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What if your boss is fraidy-scared of Internet marketing?

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?

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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.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website,, most recently as the Manager of Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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  1. Avatar Tom "Carpal" Nicholson

    Once i was one of those who are fraidy-scared of risking my money on web advertisement or internet marketing. But then, really fear of doing nothing is far more worst than risking what i have. And now that I risked doing internet marketing, i know it’s really worth it.

  2. Avatar PowerPoint Templates

    If you can get him to agree some testing the results themselves will speak volumes, and make you look brilliant! 😉

  3. Avatar Christine

    “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.” – its not cynical at all. This is why all the great marketers tell their prospects in they web copy the consequences of NOT taking action and moving on the offer. This is because it has shown that people are more willing to act more on fear of loss than fear of gain. This is a reality that many people take to the bank. Great Post…

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