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When I was a kid on Long Island (pronounced “Lon GUY-land”), I was one of those boys that was fraidy-scared a lot. Afraid of the bigger kids. Afraid of everyone realizing how unathletic I was. (OK, OK, of how unathletic I am.) So, I can sense fear when I see it, and I am seeing a lot of fraidy-scared marketers lately. They knew how to do their jobs in the old days but they don’t know what this Internet thing is all about. If you’re reading this post, you’re unlikely to be one of those fraidy-scared folks, but you might work with or (horrors) for someone filled with fear. What do you do?
The boss might be afraid of spending money on a Web site. Or scared of handing over the company credit card for paid search. Or petrifiied of the risk of letting employees blog or tweet. How do you work with someone like that? You know what to do, but they are stopping you.
It might sound cynical, but sometimes the best thing to do is to fight fear with fear. When you are dealing with someone who is fear-based, you might need to scare them more about what happens if they ignore your advice. If our competitors all have Web sites and we don’t. If our customers are searching for us and we are not there. If our clients want to get to know us and we are hiding. If we are not out there on the Web where our customers are (at least some of them), they won’t come find us. They’ll just work with someone else who is out there with them.
If your boss is fraidy-scared, you might need to scare him more. And then reduce the worry about what you are advising so it seems less scary than sitting still. Explain how we can do a quick Web site for very little money. Discuss how we can set limits on search spending to stay within the budget. Promise him that we’ll train a few employees in social media so that they won’t screw it up. And only after these experiments start to pay off will we really commit to them.
It’s pointless to tell people who are afraid that there’s nothing to worry about. Instead, persuade them by showing them standing still isn’t as safe as they assume.
About Mike Moran
Mike Moran has a unique blend of marketing and technology skills that he applies to raise return on investment for large marketing programs. Mike is a former IBM Distinguished Engineer and the Senior Strategist at Converseon, a leading social consultancy. Mike is the author of two books on digital marketing, an instructor at several leading universities, as well as a Senior Fellow at the Society of New Communications Research.