Well, it’s official.
The New Year is finally upon us, and with it, a host of resolutions, goals, ideas to tackle and habits to break.
Me? I don’t do resolutions, but I do believe in goals. Goals don’t involve wild, obnoxious declarations in your Facebook news feed, and don’t come with shame when given up on by February 1st. Goals allow you to reflect on what you want to accomplish, but without all the external social pressure or judgement. They’re more personal and open-ended. More friendly. More good-intentioned. Or maybe I’m just playing an elaborate game of semantics.
Though new beginnings come with all the hopes of what you want to accomplish, all of that reflection can also give way to fear and insecurity. What if a product or service you’ve resolved to create doesn’t work out? What if it’s not perfect? What if people don’t like it? What if it fails?
I’ve noticed this sneaky thread in my line of work. I hand over a brand new website design, an e-course, a digital product and I hear comments like, “Whoa. This looks so… real! So professional! So legit! I don’t know if I can live up to this…” (And yes, this is a real quote.)
So today, I’d like to take the time to address doubt, fear of failure and that dreaded voice in the back of all of our heads (myself included!) called insecurity.
“I’ve had some time to really reflect on what it is I’m doing… I’m having some doubt where I wonder if anyone will even like my product/service or find it valuable. Sometimes I wonder if I’m just creating things that no one would even care about except me! Can you tell me honestly your thoughts on all of this?”
YES. I have SO MANY THOUGHTS on this. So. Many. Thoughts.
I am no stranger to the good ol’ doubt-demons. In fact, back in June 2013, I quit my full-time job at a marketing and advertising company to pursue my dream of freelancing full-time. Though I’ve been freelancing for 8 years (8 YEARS!) it was never full-time; it was nights, weekends, whenever I could fit it in. All of my eggs weren’t just in one basket, and making this shift was one of the most scary things I’ve ever done.
I have good days and bad days with my confidence-level, and it only takes one tiny e-mail to send me into a spiral of “I’m not good enough,” “How long can I do this?” and the biggie “SHOULD I be doing this?”
I don’t have any answers to this, but my point is to say that we ALL feel this way about our businesses, ourselves, our products, and our services. Also? It sucks big time.
Empathy aside (and believe me, I’ve got empathy for days!) let’s channel this insecurity into a powerful and positive motivator. Instead of languishing in fear and doubting the future let’s remind ourselves to focus 100% our efforts on marketing our products and services so we’re set up for success.
What kinds of marketing am I talking about? Ladies and gentlemen, (cue the music…!) it’s example time!
Let’s say you’re running a study abroad program. With any high-price point product or service, customers will be shopping around to see which program is right for them. While students are comparing programs and visiting other websites, obtaining their e-mail address is crucial so that you can maintain communication with a potential customer long after they leave your website.
Gone are the days where you meekly ask someone to “Join your (sad) e-mail list” on your website. I mean, we’re all drowning in e-mails these days and unless we’re getting something of value, we’ve got a death grip over our e-mail addresses.
But, what if you offered some sort of valuable incentive, like a multi-page PDF with a catchy title like: “5 Things Every Study Abroad Student Must Know Before Traveling” or “3 Mistakes Study Abroad Students Make” or “10 Things Every Study Abroad Student Must See in Italy”, etc…? All of these things can be automated using e-mail marketing programs such as MailChimp or Aweber. In fact, you can set this up to roll out over time. Perhaps the student gets one tip every week for five weeks? This would do tremendous things to keep your business top-of-mind and generating excitement with potential customers on your website.
Guest posting on industry blogs:
Blog owners are always looking for fresh content, relevant materials for their audience and new relationships. Why not target blogs in your industry and offer up a guest blog post that would be of interest to their readers? In fact, your guest post could be about the problem that your product or service solves. Not only does this help to establish your credibility and authority, but guest posting builds website traffic and opens up your products or services to others who might not have found you otherwise.
Insecurity and fear in our businesses is completely universal and you’re not alone. It’s no wonder we all feel this way given that we’re bombarded with carefully curated online personalities where we’re all perfect healthy people, frozen in mid-laugh, with flawless, flourishing businesses, balancing laptops on lounge chairs from private fancy beaches somewhere. #lifeisnotadrpeppercommerical #designrant
Though I’m a Graphic Designer who eats, sleeps and breathes design, I also know that it takes more than a pretty website, product or service to succeed in this world. You’ve gotta get your proverbial marketing, social media and SEO “ducks in a row,” too. I strive to provide value to my Clients by taking the guess work out of their marketing and design materials, making things easy as possible and providing helpful suggestions and a list of resources that may benefit your business both inside and outside the realm of design.
Because I give a damn.