Is Marketing “Too Hard”?

too-hardHere’s something I’ve heard from clients over and over:

“Marketing is Hard.” And then more specifically, “Getting my marketing message right is hard; writing my website content is hard; networking is hard; giving presentations is hard; selling is hard; and making follow-up calls is really hard.”

Apparently everything in marketing is hard and nothing is easy!

But before we talk about the hardness of marketing, let’s explore the concept hardness and it’s opposite, easiness. What is hard and what is easy?

We’ll take an objective look first. Let’s say that something we label “hard” has certain attributes. The degree of hardness seems to depend on the degree of Complexity (or the number of steps involved), the Duration (or how long it takes to learn or do something), and Effort (or the amount of energy that needs to be expended in doing something).

A great example is hiking in Yosemite, which I’ve done several times. 

The most popular hike is to Vernal Falls. It’s moderately steep and takes about 90 minutes to go up and down. So on our scale, it’s relatively easy. I’ve hiked this many times and so have tens of thousands of others.

Then if you want to hike some more you can continue the trail to Nevada falls. It’s considerably harder. The trip from the very bottom to the top takes from 4 to 5 hours. I’ve done this hike a few times. The crowds at the top are not as dense as at the top of Vernal Falls.

And if you’re really brave, you can stay on the same trail upwards and ascend to Half Dome. And the bottom to top round trip takes from 10 to 12 hours. I’ve never done this hike. Not many people make it all the way to the top.

So this is pretty easy to measure on an objective scale from easy, to harder, to hard.

Now, you can also see this in professions. Becoming a nurse is relatively easier than becoming a doctor. Becoming a paralegal is relatively easier than becoming a lawyer, and becoming a bookkeeper is relative easier than becoming an accountant.

OK, so if we measure Complexity, Duration and Effort we can come up with a more or less objective scale about how hard it is to achieve a certain level of professionalism.

Of course the same is true of marketing yourself.

It’s easier to talk to someone about your services than give a one-hour presentation. It’s easier to write an article than it is to write all your web content. And networking is generally easier than implementing a complete speaking plan.

Fair enough.

So this is how we objectively measure the degrees of easiness or hardness in an external project or task.

But what about subjective measurements?

A subjective measurement has nothing to do with objective measurement. Easiness or harness is a matter of personal, subjective experience.

So for instance, one person might find it very easy to develop the content for their website. But the same person may find it not only hard, but terrifying to make follow-up calls. And conversely, the person who finds it a breeze to make follow-up calls may freeze up when it comes to writing web content.

Objectivity goes out the door. It becomes meaningless. What is easy for us is easy for us, and what is hard for us is hard for us. Period.

But does objective measurement influence subjective experience? Of course. If everyone tells you that doing such and such a thing is hard because it is more complex, and takes more time and effort, we will naturally expect that thing to be hard. And our experience of it being hard may follow. But not always.

To summarize: Some things are objectively hard, but as far as we’re concerned it’s only our personal experience that tells us whether it’s easy or hard.

I remember years ago being encouraged by a friend to develop a website. And to do that I had to learn html. He told me, “You can do this, here’s a book you should read: ‘How to Design Your Website in a Week in HTML’.”

OK, so I bought the book read it and designed my first website in a week. I never really had the thought that it would be hard; I just knew I wanted to design a website, and believed the promise of the book and took action.

On the other hand, it took me five years of struggle to get to writing and completing my second book!

You’ve experienced similar things yourself. 

So what does objective easiness and hardness have to do with subjective easiness or hardness?

The answer is: Not a lot! Maybe nothing. 

It’s easy if we believe it’s easy and it’s hard if we believe it’s hard.  And if we mix up the objective measurement of easiness and hardness, with the the subjective measurement of easiness and hardness, we are going to be very confused.

End of story, but not quite. 

The question we should all have at this point is clear: “How do I shift my belief that something is hard to do, into a belief that it’s easy to do?” (After, all, we don’t have to worry if something is already easy for us).

How can I make writing feel easy to me? how can I make doing follow-up calls seem easy to me? how can I make presentations seem easy to me? etc.

When you’ve mastered this, you’ve accomplished a lot. 

Just think, if everything you wanted to do seemed easy to you, and as you did it, no matter how objectively hard it was (Complexity, Duration and Effort), you continued to do it and it never stopped feeling easy. Wouldn’t that transform your marketing, your business and your life pretty dramatically?

Think of it: Subjectively nothing would ever seem hard again!

So I’m not going to give you the answer here. I’ll continue this next week. But I’d like to hear from you. What would have to happen for everything to seem easy to you?

I mean easy, effortless, fun, fully engaged. How could you get into that place? Is it even possible? What have you already discovered? Have you found the total answer or a partial answer?

So please respond on the blog (not to me personally) and we’ll see what people are thinking about this. Remember, this is not an academic exercise. If everything seemed easy to you, imagine what you’d do that you’ve avoided doing all these years?

Heck, you might even climb Half-Dome!

By Robert Middleton of Action Plan Marketing. Please visit Robert’s web site at for additional marketing articles and resources on marketing for professional service businesses.