Thursday, April 4, 2013

Is Your Optimism Sabotaging Your Online Success?

Blazing FlowerMany business owners are optimistic, and that's usually a good thing. There's a lot of evidence to show that optimists tend to be healthier, happier, and have better relationships than pessimists. But it isn't all good news! There are also some things that optimists don't do as well as pessimists, and they can be holding you back from achieving your goals. This applies in many areas of life, but is very common with Internet marketing, which usually takes more time and effort than most people expect.

Here are five common mistakes that optimistic business owners make with their Internet marketing strategy, and how to overcome them.

Mistake #1: Setting expectations too high

There's nothing wrong with dreaming big dreams and setting "stretch" goals, but if your expectations are unrealistic, it's easy to become disappointed quickly.

For example, you might start publishing a blog or e-mail newsletter, and expect it to bring you a lot of incoming traffic, and a lot of profitable incoming traffic as well. Unfortunately, this rarely happens you're very lucky. Building a following online takes time and persistence. If you expect too much too soon, you'll be disappointed - and there's a risk of giving up too soon as well.

So don't expect too much too soon. When you start, focus on the process, not the outcome; and measure your success by the quality of your material and the consistency of your publishing it.

Mistake #2: Expecting it to be too easy

This is related to the previous point, but it refers to the process rather than the outcome. Overly optimistic people under-estimate the amount of time, effort, focus and money involved in doing tasks. In other words, they expect things to be easier than they really are, which can lead to disappointment, frustration and stress when the rubber hits the road.

For example, you "know" creating video is easy, because millions of amateurs upload video to YouTube every day. But when you come to record your own videos, you might be surprised at how long it takes to get it just right.

With many online tasks, the only real way to know what's involved in a task is to actually do it. So to overcome this problem, get started as soon as possible, and then use that experience when making future estimates. In other words, don't estimate how long it will take to record 20 videos. Record one video instead, and then estimate how long it will take to do the other 19.

Mistake #3: Overlooking potential problems along the way

Overly optimistic people also don't think about problems and obstacles along the journey, so they don't have contingency plans, alternatives and backup strategies in place.

For example, you might delegate your social media management to a smart, savvy, Gen Y staff member in your organization, but what if she leaves one day - and leaves you in the lurch? If you don't have some backup plan in place, this can bring your entire online strategy to a grinding halt.

The solution to this problem is easy: Create contingency plans. You don't have to cover every possible thing that could go wrong, but at least consider the most obvious possibilities. You will usually find it doesn't take much to be able to recover from small bumps along the way - as long as you have considered them in advance.

Mistake #4: Failing to learn from failure

Most people who go on a gambling trip to Las Vegas will lose money. But the optimists who return to Las Vegas are likely to lose more money than the pessimists. That's because the optimists brush aside their losses from the first trip (for example, "Oh, well, at least I didn't lose that much") rather than learning from their mistakes.

This happens with online marketing as well. I've seen many people try something online, discover it isn't working, and then give up with a shrug of their shoulders, happy that it didn't cost much time and money. That might be true, but they often never find out why it didn't work, and will probably make the same mistake with the next thing they try. This is especially true with many online marketing techniques, because they really don't cost much to get started, so it is easy to shrug them off if they don't work, rather than investing time and effort in making them work.

Mistake #5: Not putting a safety net in place

Overly optimistic people jump into a new venture head first, cutting all ties with the past and assuming they will never have to take a step back. Now, there's certainly something to be said for creating this sort of forced commitment, but it isn't always appropriate, and it's sometimes very risky.

For example, when Facebook first launched its "Pages" service, which allowed organizations to create their own presence on Facebook, some business owners (foolishly) decided to close down their Web site and e-mail newsletter, and turned their full attention to their Facebook page. But that wasn't a smart choice, because they no longer owned their online properties, and were subject to Facebook's whims.

Be a realistic optimist!

Have you made any of these five mistakes? If so, at least realise you're not alone!

This doesn't mean you shouldn't be optimistic - far from it. The secret is not to be overly optimistic. Be optimistic, but be a realistic optimist.

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