Procrastinators Unite!

Your motivation is just a step away.

Are you a marketing procrastinator?

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  • Do you feel overwhelmed at the idea of marketing?
  • Do you know dozens of marketing techniques but you are having trouble taking the first step?
  • Are you about to launch a brand new product or business but now realize you focused so much on the business or creative parts of the process that you neglected putting a launch campaign together?
  • Have you created a detailed marketing plan but your inner marketing procrastinator keeps putting it into motion?
  • Do you have ADHD and the thought of settling down and knocking out marketing your latest thing makes your skin crawl?
  • Are you dealing with trauma, stress, or a serious health condition that is requiring so much time and attention that you haven’t been able to devote time to marketing your work?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, this article is for you.

Let’s get into the flow…

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Why is starting so darned difficult?

First off, marketing isn’t just a thing. It’s many, many things that turn into never-ending tasks if you want to launch and then ramp up sales or ROI over time. It requires many, many skills that you may or may not have in your arsenal initially:

  • designing graphics
  • shooting video/photography
  • persuasion techniques
  • writing snappy copy
  • launching and tweaking ads
  • social media marketing
  • newsletter drip campaigns
  • website design | sales funnels
  • where to safely buy assets like fonts, graphics, etc.
  • analyzing sales data
  • managing and organizing all of the above so you can figure out what’s working and what isn’t.

Whew! That’s a long list. And it’s no wonder many of us run screaming away from all of that. Quite frankly, that’s way too much for one person to do while simultaneously running a business at the same time. And if you’re a small business or solopreneur, you may not have the budget to outsource a lot (or even) any marketing tasks when first starting out.

Sure, it’d be great if you could so you can focus on creating the best products and services you can. Because that’s why you started your business in the first place, right? What’s that Field of Dreams movie adage, again? “Build it and they will come”? Oh, if only it were that simple!

So what’s the solution for this Mt. Everest of never-ending tasks?

One thing.

To overcome your inner marketing procrastinator, it’s as simple as one thing. That’s it. Choose just one thing in that massive pile of STUFF and do it. And if you find that even that’s too much, break down that one thing into a pile of smaller things and choose just ONE of those to start with.

Because the answer is always going to be simply taking the first step in the right direction. Not to go too far down the cliche route, but… I freely admit, when I watched the movie Frozen II last year, Anna’s song “The Next Right Thing” hit me in the gut like a Thanos gauntlet punch. It was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment in time because I was working through a serious illness that left me feeling chronically overwhelmed. And even though I’m now feeling a lot better, that “do the next right thing” thing has stuck with me—so much so that I typed it out in a pretty script font, printed it out, and taped it up next to my coffeemaker as a reminder. I’m a solopreneur, after all, so I need to have my hand in all of the above skill sets in order to make a living.

So what is your next right thing?

Here are three ideas to get you started.

The simplest answer for you would be whatever gets you moving in the direction you WANT to go. Notice I didn’t say “need” there?

That was purposeful because one of the more useful places to begin when you start to get overwhelmed is writing down your “why” first. Your “why” is quite literally your company’s brand. Why did you get into this business in the first place? What was your goal? To help students reach their potential? To become the best in your field? To innovate in a stagnating field? To have the freedom to pursue your passion?

Idea 1: What’s your “why”?

Your “why” can be a fantastic place to build out from. It can inform the aesthetic of your website, underly the verbiage of your ad copy, and direct your marketing plans for years to come. Think of it in terms of a mind map. At the center you write your “why” phrase. And branching out from there you can fine-tune that single phrase into more detailed action steps. Here’s an example below. This one is actually my mind map for this website and this branch of my business.

(Quick tip: I created this particular mind map on my iPad using the native FreeForm app. It’s a newer app on Apple devices. I’ve been experimenting with it lately and absolutely love it. Highly recommend.)

Mind Map on My Business's "Why." Designed by Cheri Lasota for WayFlow Hub.

Idea 2: Start with what you know

Marketing and advertising can, of course, be overwhelming and can easily lead to burn out. Creating a marketing plan is an excellent idea, but a good first step before that is taking an inventory of your own skill sets and personality traits.

While it’s possible to learn many skills along the way, it’s likely best to start out by leveraging what you’re good at first and figuring out if you can or want to outsource the rest.

As an example, if you are incredibly camera shy, on-camera TikTok videos may be too stressful. But Amazon ads might be a good alternative to explore. Or vice versa. If you can format your book’s interior but are clueless about cover design, you could format your books while hiring a professional designer to handle the covers. If you can create ad graphics but find you want to spend more time writing instead, you could outsource those, etc.

Idea 3: What’s your endgame?

Also deciding initially on your marketing goals is important. Your budget may play a large part in goal setting as well. If your goal is to make a living at writing, for example, then planning series books for follow-through reads or using newsletter ad services like Bookbub will be important ideas to consider. So, to start, ask yourself: what is my definition of success? When will I know I’ve “made it”? And that’s a great question to ponder both for your marketing plan and your business’s trajectory in general.

