Suddenly Marketing

Brand Messaging | Content Strategy | Writing

Marketing fear: It’s all been done before. Get over it.

Sometimes ... the world feels so big and I feel so small. - Ian Barbour

All the good ideas are taken.

There are already so many other people doing what I want to do.

So-and-so and so-and-so are so amazing at this …

How can I catch up? How can I stand out? How can I compete? Why should I bother?

Maybe I should just call the whole thing off and become a tollbooth operator.*

If you have an entrepreneurial bone in your body, you’ve had this conversation with yourself. You may have even talked yourself out of launching your idea into the world. I’m not judging. I’m right there with you. As grateful as I am for the business I’ve built with Suddenly Marketing, it’s not the business of my dreams. (Yet) I’ve been holding back because the good little marketer in me has been doing way too much market research and I’ve let the competition intimidate me and confuse my internal compass.

But I’ve decided to get over it and get on with it, and I want you to do the same.

Caving in to the its-all-been-done-before argument is about giving in to your doubts and fears, but what – exactly – are those doubts and fears? Maybe it’s just me, but I’d guess that the voice in your head has carried on something like this …


Fear of anonymity

What if no one notices me? The Internet is a big pond with a lot of fish. The minute I put myself out there, I’m vulnerable. My dream will be out there. Everyone will know what I want to be, but maybe no one will “get” me. Maybe no one will “Like” my Facebook page or comment on my blog. I’ll probably end up living life as a digital outcast, watching the movers and shakers make waves and spark movements. Maybe I’d be better off to spare myself the pain of invisibility.


Fear of competition

There are so many people already doing such a good job at this thing I want to do. They’ve been at it longer. They have big audiences. They have testimonials. How the hell can I expect to compete with these people? I don’t like confrontation anyway. What if someone asks me why I’m better than so-and-so? I don’t have an answer for that. I remember what it felt like being the last one picked for kickball. I did not dig that. If I don’t compete, I won’t have to lose. I won’t have to look stupid or admit that I don’t measure up. Yeah, that sounds like a good plan.


Fear that there’s not enough to go around

Speaking of competition, it’s tough out there. There isn’t an endless supply of customers. I’m sure the people who are already rock stars have cornered the market. There’s no way I’m going to be able to hone in on their turf. They have home field advantage. They are the incumbents. They also have these amazing A-lister networks that are constantly churning up and referring new business. Everyone who might become a customer of mine probably already buys from these other guys. I’m too late to the game.


Whether you’re an artist, a software developer, a butcher, a baker, or a wing-ding maker these fears can plague you.  They can slowly and subtly sap your courage, conviction, and confidence until the only “logical” thing to do is give up.


There is always room for one more. There is a way to compete. People will notice you. 

What if Steve Jobs had thought the smartphone market was too crowded? What if the people behind Starbucks had decided the world already had too many coffee shops?  What if JK Rowling had believed there were enough fantasy series on the bookshelves?


You have an idea or a product or a service or a story to share. There might be hundreds or thousands of other people offering a similar thing, but it’s not exactly your thing. There’s something that sets you apart. You are the only one who can deliver “The Thing” exactly the way you do. And, guess what? There are people out there who want The Thing exactly the way you do it.

Your job is to connect with those people. You do that by weaving together your philosophy, values, personality, story, approach, and process to create a unique “brand experience” that sets you apart from the competition, elevates you above typical comparisons, and gives you the confidence to pole vault right past your doubts and fears and into the business of your dreams.

… and I’ll tell you more about exactly how to do that in my next post.

Meanwhile, I’d love to hear from you. Have you experienced these fears? Have they held you back? What do you do to push past them? Do you have other fears that keep you up at night?


* Nothing personal against tollbooth operators.



Image Credit: Ian Barbour


Be human. Your customers will thank you.


How to create strong branding that kicks your fear to the curb so you can soar


  1. Jamie,
    I went through all this when I fired up my business, there is a lot of competition in what I do, there are national vendors with deep pockets and long arms, how will I survive? it took me an entire lifetime to just get over it and do it, 12 years later I am still here.
    Then it happened again with my writing and I had to get over it and do it, you know my story so I wont bore you.
    I look forward to your next post :)

    • Jamie Lee

      You never bore my, Jim. You ought to be a poster child for getting over it and getting on with it. :)

  2. Dearest Jamie,

    This message is so profound that I actually relate it to a truth much bigger than marketing: LIFE.

