Fear & Marketing

    October 12, 2007

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of addressing 100 marketers from the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Marketing Association.

As I began to speak, I found that the PowerPoint file was corrupted on the conference’s laptop. And so was the copy on their flash drive. I was faced with doing my presentation with no slides. That experience was enough to put me in a mind to talk about fear today.

No, not the fear of public speaking, although that is a common fear. I want to talk about fear and marketing.

Usually when we talk about fear and marketing, we are talking about how to sell life insurance or some other product where fear motivates our customer. But I want to talk about fear in marketing—the fear that marketers bring to their own jobs.

When I talk to groups about how to "do it wrong quickly," marketers usually understand the idea intellectually. But often, people are gripped with fear. After all, no one really wants to do it wrong. If you’re afraid of what the Internet requires of you, maybe it’s time to take a deep breath and just give it your best shot.

That worked for me yesterday. I took my deep breath and just started to talk to the audience. They were very understanding and appreciated that I did my best—and that I did not make them wait for it to be done right. After all, I could have fired up my own computer and taken several more minutes to start so I could show them the slides. Instead, I did it wrong quickly, by just speaking extemporaneously without the slides. Maybe I would have done a better job with the slides, but it was best not to leave people waiting.

As usual, here are my slides from my talk, Step-by-Step Search Success. It’s just that I am used to having shown them already before I post them. Still, it gave me an adrenaline rush to be reminded that sometimes I need to do what I am exhorting others to do. I know it’s not easy or comfortable to cast aside fear to "do it wrong quickly." It’s just necessary.