Any one of the above ideas (creating a mind map, pondering your why, deciding on goals, etc.) can be step 1 in your “do the next right thing” thing, you know.

And here’s another tip from the pros: you can absolutely add tasks you’ve already completed to a to-do list just for the pure satisfaction of checking off that item. It can be even more satisfying if you have an app that makes a happy little cha-ching noise any time you check off an item (TickTick app is my fav!). 😉

Break it down.

If you’re STILL procrastinating or anxious or burnt out (or insert your particular stressor issue here), there’s hope yet. Because all that means is you need to break down your current steps even further.

How to break down Idea 1 up there? Take out a piece of computer paper and your favorite pen. Draw a circle dead center on the page. Then put your thinking cap on about why you started your biz. If you just accidentally fell into it, you can still add your “why” after the fact. It will truly help inform every action you take from here on out. It can be a target, a guiding North Star. It can help you decide where to spend your marketing budget, whether you want to expand your services, or even if you want to sell the business to your cousin Joey.

“Small moves, Ellie. Small moves.”

You get a gold star if you know what film that line is from. 😉 But back to marketing: the ADHD folks have this one right: the smaller the step, the fewer reasons you have to not take that step. Reduce it down so far that it will only take one minute of your time or require so little brainpower that it would be silly not to do the little mini-task.

It’s science!

You see, likely the problem isn’t lack of desire or intent. Rather, it’s motivation and momentum. And that all comes down to your neurotransmitters—or lack thereof. I mean, what better way to be a stellar marketing procrastinator than to blame it on science?! And if you really want to get super thrilled about marketing, you can boost your dopamine before you sit down to figure out your “why.”

How? Lots of ways, of course, but my favs are: eating good protein, eating chocolate, chugging water, reading empowering quotes, the pure joy of helping my and pondering my “whys.”

And the more you learn about a subject, the more motivation you feel to keep going with it and the easier it becomes. For my part, usually one of my first steps is actually watching a 5-10 minute tutorial about whatever is making me procrastinate (usually I’m worried I won’t be able to do the task perfectly, and that

  1. annoys me that I’m a perfectionist
  2. and delays me diving in because I inherently know it can’t be perfect the first time around.

When it comes to the tasks in our lives that have the potential to make us feel foolish or inadequate or stressed, we often struggle with that single first step. If we can make it through that one, then we are far more likely to gain confidence that it won’t be as hard as we imagined or cost as much or take as much time.

And here’s the hardest truth

I’d be remiss if I didn’t squish this giant caveat in here. This is quite possibly a controversial take on this subject, but I’ll explain in just a moment.

If you aren’t currently able to devote consistent time weekly to marketing your products, services or business, then don’t market it.

If you ask me, consistency is more important than anything else (save perhaps sales analytics) in marketing and advertising.

When you consistently:

  • post on social media, the algorithms are more likely to start showing your posts to both followers and strangers.
  • release new content on your website, the google spider will be more likely to show your content on the first few pages of their search engine’s results list.
  • launch, monitor, and analyze ad campaign data, you’ll be able to figure out what ads to double down on and which ones to dump.
  • discover which content, product, or services your customers want more of.

In marketing, consistency is paramount.

In this scenario, what is my definition of “consistent”? It’s whatever time you can feasibly manage to create, post, monitor, and analyze on a consistent basis. That may be daily (LOL! Can anybody actually do that??), weekly, or monthly. If you’re not getting to this stuff at least every two weeks (or at least once a month for newsletters), I’d venture say you’re not being consistent enough. It’s a good rule of thumb in any case.

If you aren’t consistent yet, you could use bits and pieces of time each week to just start creating content or ad graphics or learning about marketing. This is the method I’ve been using because I’m doing a bazillion things at once right now. There isn’t enough time for it all. And the one thing I’m certain I can’t be consistent about right now is marketing. So I’m building up a repository of marketing STUFF at present. And I’m also thinking carefully on how to manage all of it effectively so nothing gets lost, and I’ve got a database system in place that allows me to analyze it from time to time.

In the past, I would get super stoked about marketing for awhile and then burn out when I’d start to run out of time to create new content. So then I’d give in to my inner marketing procrastinator, and things would just putter out. The main reason for my burnout was a major health issue that was affecting my ability to work. It took many years to sort that out, and I eventually learned I had to focus on me before I could turn my attention outward to help others.

Now I know what to do to get past that old, unhelpful behavior: stockpile cool content, then release it later on a consistent schedule—which will be at least once a week. Easier said than done, I know. Life can definitely get in the way of our best laid plans. But that’s why stockpiling is so useful. It can give you a head start and also help you keep up your posting schedule if work or personal tasks take precedence on any given week.

Go forth and market!

While this article is a good reminder on how to get past procrastination, we can’t forget about step 2 and 3 and… That’s where that to-do list and marketing plan (that you review once a week) come into play. So keep breaking down those overwhelming task mountains until they are nothing but ant hills that you can kick over with a pinkie toe. And be sure to put those little guys on your to-do list so you can hear that satisfying cha-ching in your end. After all, you’re one step away from the rest of your life.

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