For the professional, a key driver of marketing success comes down to one phrase: “Getting your name out there.” In today’s digital and social media-driven business world, this would seem to be easier to accomplish than ever.
And yet, it isn’t. Whether it’s content marketing, public relations, or building one’s social media presence, there are numerous reasons why professionals find it difficult to succeed in marketing themselves. One of the reasons? Perfectionism.
In order to succeed, professionals such as lawyers, consultants, and accountants need to aim high. Excellence is not an option – it’s a requirement by clients.
While some claim that the healthy reach for excellence – such as with top athletes – is just another form of perfectionism, there is a distinction. Paul Hewitt, PhD, for example, stated in an American Psychological Association article by Etienne Benson that the desire to excel and the desire to be perfect are two different things.
Marketing: 80% of Success Is Showing Up
While the work product done for clients needs to be airtight, professionals need to realize that marketing efforts aren’t defined in the same way. The client-facing attitude needs to be switched off when entering marketing mode. For example:
- That client advisory email blast does not need to analyze every single aspect of a cutting-edge topic.
- An article that doesn’t solve the world’s problems but simply calls attention to a business issue that some may not have noticed yet is definitely okay to go live on the blog.
- Being slightly misquoted by a reporter does not mean the world is going to come to an end, or that your reputation has been permanently ruined.
Or, as AnxietyBC, a non-profit organization, states it, “Perfectionists tend to believe that anything short of perfection is horrible, and that even minor imperfections will lead to catastrophe.”
While the word “catastrophe” may overstate many professionals’ reluctance to market themselves, one has to admit that the statement above does accurately describe the fear that many have of marketing. Getting your name “out there” is rarely a cut-and-dried process.
Strategies for Success
So how should professionals go about the marketing game? Here are a few pointers:
- Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable. When you speak to a reporter, the way you are quoted may not always come out the way you intended. When your article goes online, you may notice a mistake or yet another edit you would have liked to make. And so on. Such occurrences happen all the time.One person who is a master of being comfortable with being uncomfortable is Richard Branson, the Virgin founder. He gets into all sorts of “uncomfortable” public situations, but his reputation as a businessman is still solid. Case in point: Branson dressing in drag after losing a public bet. This only endears him to the market.
- Learn to Say “Enough is Enough.” There are countless stories of how well-known authors wrote and rewrote passages in their work. Ernest Hemingway once stated, “I rewrote the ending to Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, thirty-nine times before I was satisfied.” Obsessive? Maybe. A pursuit of excellence? Maybe. But I’ll bet you after publication he had yet further ideas on how to rewrite it.The point is: it’s important to realize that you may never get it perfect. Musicians write and record songs, and yet years later while touring in concert they continue fiddling with their work. Oftentimes they improve on their work, but at a certain point they had to cut the record and get on with it.
- Relationships Are Never Easy. So you were quoted in an article. The quote didn’t come out as planned. As long as your statement wasn’t egregiously wrong, don’t make a big deal out of it.I recall working with a successful law partner who was misquoted. He blew his top, called the reporter, demanded a retraction, etc. etc. Holy moly. That was the last time that reporter ever reached out to him.No reporter is perfect. Or spouse. Or friend. We have relationships with our friends and significant others, and this is the way we should think of journalists. So if they got something wrong, think in the long term. Reach out to them. Explain why what they wrote was off the mark. Offer explanations so that they can be smarter. Tell them you value them reaching out to you, and you look forward to the next time you can help them out. It’s impossible that they’ll get it perfectly correct every time. But it is possible that you can build a relationship that helps the reporter and helps you “get your name out there,” again and again. After all, isn’t that was this is all about?