I had to hammer this post out because it’s been on my mind for awhile.
What prompted me to write this is because I’m seeing more and more business people complain about how most marketing is either boring or totally underperforms.
And I posit that underperforming marketing is mainly due to psychological comfort.
I hate to say it, but the reality is that a lot of marketers & salespeople have gotten comfortable with their jobs, so they lose their edge.
Especially in my world of B2B & technology companies. The products that are good are really damn good and attract large user bases and healthy venture-funding.
This attracts a lot of smart, analytical people.
Over time companies mature, salaries go up, job security sets in (I know layoffs are definitely a thing, but still).
And in more ways than 10, these are good things.
Buuuuuuuuuuuuut here’s what gets lost…
The Psychological Edge.
The state of emergency.
The “get this done like our business and livelihoods depend on it” mentality.
The best example I can pull from my own experience is being a freelancer.
If you don’t market well you don’t pay your bills.
If you don’t sell well you don’t pay your bills.
The opportunity cost is always right underneath you, biting at your ankles.
Of course, things aren’t so “dire need” anymore like they were when I first got started. It’s why we save, invest, build safety nets, and plan for the future.
In the early early days, it wasn’t as easy to get clients as it is now.
It took pure sweat because I had nothing to leverage.
No referral network. No social media following. No portfolio, case studies or website.
Just an idea for a writing niche and a drive to learn how to be a great copywriter.
It was a lot of me hunched over at my monitor most nights staying up late reading and taking copywriting courses.
I’d wake up at 5am to do client work, spend the afternoons creating content to land more client work, then spend the evenings learning about how to do the actual client work better.
My level of focus was of the laser vision sort.
Any small conversion lift or client win was enough to keep me excited and progressing.
I was accepting most projects that came my way. For years, it was constant experimenting and creative testing. I’d say I made more progress on my career in the first year of freelancing than any job or educational experience I’ve ever had.
And I’ll be honest, I’m currently in a place where I feel intuitively like I need to be more uncomfortable on purpose.
I spent the whole past summer backpacking around Europe, really scaling back my hours, and enjoying life outside of work for what felt like the first time in awhile.
But now I’m diving back into work with a renewed vengeance and an incentive to stretch muscles in my brain that I haven’t stretched before.
I want to intentionally go back into that zero-safety-net zone where the best ideas are born.
The lesson basically is, when you’re in a state of emergency about your business, about your craft, about your career, the realm of creative possibilities opens up in ways you never knew existed.
Every day, I see young copywriters and young marketers who quite frankly are amateurs (for now), but they’re steadily refining their skills because I can tell how hungry they are.
They’re the ones staying up late and waking up early. They’re the ones with the fire in the belly. They’re the ones that are rapidly testing and experimenting new things because they’re in a state of emergency to learn what works and what doesn’t.
When you’re in a comfortable position where you’re getting paid well with lots of security and your campaigns are performing enough to keep the business growing, then good for you, you’ve done great work a deserve to partake in the spoils.
But maybe let this post be a friendly warning about how dangerous it can be to lose your edge…
This is marketing, it’s not life and death.
But I do strongly believe that the best marketing, creativity, and writing all stem from being psychologically uncomfortable.
Because in the dirty marketing universe, comfort and complacency are the killer of results.