How to Prevent Marketing Paralysis – Chapter 4

Last time we discussed one symptom of marketing paralysis: the glazed over look. Now, we’ll discuss two more symptoms: going down the rabbit hole and second-guessing/overthinking.

 According to the English Oxford Dictionary, ‘going down the rabbit hole’ refers to “a bizarre, confusing, or nonsensical situation or environment, typically one from which it is difficult to extricate oneself.”

This is an irresistible and uncontrollable urge to dive into the nitty-gritty and, unwittingly get stuck in the weeds of your situation. Rather than taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, you focus on the minute details of your marketing campaign: the colors for your promotional information, key words to be used in your website, which social media platform to use, etc. Details, details, details.

There’s a time and place for the details. Don’t get me wrong, details can be complicated and can cause problems. But, don’t let the minutia drag you down in the early stages of creating a marketing campaign.

Think of a time when going down the rabbit hole hindered or halted your progress on a project. Now, think of a time when going down the rabbit hole helped you.

Now you know the three causes of marketing paralysis (using the wrong model of marketing, getting unhelpful or misguided advice, and information overload). You can identify two of the three signs and symptoms of marketing paralysis (the glaze and going down the rabbit hole).

We now focus on the third symptom: Second-guessing and overthinking.

Second-guessing and overthinking occurs when you question and doubt every decision you make, large or small. You think too much about your next move or think for too long. You expend emotional energy anticipating or predicting what negative thing might happen. Your thinking gets cloudy and your anxiety hits the roof. You wind up in the world of negativity. The result can be total shut down of your thinking and marketing efforts. Not good.

I’ve heard the following statements more than once from people starting out in business. “I’m always second guessing myself about my ability to start a business. I question whether I’m able to sell and whether I’m good enough to compete in the market.”

How can your prevent overthinking and second-guessing?

  1. Stay clear of others who ‘want to help you solve your problem’
  2. Go to the gym and sweat off your negativity (a symptom of over-thinking)
  3. Go for the ‘quick win’. Find a small project that’s easy to do and that gives you some payoff
  4. It takes about 20 minutes to calm down after experiencing an upsetting situation. Take 20 minutes to collect your thoughts.


There’s lots more tips and tactics to build your business in Critical Connections-The Step-by-Step Guide to Transform Your Business Through Referral Marketing

Snail Mail From Some Desperate People

I recently decided to take a good look the junk mail I receive before tossing most of them in the garbage. I thought there might be some new and effective promotional ideas floating around in the world of direct marketing. I was quite surprised what I saw.

I’m going to review four pieces of mail. Spoiler Alert: I was appalled at what I saw.

I know it’s a challenge to imagine what these mailers look like, but use your imagination.

How Not to Sell Financial Planning Services

This gem came in in the form of a 5×8 folded card stuffed in an envelope. On the card’s cover is a color drawing of a turtle. A business card is included. A handwritten note on the folded card read:

Dear.Mr. Leepson,

Enclosed is my card because I have client meetings in your area the week of (Month, Day, Year) and would be happy to meet with you to discuss retirement planning or tax reduction strategies.

John (not his real name)

 I’m wondering:

  • Who is this guy?
  • I’m live in Maryland and he lives in Philadelphia. Why would I hire someone who doe not live in my community?
  • How did he get my name?
  • Why would I want to contact him?
  • What’s the story with the turtle?
  • Am I an afterthought? (maybe he can fit me in after his ‘client meetings’)
  • Why didn’t he have a ‘call for action’?

I remember reading an article in the Washington Post (March 27, 2016) called 10 Steps in Hiring a Financial Advisor. I quote: The first step in hiring a financial advisor is: “Ask Friends: Just as you rely on friends or relatives to find the best doctor or dentist, they can help you find a reliable financial advisor, too. Also, ask work colleagues or friends. Don’t seek out names in the phone book or online”.

 My advice to John: Hire a professional direct marketing copywriter and graphic designer to create your campaign.


How to Infantilize Your Customers

A local real estate agent sent this to me. The business envelope contained a flyer, a business card, and a scratch-off lottery ticket. The copy on the outside envelope, written in red, said Lottery Ticket Inside followed by four exclamation points. On the flyer, there is a childlike drawing of two flowers in flower pots.

The enclosed business card had the requisite smiling photo of the real estate agent with ten lines of copy on one side. On the reverse side of the business card was a 25-word mission statement or something like that.

The lottery ticket was a nice gimmick. It was an effective way to get me to open the envelope. Was it necessary? Maybe. Was a subliminal message being conveyed that selling my house would be a gamble? What does a lottery ticket have to do with real estate?

Have you ever seen a 10-year child use WordArt from PowerPoint to make a flyer? The title of the flyer sure looked that way.

There were twelve exclamation points throughout the flyer. The type was 18 point, bold and purple. Two words were written in bold capitals. There were three cheap looking and amateurish clip art illustrations placed randomly on the page.

My advice to the real estate agent: Look at how other real estate agents in you area are using direct marketing to sell houses. Copy their style. In my part of town, I see real estate agents use over-sized, full-color postcards with photos of properties.


Tooth Decay

I love receiving mailings from dentists. Lots of PhotoShopped smiles and goofy grins. When I first looked at this piece, I thought it was a 5½ x 8½ card. I didn’t notice that it was actually an 8½ x 11 sheet folded in half. This mailer was developed by an advertising agency specializing in dental marketing. I wonder how much this must have cost the dentist? Here’s the headline:

We Love Insurance. Why would anyone love insurance? What is it about insurance that’s loving?

