Turn Off The Auto Pilot

Is your brand on autopilot?

F E A R.

What do you fear about your 2013 marketing efforts? Are you stuck on auto pilot? 

Fear can freeze you from acting. It can stop you from moving forward. It can isolate you from taking a step forward.

Marketing professionals face all types of fears in their professional work. They are paralyzed as they wonder if it is worth the risk to try something new and different?

Should we launch a new product since 8 of 10 new products fail?

Is it wise to do a joint promotion with a brand with a similar audience? 

Does it make sense to pull our product from our current distributor and go with a new guy in town?

Will our new virtual store interfere with our brick and mortar business and drain sales? 

Should we try a new approach to meet and engage clients that has never been tried before? 

Failure is doing the same thing 
Every day marketing professionals stick out their neck and take a chance. It is a core part of the job because doing the same thing in a changing market is a recipe for failure. Markets change. Competition steps into your world. Perceptions grow or diminish for brands. We operate in a fluid marketplace and being static is a great path to fail.

Think of how a river flows. That is the best metaphor for your marketplace. It is constantly moving and changing. Are you in a boat navigating the flow or are you standing in the middle of the river treading water?

What can you do to help calm the fear and gain confidence in your approach?

No action is a conscious decision
My favorite ways to manage marketing fears is to recognize that doing the same thing can be worse than trying something new and different. Products and business have a natural life cycle that may last a few weeks, months or years. But ultimately, some new force interferes with the current state. It changes the pressure, the leverage and creates a new force.

Here is a simple exercise to help you face your marketing fears.

Auto Pilot

Pretend you are sitting in a boat on a river. The engine is off.  You aren’t putting more fuel into the motor and you are just drifting with the flow of the water.

While on the boat, just imagine you do nothing new in your business for 12 months. No new products, no new distribution. You don't hire any new employees. You don't conduct any new promotions. No new excitement. You are forced to sit with your hands tied behind your back while your business operates on autopilot and you get pushed along by the other boats floating past you.

After 12 months, you notice that you are no longer keeping up with the category that is growing. Boats are passing you by and you are drifting aimlessly. You notice that you have lost shelf space or facings for your products. You find a competitor gaining more press in the local papers or in the trade magazines. You notice a competitor is gaining more market awareness as you listen to more conversation in social media and no one is talking about you. Your competitor is often hiring new employees and sponsoring lots of events. Everyone else is moving forward and you are adrift. 

Turning off the autopilot
Now a year is up and you turn of the auto pilot switch and take control of the steering wheel. You immediately launch that new product that you have hesitated to sell, you hire a new PR firm to help you get your message in front of your target, you initiate a new email campaign to offer products samples directly to the clients who you have struggled to reach. In other words, you act. You take charge. You start guiding your ship (company/brand) toward your chosen destination.

I fear being on auto pilot more than I fear failure. 

If I try something new to grow or expand, I expect a bumpy ride. But the downside of sitting on the sideline and not acting can only lead me floating aimlessly. I prefer to be steering. 

Face your fear. Turn off the auto pilot. Experiment with new products, promotions or tactics. Try something new and different that is harmonious with your strategy. Slowly you will find the fear disappearing as you take control of your own destiny. Marketing is fuel for your brand. 

Go ahead. Stick a new oar in the river. 

About Me:

I am a marketing professional with over 30 years of experience creating success. If you enjoy these blog posts, please sign up to receive them in your email or share them with other marketing friends who might be interested in these topics. Sign up with your email at the top of my blog

You can comment on this blog, send an email to me at JeffreyLynnSlater@gmail.com or as the Car Talk guys on NPR  like to say, write your question on the back of a $20 bill and mail it to me. Thanks for traveling along with me on this journey. 

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