I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Paul Atreides in Dune by Frank Herbert

We’re all afraid of something.


Spiders. Why I once watched [shudder] Arachnophobia continues to baffle me.

Many of us are also afraid of whatever is “new”– or we at least look at it warily — especially in business. “It’s always worked doing it this way. Why change? It might not work.”

Fear holds us back.

Paul was right, fear IS the mind-killer. It tells us everything that could go wrong so that we continue to seek shelter behind the cozy walls of the same old, same old because the same old, same old is safe and “works.”

Trying something new is scary.

Taking the leap into content marketing is scary.

It’s a different way of looking at your marketing efforts. You aren’t trying to cram your product down someone’s throat. You’re trying to help them.

For many business executives, this is an entirely new mindset.

Rather than buying radio spots, creating TV commercials, renting space on a billboard, cold calling, sending an email offer, etc.; you’re going to be focused on guiding your customers to your product/solution.

These “safe” efforts are visible.

  • You hear the radio ad driving to the next pitch meeting.
  • You see the commercial on the local news.
  • And you can track the number of cold calls your sales team makes.

Most companies don’t track the results, but, hey, you know you’re “doing something” and “getting something tangible” for your marketing dollar.


You’re also interrupting your customer’s day. Bonus: they’re probably ignoring you. Most of us see hundreds of ads daily — they’re white noise. Content marketing is designed to cut through that white noise.

But first, you have to overcome the fear of trying something new.

Fear of Failure

What if it doesn’t work?

I almost went with “failure” as the “F” word for this post because fear of failure is huge and real.

How many times have you whispered this to yourself — or raised a “point” in a business setting — to question a needed change?

There ain’t no such thing as a sure thing in life.  

You will fail when you try something new. You’ll make mistakes. You’ll do the wrong thing. That’s OK as long as you keep learning and getting better.

While there are no sure things when it comes to success, you will surely fail to move forward if you never try anything new.

What if no one reads the blog?

What if no one downloads the asset?

What if our marketing qualified and sales qualified lead scores are wrong?

What if we don’t get any new sales from the email campaign?

What’s my ROI going to be? Will my investment pay off over time? What if I’m just wasting my marketing dollars?

As one of my high school coaches used to say, “If ifs and buts were candied nuts my aunt would be my uncle.”

One, that always makes me a giggle a bit when I say it. Two, I’ve always taken it to mean that you can “if/then” any new course of action into nothingness if you want to. Three, it was years before I realized this was a play on Don Meredith’s “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas” saying.

Sometimes you’ll write a blog post that hardly anyone reads.

You’ll create assets that land with a resounding thud.

You probably will get your lead scores wrong (at first).

And you very well could guess wrong about email campaign.

On the other hand:

  • A great blog will bring in traffic and convert leads for years
  • An asset that your customers click with will move them along the sales pipeline and could even turn them into brand ambassadors
  • With constant feedback and adjustments (easy to do in a tool like HubSpot), you can shift your lead scores until they are accurate, leading to improved sales
  • The email campaign could be perfect and exceed your expectations

I came across this quote by Marie Curie as I was looking up the exact wording of the “fear is the mind-killer” quote:

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less.

Fear of Imperfection

I struggle with this myself. There’s the vision of what you want to accomplish and then where you currently are seems to be 1,000 miles away from that vision.

It can feel hopeless if you let it.

There’s a Zig Ziglar quote on a steel beam at the SoldierFit gym I go to:

You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.

With time and effort, you’ll be able to understand your customers and the impact your content marketing strategy has on them.

There might always be a little voice of fear saying “but you might fail” in the back of your mind.

Punch that mouthy bastard into submission and then get on with serving your customers with fantastic content marketing designed to meet their needs.

You’ll only really fail if you don’t try; don’t let fear be your content marketing killer.

Note: The Marie Curie quote does not apply to spiders. I understand that their webs are works of art and function and that spiders keep the insect population under control. Yet I will shriek like a banshee if one lands on me. And when the fear goes through me and I look back with my inner eye, still spiders.

Note 2: The “ifs” quote goes back to a centuries-old nursery rhyme, “If ifs and ands were pots and pans, there’d be no work for tinkers’ hands.”

About the Cheeky A-Z Guide to Content Marketing.

There are groaning shelves of books and whitepapers you can read about content and inbound marketing. What’s missing from (some) of them is the stuff between the cracks. The dirty, nuts and bolts examples of things that can go wrong and the random things that can go wonderfully well. I decided to run down the alphabet a letter at a time and highlight personal lessons learned from creating content for 25 years and from applying those content creation lessons to content marketing over the past decade-ish. I hope you enjoy.


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