Let’s be frank: it’s 2020, yet far too many stable businesses are falling behind in their digital marketing efforts. Their competitors, younger digitally-minded companies, are progressing fast and capturing an ever-increasing share of the pie.
In most cases, traditional companies get stuck in indecision. They simply cannot decide who to hire and what to focus on. Or they make digital marketing decisions too slowly or conservatively. But those are just symptoms of something deeper. These companies fail due to a number of psychological and sociological barriers.
I cannot repeat this enough times – an idea is only as great as its execution. These establishments have likely already spent money on marketing consulting services, yet have stumbled over a variety of barriers when it came to implementing the marketing plans.
Modern digital marketing campaigns can be complicated, multi-dimensional projects that focus on email, content, and social media initiatives.
They can be intimidating. It can seem like too much — and it can seem like unless you can do it all well, it’s not worth doing. And no one says that companies should come equipped with top-notch digital marketing or develop into a digitally-first company overnight.
The reality is that nearly every company has barriers to overcome to implement a robust marketing system. Nonetheless, those hurdles must be jumped to keep your business competitive in the market and in the black.
Psyching Yourself Out With Psychological Barriers
Perhaps the most dastardly of the psychological barriers you’ll face when pushing forward with implementing a new marketing system are the ones in your head. These sorts of issues can arise at any point within the decision making and implementation process, unravelling the best intentions.
The types of psychological barriers you’ll face might include uncertainty of the best way forward, it-has-to-be-perfect syndrome, being overwhelmed by the task, and chronic procrastination.
Facing Low Confidence and Uncertainty
Not having confidence in your marketing plan can result in it not getting off the ground — it’s that way with nearly any project. The lack of certainty will often come in several forms. You can be:
- Unsure of the merits and data behind the plan,
- Unsure of your team’s abilities to implement the plan, or
- Unsure of the need for the plan in the first place.
The first step to clearing this hurdle is trusting. You have to work with a marketing agency that inspires trust but also you have to offer trust and let them do their job. Pick a marketing agency that can provide robust, reliable data to back their recommendations and follow-up procedures to help you visualize whether or not you’re on the right path.
If not, they need to be able to help you adjust accordingly.
Remember, all companies take the same risks as you when it comes to the digital space. You are not alone. The ones that succeed, encourage, and smartly push their agencies and employees forward.
They are not too hands-off or too hands-on. And that requires practicing trust.
Don’t Be Afraid of Failure
Okay, let’s be honest, entrepreneurs don’t want to think about failure. In fact, thinking about failure can mentally hold you back from investing what it takes into your businesses to make it thrive. Nonetheless, more than 50% of startups crash and burn within the first four years.
But that’s 100% more businesses succeeding than those that were never given a chance.
Often, however, you’re not worried about your whole business failing, you’re concerned about any given marketing plan or new initiative coming up short — especially if it’s tied to your name and reputation. This often results in a sort of perfectionism that ends up hurting your bottom line.
The time it takes to pursue an idea to perfection — trying to get it right in a single iteration — can paralyze your company. It leaves a company motionless as competitors drive forward, making small mistakes but considerable gains along the way.
And if all of your success feels like it depends on this new marketing push, then you have to consider why you’re so dependent on this. If you find yourself in such a position, it’s probably too late. Marketing alone won’t save your organization.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Invest in marketing before things get bad.
Overcome Being Overwhelmed
Small business owners and entrepreneurs know a thing or two about being overwhelmed. There are simply too many logistics up in the air to not be teetering on the verge of being overwhelmed. This tends to mean that projects that are not immediately understood as being vital are moved to a backburner.
Far too many vital marketing initiatives are sitting on small businesses’ backburners.
In these situations, you might have confidence in the utility of the marketing plan, but there is a lack of urgency that can result in your business falling further and further behind.
Chronic procrastination can be a result of feeling overwhelmed, a fear of failure, uncertainty, and several other negative feelings.
No matter what the reasons for your chronic procrastination in launching a marketing effort, the first step is identifying it. The second step is establishing an actionable to-do list with a clear timeline.
By moving things forward one small step at a time on an established timeline, you can gain the momentum necessary to transfer your marketing initiatives from the backburner to launched.
Not Succumbing to Sociological Barriers
Even if there are not any personal psychological barriers preventing you from launching your next marketing endeavor, there are often sociological issues that will leave a project hanging.
These can take the form of company culture, lack of social support, and lack of perceived leadership buy-in.
Crushed by Company Culture
Legacy companies are notorious for resisting change. This can be anything from a change in products to change in marketing plans. They often have a tradition of doing their work a certain way and a history of it being profitable.
However, is it still optimal? Probably not. Is it possibly threatening the long-term health of the company? Almost certainly so.
We have to be careful that what we see is skepticism isn’t actually cynicism. They are not the same thing. A certain dose of skepticism, of questioning things is healthy. But when it crosses into resistance, anger, or pure stubbornness, what may seem as cautiousness may lead to making poor decisions.
If you’re running a company that has a culture of resisting change, you’ll have to start by redesigning that culture before you can gain the needed support to move forward with innovative — and profitable — marketing plans.
Lack of Social Support
A lack of social support for driving forward with new initiatives is inseparably connected to the idea of company culture.
It is hard to rally support for an idea when it goes against company norms and values — stated, as well as unstated. Almost without thinking, many people will push back against changes in roles and relationships.
Who is responsible for LinkedIn marketing, is it sales or is it marketing? Can we even still separate marketing and sales? And can we separate social media from customer service?
Impactful changes often require implementing new marketing systems.
Along these same lines is human nature’s desire to conform within group dynamics. So even those who come into an organization with bright ideas of how to enact positive changes can quickly find themselves overcome by the social pressures to conform to norms within a business.
Want better digital marketing? Lead with a culture that promotes openness, diversity and independent thinking.
Poor Leadership Buy-In
Though many people like to believe in grassroots efforts, they have no place in business. As the cliche goes, “Change starts at the top but happens at the bottom.”
Like most cliches, that one is absolutely true.
If your team doesn’t present a solid argument for changing the status quo, that doesn’t mean it’s not possible.
You really have to ask questions like, “Do I have the right people in place to facilitate this?” Truly, no one should have to convince you to do this because it’s not a fad and it’s not something that will go away anytime soon.
All that said, if your team presents a poor plan, they are probably not the right people to execute it.
The real issue, then, is not those moments when a CEO is not interested. The issue is when the CEO’s interest is not perceived and understood by those who can push a plan forward.
This can often be fixed by keeping top leadership in high-visibility situations, rather than behind office doors. If a company is ready for change, it’s best for every level of management to be seen as actively pursuing it and promoting it.
Final Thoughts: Breaking Down the Psychological Barriers Impeding Marketing Success
It is far too easy to push off vital marketing efforts until it’s too late. Often, small and large businesses have so many other logistical issues to manage that upgrading marketing strategies sits on a backburner until it’s too late.
Sadly, many businesses will invest the money and energy into digital marketing strategies and plans, only to fail to follow through with most of the suggestions made. By examining the psychological and sociological barriers that might be holding your business back, you can design strategies to overcome them and get yourself out of a rut you might not even be aware you’re stuck in.
Let the experts at Lightspan Digital not only guide your data-driven marketing efforts but also help you breakdown the barriers stopping you from implementing an optimal marketing strategy.