You probably believe (or at least hope) that your company has a vibrant brand — a position in the market that you can call your own. But a true brand is really hard to build. And of all the things that can cripple or even kill a brand, fear tops the list. Fear chokes off a brand’s power to build your business in two critical ways.
First, fear makes marketers or business owners avoid creative solutions — ideas that could be truly game changing. Those ideas might involve changing products or services, or changing the way they’re delivered. But most of the time, they’re about changing the marketing itself. And most never see the light of day.
Here’s why. If your marketing messages look and sound like the industry norm, they feel safe and comfortable. They don’t make waves. They don’t ruffle feathers. They get approved easily. They look the way they’re supposed to.
In other words, they blend in perfectly. And they sink without a trace.
Breakthrough ideas make us nervous. They’re risky. They’re untested. They’re not what everyone else is doing.
So even though they can cut through the clutter and engage the prospect, they sit on a shelf unused, out of hesitation or nervousness.
But blending in, while it feels safe and sure, is neither. It’s brand repellent — and it’s nearly 100% effective.
That leads us to the other kind of fear: fear of senior management. Not that senior management is inherently scary. But senior management does not like different. In fact, most senior management hates different. Senior management got to be senior management by being careful and watching numbers. Senior management did not become senior management by taking chances.
Over the years, countless frustrated marketers have shared how they were hired to energize a brand, only to watch their ideas for doing exactly that die a slow, painful death. Over time, death comes more quickly, but no less painfully.
The end result? A demotivated marketing director or team stops trying to do anything that would truly move the needle, because, in their words, it’s just not worth the fight.
By the way, if you’re senior management, and you don’t buy this, take a good look at your marketing. Does it really seem different from your competition?
If not, and if you have good marketing people, then there’s a culture where actual branding — standing out in your market in a consistent and meaningful way — isn’t a goal and isn’t valued. Rather, it’s silently discouraged. Quietly crippled. Leaving money and talent on the table.
It’s simple math. To sell anything, you have to be heard. To be heard, you have to stand out. To stand out takes a team willing, able and empowered to try new ideas, to make a few mistakes, and to discover different ways to sell what you have to offer.
Remember, fear eats the soul. But not if the soul eats it first.
What has to change for you to market fearlessly?