    We are the ones who put the titanium brakes on, and inhibit the flow of life from moving through us, and by doing so avoid sharing our gifts with others. I was completely stuck in this mode for at least 10 years, from the time I wrote a book till I decided I really did have something valuable to share with others.

    As you already know, the death of my dad accelerated the process of waiting, faster than anything else could have. I guess this was because postponing became equivalent to dying therefore I had no option but to start doing something that is completely 100% aligned with my deepest truth and my heart. But it’s really a work in progress because there’s always more I can share, more I can be and more I can risk.

    It would be so easy for me to think about all the people around me who are sharing a similar message but with tens of millions of people around the world. So to think that I can make an impact when others much more influential than I am already do might seem pretentious. And yet, my heart tells me in no uncertain terms that my unique vision, heart, way of relating to others separates me from the rest not because I’m so great but because there is no one exactly like me just like there is no one exactly like you or anyone reading this.

    So everyday prior to sharing my message, prior to asking people who have shared their messages with audiences FAR larger than mine, to be in my show, I connect with that knowing that this has a purpose far bigger than myself and that ultimately the most important reason why I’m doing it is to serve humanity.

    When you come down to that fundamental desire (serving humanity) I believe that doors will open where walls existed.

    Thank you so much for sharing this from your heart and for allowing me to think about this experience. By consciously bringing it to my attention I can go even deeper in my desire to create my reality.

    Love to you,


    • Jamie Lee

      Bernardo –
      As always, you bring something “more” to the conversation:
      “… I connect with that knowing that this has a purpose far bigger than myself and that ultimately the most important reason why I’m doing it is to serve humanity.”

      You’ve got my wheels spinning around the juxtaposition of inward focus (of being fully yourself) and outward focus (seeing your unique approach as part of a bigger picture) – and add the cherry on top of everything being done in service … wow! That’s one hell of a life sundae! 😉

      There is something here that I’m not quite articulating, but it has to do with the way our unique personality and heart drive our purpose and how our purpose is also driven by something outside of us – something we connect with on a deep spiritual and maybe even molecular level. I’m loving this push/pull; inside/outside theme.

      Thank you for the spark and for coming by and sharing your always insightful thoughts.


  3. Jamie,

    There’s such a profound truth to your message in this post. We have an opportunity today to share our unique gifts with the world in a way that we’ve never been able to at anytime in history. It’s tragic to hide who were and what we really want. As I said in my post today, we need to stop apologizing for our crazy wild eyed dreams. They matter. They allow us to fulfill a purpose greater than ourselves.

    I’ve confronted every single fear you’ve mentioned and I think back to a phrase that runs through my head constantly. You need millions of people to follow you or join your tribe. You just need the ones who give a damn. One of them is worth a million people who are apathetic.

    • Jamie Lee

      Thank you, Srinivas. That’s an especially nice comment coming from you.

      Just back from reading your post on Skool of Life today – loved it (of course).

      Your comment also reminded me of the fabulous post you did on Mark’s blog about the evolution of a blogger. ( ) I loved the way you defined the stages bloggers go through to find their own voice and courage. It takes time, experimentation, and a building up of conviction; but it’s SO worth it to ride those waves of fear and doubt and uncertainty to get to a place where you can stand firm and see the world of possibilities open up in front of you.

      If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is.

  4. Hi Jamie,

    I remember a post from Jon Morrow over at Copyblogger about this. If a certain segment is overcrowded it’s probably a good place to be, just be more savvy than the next person. Crowded niches are well, crowded for a reason … they work!

    No segment is ever too crowded, really. Learn the tools of the trade, master the technology, tell your unique story and JUMP IN! :)

    Nothing is 100 percent original, but you can put your unique flavor to work and make it happen.

    Now I’m ready to roll … Love the post!

    • Jamie Lee

      Hello, Craig! :)

      I love the brass tacks element of Jon’s work and writing. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to him on the phone and can say that he is as authentically himself in that medium as he is in his writing. Jon is a great example of someone who isn’t at all afraid of being lost in the crowd. He understands the power of personality.

