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fear and self doubtOnline advertising can be stressful on a good day. On a bad day, it can generate a lot of fear and self-doubt. Lets discuss how to be aware of the fear and self-doubt and get it under control so you can spend the extra energy on managing a successful online advertising campaign.

Imagine The Following Scenario: You are an owner of an Italian restaurant in Chicago. Actually, you just opened your third location and the financial pressure is immense, expectations from your silent partner are growing and your wife is wondering when you are going to start spending more time at home seeing your family.

In the past you have advertised and promoted your restaurants by mailing out coupons to the local neighborhood and some keyword focused search engine marketing (SEM) on Google. However, the local neighborhood committee is complaining that your coupons are littering the streets and the cost-per-click price on Google is so high you can no longer compete with the deep pockets of national restaurant chains.

What do you do? Alternative Online Advertising Opportunities.

There are many ways to advertise online in addition to search engine marketing (SEM) that will prove helpful for this particular situation. Display advertising offers a long list of powerful targeting solutions and strategies such as behaviorally targeting people that have a history of visiting food and receipe websites, retargeting people that have previously visited the Italian restaurant's website, advertising to mobile devices in a tight geo-location so that you reach people nearby that are potentially ready to eat or retarget people based on what they have previously searched for (search retargeting) if the keywords searched are of interest to your restaurant. Targeted display campaigns ensure strong customer engagement and drive sales. End of story.

The owner of this Italian restaurant may figure out what to do (with the help of ExactDrive of course) but is still constantly battling fear and self-doubt because the stakes of the game are so high and having these types of advertising campaigns live is a new experience.

How Do You Manage Fear And Self-Doubt?

I recently came across a fantastic book by Wyatt Webb entitled, "What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do: Common Horse Sense". This book offers a theory that the cause of our most difficult struggles stem from two main things: fear and self-doubt. The book continues along the belief that fear and self-doubt are two traits we are not born with but they are rather learned and since they are learned there's the potential for overcoming them through the process of unlearning and relearning. To help with the unlearning and relearning process the book outlines five core steps to follow:

  1. Acknowledge the Fear and Self-Doubt
  2. Quantify the Fear and Self-Doubt
  3. Imagine the Worst-Case Scenario
  4. Gather Information & Support, Confront the Perception & Dissipate the Fear
  5. Celebrate!

Now that we have the five steps to follow lets explore how these steps can help the owner of the Italian restaurant and see what kind of potential positive influences they can have on his current situation.

Step 1: Acknowledge the Fear and Self-Doubt

The owner of the Italian restaurant needs to acknowledge that he is afraid of the shift in his advertising strategy. The owner is going into new unfamiliar territory with a very important and delicate matter and it is very natural to feel afraid. The owner is also not very familiar with this new form of online advertising and as a result it is completely okay to feel uncertain and experience some self-doubt. Will this work? Is it the right thing to do? Which new strategy should I try first? Is this new advertising platform the right one for my company?

Step 2: Quantify the Fear and Self-Doubt

Now that the owner of the Italian restaurant has acknowledged that the feelings of fear and self-doubt exist it is time to rate (quantify) the fear on a scale from 1 - 10, with one 1 not being that big of a deal and 10 feels like imminent failure with no way out. For argument's sake, lets say this scenario is producing a 7 out of 10.

Step 3: Imagine the Worst-Case Scenario

In this step its time to go to the darkest and most negative possible outcome that you are afraid of happening. One can imagine such results could involve wasting your entire advertisement budget, being negatively judged by your partner to the point where he backs out, your wife leaves you because you are never home and all of your restaurants go bankrupt and out of business. Yeah, the worst-case scenario is not overly realistic but it can still fuel the fear and influence decisions made along the way.

Step 4: Gather Information & Support, Confront the Perception & Dissipate the Fear

Now that the owner realizes he is fearful of the change, has quantified how intense these feelings are and has run through the worst-case scenario it is time to do some research, reach out to those with more knowledge and get a handle on the situation. During his research he discovers that strategies that involve retargeting can be very successful and many of his competitors are already utilizing this advertising type. He reaches out to a friend that works at an advertising agency and has a great discussion about the benefits of personalized dynamic display ads and the return-on-investment they can help generate.

As the restaurant owner continues to gather information and reach out for support his level of fear and self-doubt begins to decrease. As his knowledge about these new types of online advertising strategies increase he realizes that his level of fear and self-doubt are actually very low and his confidence is increasing exponentially. He is able to think out of the box and have constructive and creative conversations with his advertising platform vendor. He is ready to move forward.

Step 5: Celebrate!

Celebrating is just as important as acknowledging your fear and self-doubt. Doing so will help close up the process and will allow you to take a moment and congratulate yourself for working through a tough experience. You could have given up, not faced nor analyzed your fear and self-doubt and walked away from a fantastic way to advertise your company online, gain additional brand exposure and capture the attention of new customers.


As luck would have it, as I exited the airplane after landing at LAX in Los Angeles I happened to run into Wyatt Webb and was able to share a picture together. It was a pleasure seeing him.


Topics: Online Advertising, retargeting, Advertising

Tim Nichols

Written by Tim Nichols

Tim Nichols is a founding partner at ExactDrive, a digital media buying agency with white label, reseller and managed service options available. ExactDrive plans, manages, and optimizes online advertising campaigns with the objective of delivering measurable value and empowering clients to find precisely targeted audiences. ExactDrive has offices in Minneapolis, MN, Milwaukee, WI and SouthWest Florida.

Tim Nichols is also a contributing author on Forbes.com.

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