Suddenly Marketing

Brand Messaging | Content Strategy | Writing

You have a right to be here – Marketing Mindset 101

Marketing takes courage. It can be scary and confusing. It can cause you to question your motivations and abilities. It forces you to go head-to-head with your competition, sing your own praises, and make promises about what you can deliver. You have to find your voice.

Marketing takes faith. It can feel like you’re jumping into the void without a parachute. There are no guarantees and no one-size-fits-all playbook. Best practices are a myth. The playing field and tools of the trade are constantly changing and evolving. You have to keep trying new things.

Marketing takes perseverance. You won’t ever be done. Marketing is not something you can check off your list. It’s a living, breathing part of your business. You have to develop stamina, find your stride, and settle into your groove.

Marketing takes play. Creative, inspiring ideas are not born in boardrooms or cubicles. They spring from non-work experiences and a sense of fun. Your best ideas wait around the corners of your life, jumping out at you at the dinner table, in the shower, or while you’re on a walk. Be open to receiving them. Embrace the crazy and unlikely. You have to play more.


I talk to a lot of people who dread marketing. They don’t feel courageous, full of faith, ready for the long haul, or inspired to play. They feel afraid, uncertain, overwhelmed, and bereft of ideas. They feel like they don’t have any right to be doing what they’re doing. They are afraid that they are not enough – not credentialed enough, not experienced enough, not skilled enough, not well known enough.


Enough with “not enough.”

One of my favorite movies – A Knight’s Tale – is the story of a boy born into poverty, but given the gift of a father who believes it’s possible to “change your stars.” This loving father apprentices his son William with a traveling knight and sets him on a path full of possibility. Though he does not have the proper lineage or papers to participate in the royal jousting tournaments, grown William adopts a false identity in order to enter the lists and compete against “real” knights.

William’s arch nemesis is a cruel and condescending knight who scoffs at William’s efforts. At the lowest points in the story, when William has been beaten down, this knight repeatedly tells our hero, “You have been weighed. You have been measured. You have been found wanting.”


We are all afraid of being found wanting.

The “fraud factor” is something that inevitably comes up in my conversations with entrepreneurs. You know what I’m talking about, right? Just like William feared that his humble lineage would be discovered, you fear that some unknown force is going to out you for pretending to be something you’re not. You’re going to get caught and exposed.

Every successful person I’ve ever met has confessed to following the “fake-it-‘til-you-make-it” path at some point in the journey. Each of us has to make that leap of faith. We have to say, “yes I can” even when we’re not sure how to start. We have to be brave enough to accept the job even though we know we’re going to have to figure it out along the way.

Everyone does this. Even the most highly credentialed and experienced people have fears of inadequacy to push through.


“Who am I to _______?”

Most of the time, your most daunting opponent is not an outside force, but a voice inside your own head, asking you who the hell you think you are and in what alternate reality do you think you can succeed. You look at the people who have already “made it” and despair of ever being able to compete at their level. You figure it’s all been done before, why bother?

I recently went to hear New Yorker journalist and author Susan Orlean speak about her work. She had a lot of grounded wisdom to share, but my favorite quote from the evening was this, “Writing is purely an act of nerve – of saying, listen to me.”

Marketing is the same thing. You have to stand up and say out loud that people should not only listen to you, but also hand you cold, hard cash. You have to persuade them that you are worth their attention and investment. How can you do that if you’re listening to the voice in your head that is questioning your very existence on the playing field?


You have a right to be here.

I’m a divorced, single mom from a small town that’s ingloriously famous for fried clams. I don’t have a marketing degree. I learned everything I know about writing and marketing in the trenches and by the grace of a wonderful network of friends and colleagues who have supported and encouraged me each step of the way. I work from my home – a modest, 300 year-old antique less than a mile from where I grew up. I don’t speak at conferences, hobnob with industry celebrities, or have my own book (yet).

Sometimes I wonder what gave me the nerve to hang out my shingle at all. I mean, who am I?

I’ll tell you who I am.

I’m a smart, passionate, creative, professional who is invested in the success of her clients. I’m someone who gives a damn. I’m someone with ideas worth hearing and the know-how to execute. I’m someone who helps clients – from global brands and newbie solopreneurs – untangle their marketing challenges … and have fun doing it. I’m someone who makes a difference.

I have a right to be here. And so do YOU.


Who are YOU?

Marketing takes courage. It means standing up and saying why you matter. It means saying you can do it better than the other guy. That’s not an easy thing to do, especially if that opposing knight in your head is holding a sword to your throat.

