For most of its history, marketing has been dismissed as a "fluffy" business responsible for feel-good campaigns, cluttering your inbox, and...the Kardashian brand.

Marketing is not rocket science. Yet, there is something about marketing that makes smart people feel stupid.

I've watched marketing successfully intimidate the most confident and educated clients. Those same clients go on to make marketing decisions that cost them and their companies hundreds of thousands of dollars. All because they were afraid to admit they were confused about what marketing is and how marketing works.

Here are the three reasons why marketing is intimidating, even though, it shouldn't be:

Reason #1: You don't know what you don't know.

Most people who hire marketers are experts in something else.

Maybe you're CEO of a nonprofit or the founder of a paleo catering company--whatever you are, you're an expert in that area and not marketing.

Anytime you start from scratch, it feels intimidating. And to save face, you pretend.

It's embarrassing to admit you don't understand something that you feel like you "should know." I feel this way with lawyers. I'm educated and smart and I feel like I should understand them when they speak, but deep down, I'm thinking, "I have no idea what any of those words mean."

There is no reason you should understand marketing--you're an expert in something else.

Actionable Takeaway: Accept that even though you're an expert in your field, you're a beginner at marketing and start to get yourself educated on the basics.

Reason #2: Most marketers don't know how marketing works.

Most marketers don't know that marketing works as a system. They manage parts of that system, like SEO or branding or PR, but not the entire system.

It's a marketer's job to convince you that their specific part of the system will be the silver bullet you need to get "a steady stream of clients." They will dazzle you with buzzwords and insider jargon to convince you they're the right people to handle your business.

They might be--but they've also designed the interaction to feel overwhelming and confusing as a sales tactic. The more complex they make it seem, the more you're willing to pay to solve the problem.

If you leave a meeting with marketers feeling more confused than confident, that is by design.

The most successful business owners are the ones who aren't afraid to admit they don't understand something. When you push back, you should uncover the answers you need to determine whether the approach you're being sold is the correct one for your business.

Actionable Takeaway: Ask dumb questions. As often as possible. Until you understand.

Reason #3: It feels weird and spammy.

Most people believe that marketing is about "getting the word out."

This creates what I call the "Overly Chipper Effect": the tendency to be EXTREMELY EXCITED about the thing you're selling, to the degree that it comes off as fake or "overly chipper."

You see it when businesses use faux enthusiasm, overuse exclamation points, and USE LOTS OF CAPS!!!!!

It feels icky because you're doing it wrong.

In reality, marketing is not about "getting the word out there"--in fact, that's the quickest way to lose your customer's trust and attention.

Marketing is about translating what you have to offer into why anyone should care.

Your prospects have a problem you can solve. Your marketing's job is to reflect that in a way that resonates authentically with your target customer.

If you do it right, your customer will feel grateful not irritated.

Actionable Takeaway: Talk to people like people. You don't have to be overly chipper or fake excited--you have to be sincere.

In the end, marketing is like any subject--it takes time to learn. The farther along you are in your business, the more intimidating it becomes to admit you don't know the basics (like the difference between marketing, branding, and advertising). The good news about marketing is that it's never too late to learn.

Published on: Jul 25, 2017