Optimism: The Silent Killer of Your Inbound Marketing Program

by Dustin J. Hall | MIN READ

optimism marketing programs killerOptimism is part of what makes us humans awesome, driving great deeds to be done and getting us through the hard times. Heck, it even helps us lead happier, more fulfilled lives.

How, then, could it be possible that optimism actually kill anything?

Unfortunately, it is entirely possible...especially in regards to the success of your inbound marketing efforts. Marketers, business owners, leadership execs -- we're all are guilty of being optimistic (to various degrees) and that's a great thing. But understanding how this optimism impacts our digital marketing initiatives, for better or worse, is very important when dictating how we manage these initiatives in the future...preferably with more success.

While the positive effects of optimism are easy to see on all fronts, the negative effects are often hidden from us: silent and disguised as something healthy rather than deadly.

Let's take a look at how optimism, in all its altruistic glory, can silently kill the success of any great marketing program.

marketing program optimism

Getting Off Base...WAY Off Base

When we're feeling overly optimistic, we tend to prematurely simplify our marketing outcomes and efforts. (tweet this)

Or, as Grant Cardone stated in his book The 10X Rule, "...[people] tend to embrace a sense of optimism that frequently causes them to grossly misjudge what it will take to complete their project."

All this to say that optimism can easily take us off base, way off base - causing us to unwittingly bypass important warning signs and occasionally ignore our due diligence altogether. In this way, optimism acts more as a blinding emotion than a state of mind.

This emotional perspective lends itself toward having a massive impact on our personal opinions as well. And, any great marketer or business strategist will quickly tell you that opinions are also killers of sound decision making.

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Abandoning Ship

Another way optimism can kill the success of your marketing programs is when it leads to premature abandonment of what could've been a truly awesome game plan.

Let's look at an example:

Your inbound marketing agency or in-house marketing team decide to create a brand awareness campaign designed to increase the number of relevant social media followers by 200% within 3 months. Alright, you've got a small native advertising budget and some pretty darn creative messaging that you think people will go nuts over. I mean, how could they not follow you with such genius copy and imagery?! (Herein begins the problem.)

You launch the campaign only to discover that your expectations are quickly shattered when only half of the numbers you expected show up in your reports. What the hell? "But this was genius stuff," you say!

Even though you're only in month one, your boisterous optimism has been muffled into a timid whisper and you decide to pull the plug before spending more money or investing more resources.

So, what the heck happened here?

Was it because you failed to adhere to best practices, or worse yet, people really didn't like your creative genius? Who knows?! Because rather than looking at the data, adjusting the budget if necessary and refocusing on what works, your optimism created emotions that got roughed up in the process -- ultimately causing you to change your mind instead of changing your course. Bummer.

Goals Shmoals

This is, quite possibly, the worst of the ways in which optimism stealthily kills a potentially successful marketing lowers your expectations, which directly causes you to lower your goals.

optimism marketing program excuses

Then the excuses come out to play...

  • "Oh, that goal was unrealistic anyway."
  • "We obviously underestimated the market here."
  • "Our buyers just aren't that interested in what we have to say/sell."

First of all, what a bunch of BS!

Unless you have empirical evidence to support your claims that the bar must be lowered (which is research that should've been done prior to starting the program), these are just cop-outs for not having the balls to prevail.

If we simply lowered our goals when things got tough, we'd only be as successful as our weakest efforts...which sucks. (tweet this)

The Answer is Not Pessimism or Cynicism, but Preparedness.

I could see how one might think I'm trying to instill a sense of pessimism with all this but that's definitely not what I'm getting at here. I, myself, am an incurable optimist to the core...but I've learned some hard lessons from that. The most important lesson is to be prepared.

Being prepared for bad or unexpected things to happen within your marketing program doesn't make you a pessimist by default -- it just makes you, well...prepared. Very rarely do bad things happen as often to those who are prepared. 

If you set proper expectations with yourself, your team or even your clients, you're also setting the stage for a more realistic outcome which may contain any number of variables for which you are prepared to address.

Truth is, some marketing programs are going to die. It's a fact.

But if your inbound marketing program is going to be killed by something, just make sure that something isn't you.

Originally published March 30, 2015. Updated February 22, 2017.