Don’t give in to the fear. You deserve to be here. You have something to offer. Remember:

  • You don’t need to be the most experienced. Though you may consider yourself a “newbie” with lots (and lots!) to learn, there are people who are a few steps behind you who would be thrilled to know what you know.
  • You don’t need to know everything. No one expects you to have all the answers. It’s okay to say, “I don’t know.” It’s okay to be clear at the start about what you do and what you don’t do. You’re allowed to specialize in a particular niche and steer clear of the things that are outside your area of knowledge.
  • You don’t need to play by the rules. You can make your own rules. Have you heard of the red ocean vs. blue ocean strategy? Create your own playing field by approaching things in a new way. Don’t make the mistake of becoming a commodity; stake out new territory for yourself.
  • You don’t need to be like everyone else. Invest in some strong branding. Your brand – personal or business – is the thing that sets you apart from the crowd. Use strategic branding to differentiate your value proposition – your brand promise. A solid brand and messaging platform will clarify your position, personality, and offer so that they leaps off the page for your “right” people.


Before you can get serious about marketing yourself or your business, you have to get into the right mindset. That’s my first mission when I’m working with a new client and it’s what I enjoy most about my work. Getting into the right frame of mind is all about finding your voice, trying new things, working your groove, and rediscovering play.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re feeing overwhelmed by marketing. It’s completely normal. You’re not going to instantly have the courage, faith, perseverance, and sense of play that make great marketing. You have to work your way into those things. Sometimes, you need a little help, and that’s okay too. Just remember – you have a right to be here. You have a right to do that thing you do in the way you do it. You have a right to say, “Damn, I’m good!” out loud.

Like William, you have a right to a place in the tournament lists even if you don’t have the right lineage or credentials. You already have everything you need: your story, your enthusiasm, and your desire to succeed.  Branding and marketing are just there to help you clarify and amplify your message.


Have you ever suffered from feeling like you didn’t have a right to be doing whatever you were doing? Did it hinder your marketing? How did you get past it? Do you see people around you who are amazing at what they do, but seem unable to promote themselves because they feel unworthy?


Image from A Knight’s Tale © 2001 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved – sourced from IMDB


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  1. Love this big time Jamie!!!
    Even after 12 years of doing my work I still have moments of “Who the hell do I think I am?” so I understand completely.

    Your words are a balm, soothing and encouraging all of us to keep going after what we want. Thank you!

    • Jamie Lee

      Thank you, Sandi! That makes me smile. 😉

      This is a “pep talk” I find myself giving to many clients, and it’s something I believe so deeply. I thought it was time to share. Life is too short to hold back. Each of us has a right to pursue her dreams; we just need to give ourselves permission (and sometimes a kick in the butt!).

      Thanks so much for coming by.

  2. Jamie,

    What a POWERFUL post! Truthful and passionate just like you.

    I don’t even know where to start except to say that this moved me and and that I want to add a few attributes tho the list of who you are (with your permission): Loving, compassionate, wise, soulful, giving beyond what is ever expected and a courageous and BEAUTIFUL human being.

    What an honor to hear you say the words in this post.
    Please know I admire you.


    • Jamie Lee

      Bernardo, I am truly touched.
      Thank you so much for your generous and loving comment.

      My words come easier because I know you and am so inspired by your example.

      Thank you, my friend, for stepping out with what you do so that I and others can find our footing as well.

  3. First off, I LOVE a Knight’s Tale! Love how you take us through the hero’s journey as it relates to putting ourselves out there in the world!

    And this question keeps coming up with my clients over and over this idea of “Who am I to _______?” Word. For. Word. I sense it’s in the collective consciousness and we enlightened few now get the opportunity to dispel this myth.

    I LOVE the work you’re doing and the way that you OWN who you are in all of your truth – thank you for this today!

    • Jamie Lee

      Hello, Sabrina!

      You could be right about the collective consciousness, though I wouldn’t call myself enlightened 😉

      I think that this hero’s journey is one each of us has to make on his or her own, but I’m hopeful that putting encouraging messages out there might help turbo boost the process for some people. I’ve seen far too many good people with great ideas fall by the wayside because they didn’t feel they had the right to put themselves in the game, so to speak. Life’s too short for that.

      Thanks so much for coming by. Especially glad to know someone else who loves that movie. It’s SUCH a classic! 😉

      “Talk” soon!

  4. Hurrah! Jamie, this is fabulous. I spent two years of my business doing the wrong thing, the thing I didn’t really like very much, simply because I didn’t think I had earned the right to do the thing I love. So for two years, I continued to work with nonprofit organizations on their fundraising, sneaking the marketing into their diet like vegetables. I knew that I didn’t want to be a fundraising consultant and so, I really didn’t do much to market myself. But when a fellow business owner asked for my help with marketing, the light bulb went on! Suddenly, I realized that what I know and what I have to offer is valuable. And you, standing in your passion? Well, that is just a beautiful thing to witness! Thank you for the reminder that yes, we do have a right to be here.

    • Jamie Lee

      Isn’t it amazing how easily we are persuaded that we can’t do something, and how hard it is to convince us that anything is possible? Seems to me it’s a major flaw in human nature.

      Happily, it’s one that can be overcome. :)

      I’m SO glad, Erica, that you have turned your attention and energies to pursuing the work that you adore. You have a clear and deep passion that will power your work for a long time to come. The world needs your full brilliance.

