand the major challenge your business is going to solve for them.
  • You know what language you’re going to use to talk about your business, from your business name and tagline to your “brand story” — the copy that will explain what you offer in just a few sentences.

Once you’ve laid this groundwork, it’s time for the scariest step of all.

Let’s go back to Gemini 4.

Ignition, and you’re off

The moment of ignition, when the astronauts were about to leave the earth, must have been exhilarating.

But for Ed White, the real moment of ignition came when he stood before an open hatch with all of space in front of him.

To get himself out of the capsule, he had to use a hand-held oxygen-jet gun to push himself out into space.

That’s a little like what we all feel like the first time we put our marketing materials out there.

We’re leaving behind the safety of the known world. We’re putting something out there that we’ve come up with, and we have no idea what will happen next.

A spirit of adventure, and a whole lot of data

In the end, the NASA missions were an excellent way to gather data about our world. All those moments of pushing into the unknown led to advances not only in space travel, but in medicine, science, and even international relations.

When we market our businesses, this same spirit of adventure serves us well.

We create materials, put them out there, and begin to gather data. We discover what works and what doesn’t, and we make adjustments as we go along.

What’s your next marketing adventure?

I’m working on a series of special products that will help you understand marketing and design basics, and they’ll be ready soon.

Now, I want to hear what you’re working on! Head on down to the comment section, and tell our readers about your newest marketing adventure.

Image courtesy NASA.

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson coaches people to build profitable online businesses. She's an online educator, author, and keynote speaker. Read reviews of the tools used to run this site and business. Have you taken the free Focus Finder quiz yet?

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10 thoughts on “How to Turn Marketing Fear on Its Head”

  1. Pamela – I really love this post. Visually. Its understanding and its approach. It’s fabulous.

    two related projects that are in essence marketing –
    – a pilot leadership development program with hospital clinicians where I will have to use IT to keep it going. they cannot and will not meet often in one physical space. So trying to figure out both the elements to keep them engaged in between meetings (I don;t like games, but maybe contests, ….something inspiring and reflective) and the appropriate (and inexpensive) technologies to use. a lot of the webinar and conference call vehicles don;t allow easy GROUP discussion, so people feel they have easy access to one another.
    – a guess that I really need to stage my own webinar or real-space program somewhere and just see who comes. Related to that, I’ve done mastermind groups and they are powerful. I need to figure out a way to draw together a mastermind group from potential clients. I am unsure how. And the question about the technology to link us in virtual meetings arises here too.

    all of this is new to me. Fun because it’s new. And the obstacles and time needed to get them done seem immense bec. they are new to me. Nance Goldstein

  2. I build luxury closet and dressing room interiors. It’s become obvious that the stock and purchased photography on my site doesn’t come anywhere near to depicting the reality of what I design. Sort of like trying to sell someone an aston martin by showing them a picture of a 7 yr old toyota. So I came up with the goal of replacing all the images on my site with my own product shots. This is a massive undertaking – on a shoestring budget! But I do have some very experienced friends. Friends in theatre production who are helping me with lighting design, Another friend who loaned me a corner of a warehouse to build a set. Another friend in a rock band who knows how to get clothes and accessories loaned out for the day as a promotion. I’m in way over my head! But here’s the bottom line – my products deserve this level of attention That’s a fact. And i don’t want to “come back in the capsule” either. I’m having too much fun.

    Thks Pamela – inspirational post

    • Peter, this sounds great! I know this has been a goal of yours for a long time: I’m glad to hear you’re tackling it. Good luck: sounds like you’ll learn a lot by the time you have those images in your hands.

  3. Loved this post too – in my world of psychology and therapy we call this a boundary experience. Generally terrifying and exhilarating.

    I thought of a radio interview I was asked to do. It was awful at first but by the end of it I was enjoying it.

    Now for me the challenge is to get out and initiate such opportunities, rather than waiting to be invited!

    Thanks for the nudge Pamela.

  4. Very good analogy. I can relate to that. I worked with the first seven on Project Mercury. Only two monkeys had preceded the first seven and they weren’t talking.

    We launched our website 20 years ago and yes we have made mistakes along the way. We have also come to know some wonderful people and would not trade the experience for the world.

    Our advice? Go for it. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

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