      For some reason, your comment reminds me of another “angle” on the fear of competition – the fear of doing it “wrong.” We often become obsessed with doing it “right.” We worry that someone will check our work against the universal answer key, find that we’ve screwed up, and put a red “x” next to our work. But, the truth is that there isn’t one, right way. In fact, the people who can find the unique and creative ways to solve old problems – those are the people who stand out, attract a like-minded audience, and get to build their business the way they want to. These people don’t even think in terms of making sure they’re evenly matched against the competition. They are inventing a whole new game – that whole red sea/blue sea thing.

      Wow. Now I’M the one ready to roll. Thanks for that! :)

      • Hi Jamie,

        You know me, I’m big on that “killer swag” thing and think everyone has a unique story to tell. Have a great weekend and keep on rollin’!

  5. Jamie,

    I come here via the boys above (Craig & Srini) and via twitter. That’s my story right there in a nutshell.

    I am living those fears right now. I think a lot of us are even if they are afraid to admit it but like you we say WHO CARES and we plod on getting better, connecting, growing and most of all learning.

    Craig said it, find your unique voice and go for it. And like you said don’t quit. Hard work is called that for a reason. It’s hard.

    Inspiring words. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jamie Lee

      Hi, Ralph.
      Thanks so much for coming by!

      I love that your comment hones in on the “don’t quit” message. I think that’s one of the most important elements of any success – that dogged determination and refusal to give up and go home. How does the saying go? … “80% of success is showing up.” – (Woody Allen, I believe.) It’s so true. Just be there. Stay there. Even when things get hard. Good stuff will happen.

      Thanks much for your time and comment. So glad to “meet” you – just followed you on Twitter and look forward to perusing your fascinating blog.

      “See” you soon!

      PS – Love, love, LOVE your avatar. What a great smile! :)

      • Thanks! Blush…..enjoy the blog. Bit niche but that’s me. Love what you are doing here too. Looking forward to reading more.

        PS sorry it took so long to respond.

  6. Jamie,

    This is another great (and ridiculously timely) post. I have been fortunate in that I rarely worry about competition and scarcity. I believe that the difference is in the delivery and that there is always room for more. I see my so-called competitors as colleagues: folks I can learn from, work with and support.

    That being said, I have struggled (a lot) with the fear of invisibility — and with it’s counterpart: the fear of visibility. What if I put it all out there and it doesn’t resonate with anyone at all? What if my best is just not good enough? On the flip side, and in some ways just as terrifying, what if I get a whole lot of attention? Yes, I’ve worried about being invisible (because it would mean my business, my baby, will have failed), but I’ve also worried about being very visible and getting perhaps a bit more attention than is comfortable for me. It’s not an immediate danger, but I do recognize that there is a huge push-pull thing going on.

    All of these challenges are made easier with the support of friends and colleagues who get it! And I’m so grateful to count you among those friends who understand!



    • Jamie Lee

      Morning, Erica!
      Thanks for coming by. 😉

      You are so right – it is a double-edged sword.
      Change – even change that is logically “positive” – is always difficult. Though we strive to evolve in one direction or another, there are still quiet concerns that we have in the back of our minds about what will really happen in our lives if we succeed in creating our own metamorphosis.

      I also agree that there’s HUGE value in looking at competitors as not only colleagues, but often collaborators. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my “Savvy Sisters” over at and love to pay that forward each chance I get.

      Thanks for sharing your own fears and worries. So thankful that we are part of each others’ worlds. :) XO

  7. Good reading for a Sunday, Jamie !
    It so hits the nail on the head.

    It’s the kind of thing that niggles at the back of my mind too, very often. This is SUCH a competitive space but with the right mindset and rock solid strategy that we preach to customers, I think we can get there.

    I always admire what you’re doing, Jamie. Keep doing what you do.

    • Jamie Lee

      Hey, Jon!
      Always such a pleasure to hear from you.

      The “right mindset and rock solid strategy” is – as you say – a potent mix. You bring up – perhaps unintentionally – the fact that though a unique personality can help you stand out from the crowd, you’ve also got to have the skills and expertise to follow-through. There are people out there who present a wonderful personality and approach, but – sadly – come up a little short when it comes time to deliver.