      As always – thanks so much for coming by and sharing. So great to have you here, and I’ll SEE you soon! :)

  5. Is that Heath Ledger? Kidding. Hey lady, get outta my head. Sheesh. Do I know anyone who is great at what they do but unable to promote themselves? Well…..

    The fantastic thing about this post is that you can substitute marketing for whatever your ‘thing” is. Brilliant.

    It is extremely encouraging to hear that you made it through sheer hard work and using your smarts. That makes you one of those people i refer to as having a learning mindset a la Carol Dweck. You don’t see the world as a place with limitations.

    Cheers! I am so glad I came by here today.

    • Jamie Lee

      Yes, why yes it is, Ralph. 😉

      I’m so glad you liked the post. You’re right – this idea is bigger than marketing. It can apply to anything in your life. There have been plenty of non-marketing situations in my life where I’ve had to call upon this type of pep talk in a big way.

      A “learning mindset” is SO important!! You’re right. I don’t see the world as a place with limitations. I was brought up to believe anything is possible, and I try to keep that in mind each day of my life. It takes practice, but my dreams and expectations are getting bigger and bigger.

      Thanks for your two cents (always worth so much more). I’m glad you came by, too!

  6. Laura

    I am giving you a standing ovation for this one!
    Touche for giving a damn!

  7. Thank you. I needed this today.

    I’ve spent fifteen years quietly working as a songwriter, and for much of that time, my largest obstacle has been believing in my “right to be here.”

    One of the best realizations I (only too recently) came to is that nobody really has it all figured out. I always imagined that the “experts” knew some special rules I didn’t. Lately I’m learning they are just hard workers with the guts to do their thing loud and proud, in spite of the voices in their heads.

    Thanks again for the encouraging pep talk!

  8. Brenda

    Dear Jamie Lee,

    I’m taking the time to respond because I believe responding is a first step for me—a thread in a spiderweb—in the direction of self-marketing. I was in the throes of despair, once again, when I got your Live to Write-Write to Live post in my email box. Your words of wisdom couldn’t be more timely! I fit to a T the profile of the person who thinks she’s not worthy in spite of impressive credentials and experience many people would give a lot to have. And I’ve been told many times that I am an “amazing” writer and, funny thing is, I actually know that. I have a website that has been stagnating for years and in recent months have tried to start up a blog. The process is too overwhelming. I’m of retirement age and although I’m more computer and internet savvy than my 30-year-old daughter, I find cyberspace to be scary and unmanageable. Branding, it seems, is the key to successful marketing and that has been a huge challenge for me. I must get down to serious work with the knowledge that marketing is not a process that is ever over. Thank you for this inspirational message!

    • Jamie Lee


      I’m so glad you took the time to respond. Hearing that my words arrived “in the nick of time” is about the best reward I can hope for in this blogging journey. Many thanks.

      I don’t know you, but it sounds to me like you have it “going on” and just need to build up your confidence and find a marketing plan that is a good fit for your personality, promotion style, and technical expertise.

      You hit the nail on the head re: branding being the key. It is SUCH an important part of any marketing effort, but is often overlooked. It’s a great place to start, and if you’ve been reading my recent posts here at Suddenly Marketing you’ll know already that I’ve got quite the soapbox fever for THAT topic! 😉

      Love that you’re committed to getting “down to serious work,” but remember to HAVE FUN, too. Marketing shouldn’t be all drudgery. It should be about connecting with people you enjoy about a topic that makes your heart sing.

      If you’d like to have a quick, off-the-clock chat after the New Year has been rung in, drop me a line. I’d be happy to hop on the phone.

      Until then – best for the holidays and a very happy (and productive) 2013!

  9. Thank you so much for the advice. I am an actor and a writer, and I have found marketing myself as a professional to be very difficult. Getting myself to a place where I feel like I have something to contribute has been a journey, but I feel like I’m finally beginning to get there. Meditation and writing morning pages (from the Artist’s Way) has been huge. In the last two weeks, I have actually begun to notice a difference in the way in which people interact with me – perhaps because the way I am interacting with the world is changing. Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for this inspiring post. It was a good reminder that I am headed in the right direction, and that I do have a right to be heard.

    • Jamie Lee

      Wonderful to hear, Christine.

      I’m also a morning pages girl. I find they are a wonderful way to clear my head before starting my day (and following them with a little yoga helps, too!). :)

      Each of us has something to contribute. Too often we are tripped up by demons of comparison. We end up wasting our time trying to measure ourselves against others when our time would be better spent developing our own way of doing things.

      I love your combination of skills – actor and writer – I can imagine that must give you plenty of opportunity to stand out in unique ways.

      So glad if this post inspired you in any way. Keep moving forward and don’t forget to enjoy the journey!

  10. I had twenty years experience in medical/surgical sales. I retired four years ago and I am trying to rebrand myself as a spa blogger. Thank you for your words of support!

    • Love your spirit of reinvention, Erin. Thanks for coming by. I’m glad you found the post supportive. :)

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