In school, during both my undergraduate courses and my MBA classes, I took Marketing 101, or something close to that. I learned the four P’s: product, price, place, and promotion. I aced the class.
When I started my first business at age 13, I ran an ad and was able to get clients. It was no big deal. When I wanted to earn some part-time money during college doing bookkeeping (before I passed my CPA exam), I answered an ad and found clients. It was no big deal. When I started a part-time photography studio in the 1980s, I sent out press releases and direct mail and got clients. It was no big deal. I was doing all of this on the side while I had full-time jobs paying the rent and everything else.
But when I got laid off in the 1990s and needed clients in order to go out on my own and pay my own rent, something in me snapped. I was scared to death. I suddenly had no idea how to get started getting clients. I could have run an ad, but I didn’t. I could have sent out direct mail, but I didn’t.
It wasn’t that I didn’t know the nuts and bolts of marketing. I did.
It was that there was an ingredient to marketing that was missing for me. The problem with marketing is that you can take all of the Marketing 101 classes in the world, but still be lousy at marketing and not have enough clients as a result.
The problem is that there is an ingredient missing they don’t teach you in school, and that’s confidence.
What made marketing harder in the 1990s for me were three things:
It was important. My business now had to pay the rent. I had to live off of my own self-employment for the first time in my life. This is pretty scary to most people.
I was selling myself. I was no longer selling bookkeeping, photography, or horseback riding lessons. It was personal. When they rejected my business, they rejected me.
I had the know-how, but I didn’t have the mindset. I lacked the level of confidence I needed.
As an entrepreneur, here’s where you need to be completely honest with yourself. Ask yourself how much of your marketing challenges are:
From lack of hard skills. Do you have no idea where to begin, really? You don’t know what networking is, you don’t know how to hire a webmaster, and you don’t know how to get your business cards done? This requires a Marketing 101 class.
From lack of implementation. Do you know you need to go to networking meetings but you don’t? Do you know you need to send out direct mail, but don’t? Do you know you need a web site, but haven’t updated it? This requires a Marketing and Mindset 101 course. You need a mindset shift along with what to do. You need a boost in confidence and a support system that will help you change your reluctance to market.
Here’s a great example of what you need in #2: A regular marketing course will give advice such as “You need to have a follow-up system.” A marketing course with mindset coaching will give advice like, “You might feel like you are bugging them if you follow-up. Here’s how to get around that.”
It’s not easy to develop the confidence to sell yourself. It’s tough. Even after 16 years of self-employment for me, rejection hurts. Losing the prospect is painful. Criticism aches. Returns are bummers. Even unsubscribes sting. But life and business go on, and you learn to deal with it in a constructive and businesslike manner. Most importantly, you can’t let it throw off your rhythm. You have to implement; you have to execute.
You’re unlikely to get rich in this economy with just the hard skills of marketing. Having the right marketing mindset, with confidence, is the missing ingredient that will make you incredibly wealthy.