Here are some other irritating things about this mailer.

  • Distracting ampersands (&) are used throughout. This is distracting for the reader and prevents the eye from moving seamlessly through the copy
  • The names of the dentist or dentists are never mentioned.
  • There are five photos of women and three photos of children. I guess men don’t need to go to the dentist. Yes, I know that women make most of the healthcare decisions for the family, so I’ll cut this dental practice some slack.
  • The copy reads One Trusted Office For All Your Dental Needs, yet there are two locations. Which office should you trust?

My advice to the dentist: Contact your ad agency and ask for your money back.


What Is It About These Dentists?

This is an 11×6, two-sided glossy postcard. A company that specializes in direct mail promotion created it. On the address side, there is a smiling photo of the dentist. There are 146 words of content, including the phrase…”A different kind of dentist”. In my opinion, a dentist is a dentist is a dentist.

To make things worse and to add to the clutter to the mailer, there is a coupon for a NO CHARGE exam and x-ray (normally a $400 value). There has to be a catch. At the bottom of the coupon it states:

  • Limited time (doesn’t say how long)
  • Offer only good for residents over 50
  • Must live in the town where the dentist practices

On the flip side of the card, the copy reads Meet a dentist who really cares. Do you know a dentist that doesn’t care?

When free services are offered via coupons, consumers take advantage of the freebie and tend not to purchase the service.

My advice to the dentist: Be clear and more specific about your offer.

This was a disappointing drive down the direct marketing road. If you’re thinking about using direct marketing to promote your business, there are tons of resources online that can guide you through the process of creating effective and creative mailers.


There’s lots more tips and tactics to build your business in Critical Connections-The Step-by-Step Guide to Transform Your Business Through Referral Marketing

How To Prevent Marketing Paralysis – Chapter 3

Signs and Symptoms

Now you are familiar with the three causes of marketing paralysis (using the wrong model of marketing, getting unhelpful or misguided advice, and information overload). We now move from causes of marketing paralysis to a discussion of the signs and symptoms of marketing paralysis.

One debilitating symptom is the glazed-over look in your eyes. The glazed over look is caused by information overload. It’s the look you get when trying to take your marketing ideas from concept to implementation. What happens to you? You lose clear vision and assume a dull, bored appearance. This is noticeable to those who look at you. You can’t seem to concentrate on your work and look like you have not slept in days. When your eyes glaze over, they become fixed and shiny, as if you are not seeing anything.

Some people, when working, get so spaced out that their computer screen looks blurry. It’s especially hard to avoid getting that glazed-over look when you’re using your tablet. The symptom tends to get worse if you’re trying to work at Starbucks. It’s been reported that some sufferers drift off to an alien galaxy. This is not good.

Have you experienced a glazed-over look when the dreaded word “marketing” is mentioned or when you’re trying to create your marketing campaign? Can you tell if you’re beginning to feel your eyes glaze over? If so, what do you experience?

Just being aware of what’s happening to you is the first step to recovery.


There’s lots more tips and tactics to build your business in Critical Connections-The Step-by-Step Guide to Transform Your Business Through Referral Marketing

How To Prevent Marketing Paralysis – Chapter 2

Here are two more causes of marketing paralysis

Marketing Paralysis Cause II

Getting unhelpful or misguided advice. It’s always a good idea to talk things over with a friend and get some advice. You might want to discuss a new idea, clarify a stumbling block, or just plain talk about your business. If you’re considering starting a solo business, it gets lonely quickly in the early stages of planning your business strategies.

Key point: People love to give advice. When someone gives you advice, there’s a good chance that the advice they give you is more about what the other person needs rather than what you need. Be careful and don’t get sucked in to their advice.

Phone a friend who is not employed in your industry or profession. You might want fresh eyes on your situation. You want the other person’s perspective. However, there might be times when you’ll want to talk to someone in your field of business.

When you initially talk with your friends, do not ask your friends to solve your problem for you. Ask them not to give you advice. Ask them to listen and act as a sounding board. Sometimes, just saying aloud what your situation is can be helpful. Now, you can brainstorm ideas or solutions.

Marketing Paralysis Cause III

So far, we’ve discussed two of the three main causes of marketing paralysis – using the wrong marketing model and getting unhelpful or misguided advice. You were presented with some tips and suggestions to immunize yourself against marketing paralysis. The third cause of marketing paralysis information overload.

There are thousands of marketing resources online –print books on marketing; ebooks, self-help guides, websites focusing on how to use social media, e-seminars and podcasts. To make things even more overwhelming I found a website that listed 72 different definitions of marketing. That’s a lot of information!

Look at the Small Business Administration’s ( website. There are all sorts of resources available on how to market and build a small business. They have 42 online training courses and 69 videos. Reading these definitions can contribute to marketing paralysis.

There are a lot of ‘professional’ marketers out there willing to take your money to help you build a marketing plan. These self-proclaimed marketing gurus tend to profess quick solutions to complex marketing problems. They encourage you to purchase their guides and marketing plan outline. Chances are, these plans contain more information than you need.

Look back at the three causes of marketing paralysis: using the wrong model of marketing; getting unhelpful or misguided advice, and information overload. Is there one particular cause of marketing paralysis that you can relate to? Are you using the model that best fits your business?


There’s lots more tips and tactics to build your business in Critical Connections-The Step-by-Step Guide to Transform Your Business Through Referral Marketing