Digital marketing is great. It’s transforming businesses and levelling the playing field, allowing small businesses to reach people all over the world who need what we have. It’s often inexpensive and a lot of the routine things which need to be done are in themselves not overly technical and pretty easy to learn ( compared to accounting. ).

What often comes as a surprise for a lot of business owners is that the things which make the difference between breakout online success and a failure is often not the technical or external but, possibly predictably, the inner and emotional. Procrastination in particular.

Procrastination is a big problem for marketing and professional marketers. The online world is distracting and littered with rabbit holes funny youtube videos and tutorials for things we didn’t know, we didn’t know. It’s so easy to fool ourselves into thinking we’re spending our time online productively but the truth is most people generally don’t.

Business success online is a little like physics. There are rules and I’ll share a couple of them here.

Number one of those rules is : Take meaningful action.

Now when I say take meaningful action I can hear 90% of people shouting back that they take action all the time. I’m talking about real productive action. Not fake action.

Action is hard but fake action is frighteningly and alluringly easy.

These things are marketing fake action :

  • Making to do lists.
  • Setting up project plans.
  • Buying equipment or information.
  • Reading books or posts.
  • Looking for inspiration.
  • Waiting for ideas.
  • Looking for the right platform.
  • Setting up systems.
  • Playing with sticky notes.
  • Posting rubbish you know nobody reads on social media.

Number two rule for online success : ‘Create more – consume less’.

This is the mantra which you can use to help break the spell of fake action. Say these words a few times and all your actions will quickly pop into focus. If you feel stuck then repeating these words a few times will allow you to quickly see which of your actions are helpful and which are Fake Action.

Identifying fake action will only take you so far. Actually taking real action has it’s own challenges and when you start to examine them its easy to see why we snap back to fake action so easily. The reason people put off promoting their business or building their personal brand is fear.

Real action isn’t quite as easy to quantify as fake action. I can’t give you a list of examples as easily as I can with fake action and there’s a good reason for that. Everyone builds relationships differently and that’s really all marketing is. Building relationships at scale.

I’d like you to think of someone you know through their marketing. They might be a competitor, a peer or a colleague. They might be anyone you admire. You might think of them as an influencer or an industry figure. What stands out about them? I don’t know who you have in mind but I can guess they all – without exception – have one thing in common. You know about them.

How do you think that happened? Do you think it was an accident, fate or that they really are such a stand out practitioner that the world reshaped itself with them at it’s centre? I don’t think so. What they’ve done is either accidentally or intentionally created and amplified a strong personal brand and you can do this too.

I often get a lot of push back about now. People love the idea of digital marketing and the promise of lots of new business but they really don’t like the idea of being personally visible in their own marketing. Remember what I said about building relationships at scale? How are you going to build relationships at scale if you don’t let people meet you – at scale.

A lot of people I speak to complain of lack of tech, knowledge, experience or insight. Deep down they know that’s not what holds them back. It’s their own fear that people won’t like them.

Fear of rejection. It’s a big problem.

I’m going to share a stat with you. I read it in Russel Brunson’s marketing book called DotCom Secrets so it must be true. I only mention that so you don’t think I made it up.

One third of people – actively do not like you.
One third of people – don’t even notice you.
One third of people – they really like you.

Russel Brunson

If you put yourself out there online in any format you’ll find that those proportions hold true. Your content needs to focus on YOUR third. Your people, audience or tribe. Focus on the people who get you.

When you create content of any kind, be that text, live or recorded video or photographs think of two key things.

1 – Is someone meeting me through this content?
2 – Am I writing for my tribe or being influenced by fear of rejection by those not my tribe?

Personal branding author and coach Chris Ducker puts it like this:

“Market like a magnet. Attract the best and repel the rest.”

Chris Ducker

I know a lot of this doesn’t seem very practical and that’s because the truth is that mindset is probably the biggest barrier to online success. Something I heard goes a way to summing it up.

‘Everything you could ever want is in a room labeled – ‘very scary’.

So I challenge you to think about what really scares you. For a lot of people the simple idea of being seen taking selfie sends them into judgmental fits. You probably hate the sound of your voice on video ( most people do ), you probably think you’re either too old or too young to be taken seriously. Make a list and then burn it because it’s not helping you and it’s not real.

At a marketing conference recently I heard the same question answered two ways.

Question : Whats the next big thing in digital marketing?

Answer one : Courage.
Answer two : The thing you actually do.

If you allow the two thirds of people we know aren’t with you to hold you back then you’ll never reach the third of your audience that really want to hear from you. People buy from people. Your people want to buy from you so make sure they hear from you!

As a final word I’d say that the biggest challenge faced by most business owners is isolation and the only antidote to isolation is community. I’d love you to join my digital marketing support community and let me help you take this further.

About Bob Gentle

I work with businesses of all sizes on digital marketing, host the Amplify digital marketing entrepreneur podcast and work with entrepreneurs to help them amplify their business online.