The Truth About Personal Branding
I.C. Jackson

Marketing Anxiety: Why Selling Makes You Feel Like You’re In High School

Is this what you feel like when it’s time to sell yourself?

How easy is it for you to sell yourself and your business?

I’d bet for most of you reading this, it’s pretty hard. I know, We all humblebrag on social media about how awesome our lives and businesses are, but in reality we are struggling. As a matter of fact, the only way we know how to express our business pursuits is through the humblebrag -

You know, when you use an air of ‘thankfulness’ to share your latest success (be it an award or a bomb selfie) with all your followers so they will know that you truly are remarkable and worthy of validation.

You see, we’re all just somewhere seeking validation.

That’s why marketing makes most people nervous. It can feel like debate class, where you have to stand up in front of everyone and plead a case you don’t completely believe in but you have to because it’s for a grade.

Or Fridays walking down the senior hallway, pretending not to be jealous of the cool kids and doing your best to look and sound cool in spite of secretly feeling awkward and out of place.

So, when it’s time to stand up and tell the world what we do and why they should patronize or refer our business, we, lacking the validation that fuels success, say the safest, least risky thing we can while still trying our best to stand out from the crowd. We get gimmicky. We try elitism. We bend like pretzels, looking to portray the image we think our customers want to see.

We do everything except successfully connect with our target market and just give them what they need.

And who ends up getting all the sales and the glory? The gurus, the big dogs — the cool kids.

The cool kids stick it to you once again!

But it’s time for you to stop blaming the cool kids for your lack of coolness.

The cool kids didn’t show up at your door, demanding you be less cool so they could shine. They did not conspire against you in a covert operation to steal all your opportunity and horde it for themselves. You see, the cool kids aren’t even thinking about you. They are just out in the world, enjoying being awesome and sharing the stories of their adventures in awesomeness.

And it just makes the rest of us sick…until we realize that their confidence and magnetism isn’t outside of our reach. All we have to do is the same thing.

Know who you are and then tell stories about your adventures in being who you are. Those stories convert hearers to followers based on what the ideas mean to the hearers’ sense of self-worth. That’s what the cool kids did back then, and that’s what they’re doing now -

They’re simply inviting you to experience the world as they see it, and you admire them for opening those doors in your imagination. By stimulating your imagination and sense of adventure, they validate you in a way that makes you want to assimilate to the images in the stories they tell. They make you want to do what they do so you can feel the way they feel.

They make you want to go out and do whatever it takes to be cool, too.

The followers, the yes men in high school — they did just that. They bought the clothes, learned the lingo, and followed the leaders. They used their resources to share the experiences of the cool leaders so that they would be accepted into the inner circles. And it worked!

But that was a much simpler time…

Your shallow attempts at pretending to be a cool kid in the world of business isn’t working because it doesn’t work. We’re grown ups now…mostly. And in order to gather a following of loyal customers, you will have to actually BE cool.

Or be a nerd on the outskirts, wishing you could get a taste of the good life.

It’s your decision.

Don’t be a geek — Follow me here on Medium for more adventures in exploring the hallways of digital marketing.

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