      In a perfect world – your mindset and personality align with your strategy and purpose. That’s part of the reason it’s so important to be true to your real reasons for doing things and regularly make time to check in and make sure you’re still on track.

      You’re giving me more fodder for this week’s post. Thanks! :)

  8. Kerry Lee


    This could not have been a more perfect read for where I am at right now, thank you so much – serious soothing balm!

    Kerry Lee

    • Jamie Lee

      Kerry Lee,
      SO glad to have soothed. :)
      There’s nothing that makes me happier than a reader connecting with a piece of writing at just the right moment. It happens to me all the time and I’m always so grateful.

      Hope that you’re smiling at the possibilities that lie before you.


  9. Hi Jamie,

    This is a very relevant topic you’ve written about in a way that hits the mark on each point. I’m sure it resonates with a lot of people.

    Plenty of things certainly have been done before or there wouldn’t be more bookstores being built to sell books written to solve the same problems.

    Really enjoyed the post.

    • Jamie Lee

      Thanks so much, Kevin.
      It’s so true. There is really no such thing as being totally “new” or “original” anymore. Each of us needs to find our own “spin” or perspective.

      You make a great point, though – the same topics get written about again and again and again. I suppose that’s why they are called “evergreen.” Same can apply to ideas and products.

      TKS for stopping by and taking the time to comment.
      Appreciate it!

  10. Hey Jamie,

    Fear is something that always stop us from achieving more or better results. Fear stops us from trying something new. I have been facing the fears by saying that failures are alright and believing that failures are small footsteps before the big one (and it has been working). I have been able to do more, more than I ever imagined to do – with writing blog posts, commenting, sharing nuggets of knowledge in Social media.

    Fear is best when we face them, when we fail them and when we learn from them to do better next time.

    Thank you for the wonderful post, Jamie,


    • Jamie Lee

      Hi, Jeevan.
      Nice to “meet” you! :)

      The only way to disperse our fears is to face them down. It’s amazing to me how small they actually are when you get up close and look them in the eye. I did something at a workshop training yesterday that, before I did it, gave me prehistoric butterflies in my tummy; but once I did it turned out to actually be FUN! Who knew?!?

      There is a great line in the book Dune by Frank Herbert:
      “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.”

      It’s so true.

      Tks for coming by and taking the time to leave a few words. Great contribution.


      • Jeevanjacobjohn

        Nice to meet you too, Jamie 😀

        Yeah, experience is what that teaches us. I do remember a recent experience I had in my college. In our dining hall, we have this table in which you order everything individually – vegetables, fruits, meat etc. At first, I was kind of afraid (Since I didn’t know how it worked). But, I faced it. And the results was I got to enjoy delicious food :)

        We just need to face our fears, see how it works :)

        Note: I did note that you didn’t have your twitter username in your tweet share button (This makes it hard for you to keep up and for the visitors to connect via Twitter).

        • Jamie Lee

          I know – need to look into how to configure that tweet share button better. Actually – whole site is going in for an overhaul soon. I’ll get it all whipped into shape then!

  11. I am so thankful for coming across this post! I am 22 years old and for many years I have known that I wanted to BE MY OWN BOSS! now more than ever my passions are coming together and two businesses i am starting at the same time, are not anything new. However they are my passion and I want people to remember and respect me from these! i want to succeed and not look like a “copy cat.” My fear of failing, or doing something that has been done by experienced professionals with way more connections have held be back for a long time and despite my fears, I am stepping out. Its a scary leap of faith but I know this is my dream and I’ll never know unless I try. I am a woman of faith, and I truly believe God led me to this page to give me more encouragement, and I thank you for that! I cant wait to read more of your posts!
    God bless,

    • Jamie Lee

      Your comment is music to my ears, Jada. Good for you!!

      The fear of looking like a “copy cat” is a very common one that I believe we all battle at different times. Sometimes we are so blind to our own gifts – to the difference we bring to the experience. We take our own special abilities for granted.

      Learning to see and value your gifts is such a powerful step in the right direction.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and for commenting from the heart. I look forward to “seeing” you around the blog in the future! :)

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