It happens all the time. You have what you think is a “marketing problem.”
You have a disappointing product launch. You have issues consistently selling your services. A program that used to sell well stopped.
There are a lot of reasons why this could be happening, and in most (if not all) of the cases, the issue comes down to what looks like a marketing problem.
But, what if the marketing problem was a symptom, and not the cause?
What if the cause was something deeper … what if it had more to do with WHAT you’re selling?
And it’s really a form of sabotage?
And, the reason why it’s sabotage is because you have misgivings about the product or service or program you’re offering.
Before I dig into all the ways you can sabotage yourself, let’s explore all the ways you may be less than thrilled with your products, programs, or services.
• You don’t particularly like the product, service, or program you’re selling.
There’s a lot of ways this can manifest itself.
Maybe you became a coach only to realize you don’t like coaching, but now you have all these clients, and you’ve got money coming in—money your family is dependent on—so what can you do?
Or, maybe you love some types of coaching but not others. I see this a lot in the industry I’m in. There are many folks who want to be life coaches or spiritual coaches, but they struggle to make money, so they become a business coach instead.
Over time, many of these spiritual or life coaches come to detest business coaching.
I’ve highlighted some of these stories in my Love-Based Money podcast—Barb, Anastasia, Sierra—all these women built up very successful coaching businesses only to tear it all down when they woke up one day and finally had to admit to themselves how much they hated what they built.
• You know this particular product, program, or service isn’t your best work.
Maybe you threw it together because you saw an opportunity and wanted to act fast, and the finished product ended up being on the sloppy side. Or maybe you discovered errors in it after the fact. Or maybe when you created it, it was a solid, well-put-together product, but now it’s out-of-date and really needs an upgrade. Or maybe the content is fine, but it has technical issues (bad video, bad audio, typos, etc.)
Regardless of how it happened, you know it’s not as good as you’d like it to be, and every time someone buys, you find yourself cringing inside.
• You don’t particularly like the clients, customers, or buyers you’re attracting.
If you’re selling a product where you have absolutely no contact with your buyers, this is less of an issue, but if the product or service includes any type of interaction, this is clearly an issue.
Think about it—if you dislike talking to your customers and clients, you’re probably going to dread getting on the phone with them or meeting them in person, or maybe even answering their emails.
How can you possibly get excited about marketing something that is going to require you to interact with people you don’t like? Even if you are making good money, eventually there will come a time when the money no longer matters, and all you want is out.
• You’ve outgrown your product, program, or service.
Businesses are living entities. Over time, they grow, change, evolve, and even die.
As your business changes, so do your offerings.
Maybe a product or program or service that used to be a good fit isn’t anymore. Maybe it’s not in alignment with who you are or the message you want to get out into the world in a bigger way. Or maybe the graphics or branding around the product, program,or service needs an upgrade.
If you no longer feel what you’re offering is a good match for where you are now, it’s going to be difficult for you to promote it.
• You’re lacking the team, support, system, backend, etc. to create excellent customer service.
You may love coaching and your clients, but you have no system in place to onboard new clients. Your “welcome packet” (if you can call it that) is a mess, and it’s a crapshoot if you’re able to get your new clients scheduled in a timely manner.
Or maybe you have an online learning platform that doesn’t work very well, so you know every time you get a new student, you’re going to also get customer service emails full of questions and problems.
Or maybe you have no systems created around taking care of new clients and customers, or maybe you don’t have the right team members in place to take care of your clients and customers. Or, maybe you have a fabulous team, but they’re tapped out. They can’t handle any more clients or customers, so you’re not able to grow.
How can you market yourself when you no every new customer, client or buyer is going to add stress to your life?
• You’re secretly afraid your product, service, or program isn’t any good.
There are a lot of ways this can manifest itself: You don’t value yourself or what your offering, you’re afraid you’ll fail and let down your clients, you feel like you’re a fraud, you feel like you need to read “one more book” or get “one more certification” before you’re an expert.
If you feel like you’re selling snake oil, and the last thing you want is to be a snake oil salesperson, it’s going to be very difficult to consistently and effectively market or promote or sell your offerings.
So, those are some of the top ways you may be less than thrilled with your product, program, or service. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully it gives you some ideas on the questions to ask yourself around the product or program or service that just isn’t selling as well as you’d like.
Because if any of these are true (even if it’s just a little true), there’s likely a part of you that really doesn’t want any customers or clients to buy it. (Hence, why, on the surface, this would look like a “marketing problem” even though underneath what’s really happening is a form of sabotage.)
Think about it: If you don’t like what you’re selling, you’re not going to want to sell it.
If you don’t like your customers, you’re not going to want to spend time with them.
If you think your product or program or service is outdated or not very good, you may be embarrassed to have people buy it.
If you’re lacking the backend or customer support, you may know new clients and customers are just going to turn into massive headaches for you, and who needs that?
And, if you have any sort of feelings of fraud or not being good enough, how on earth could you in good faith take other people’s money for something you’re secretly afraid is crap?
Now, it’s entirely possible (and certainly does happen) that you can feel this and still push through to make a lot of money at whatever it is your selling. (My Love-Based Money podcast guests are a great example of forcing themselves to grow a business they weren’t in alignment with.)
But, for many entrepreneurs, even if they are able to make money in the short term with the product or service, they can’t sustain it. So, they end up in a financial rollercoaster.
You see, if you’re going to “force” yourself to market or sell something that you either don’t like or are ashamed of at some level, that means you’re going to need to use a lot of willpower to keep you going.
And, willpower will only take you so far.
So, then, what happens?
That’s when the sabotage kicks in.
Well, maybe you cut back on the number of emails you send in a launch, despite knowing (or being told) not to do that.
Maybe you deflate at the end of a sales call (and end up never making the sale).
Maybe you bomb any opportunity you get to be in front of your ideal clients (talks go wrong, weird tech issues show up on webinars, etc.).
Or maybe you and your marketing just slowly disappear. Maybe you stop hanging out on Facebook, even though you know it’s a great source of prospects for you. Maybe you stop posting regularly to your blog, or you don’t record your podcast consistently. Maybe you “take a break” from emailing your subscribers.
What do all of these have in common? On the surface they look like a marketing problem. (And, don’t get me wrong, they ARE a marketing problem.) But, what’s really going on is sabotage–you’re taking unconscious actions or making unconscious decisions to hurt your marketing.
You may not be aware of what you’re doing, or maybe you have some really good excuses for not doing the things you know you should. (And, truly, it’s not your fault if this is happening to you as this typically shows up as a big blindspot.)
But, regardless, the outcome is the same. Your sales aren’t great, and a part of you (which may be buried really deep inside) is glad.
And, this cycle of continuing to sabotage yourself while having it look like a marketing problem, will continue.
If any of this resonates with you, and you feel like you may need to go deeper, you may want to check out my “Love-Based Money and Mindset” book.