Imposter syndrome is that sneaky feeling of doubt or worry that the work you are producing is not up to that of your competitors. It’s important to know that you are not alone- Many successful agency owners openly talk about their experiences of battling imposter syndrome and many discuss how they still use that experience to fuel their drive to deliver a successful campaign to their customers. We’ve asked a panel of digital marketing experts to weigh in on their experience with overcoming imposter syndrome.
- Give yourself credit
Jen Bee of The Busy Bee Agency says “One way to overcome imposter syndrome is by realizing that there are actual imposters out there claiming they are digital marketing professionals. More likely they have either taken a course through Udemy or Hubspot, received a “certification” and are charging big bucks for their services while rehashing stale advice on their Instagram. But, because they know how to market themselves and have the confidence to do so without any actual hands-on experience, they get the clients you’re fighting for, leaving you wondering “why them?” and believing that maybe you don’t have what it takes. You have to believe in what you’re capable of and the skills you have. You can’t compare yourself to someone else because who knows where their business is coming from. You just have to keep producing and providing value because when the frauds are uncovered, their unsatisfied clients will see your value and come to you.”
Daniel Snow of The Snow Agency advises “I suffered imposter syndrome as a result of having early success as a college student. When you have imposter syndrome, it can make you question whether it’s a fluke and if it will last. You have to tell yourself to relax and be confident about where things are headed, and remember, you got this. It’s going to get better and better! Don’t let imposter syndrome rob you of enjoying your success.”
Zack Drisko of Rainmakr says “Look at what you’ve accomplished before starting the agency and compare it to other agencies out there that are doing fine. This was the biggest thing that helped me. My background was in marketing and social media, and I had achieved some results in-house before starting my own thing. This helped build confidence even if I was new to the agency game at the time. I then looked around at other agencies that were charging double or triple for the same work or even inferior work. It helped remind me that I was not out of my league, I wasn’t doing something I wasn’t qualified to do, I was just new to owning a business and nervous about that. It’s normal to question yourself throughout your journey. It’s a good sign, actually. It means that you have humility. Lean into that feeling and always try to learn, but don’t let it take over and run your life.”
- Trust your ability
Jim Christiana of M:7 Agency advises “Your experience doesn’t have to be that you sat through a marketing class, or that you worked your way up at some agency. Your experience can be real world experience marketing a product, service, or personal brand anywhere in the Omni channel platform. Once you have that experience you can trust your instincts and go for it. Don’t look back. Just ruthlessly trust it.
Having a great eye for good design, writing, and packaging is absolutely a talent and should not be diminished by the decision makers. You don’t necessarily have to be the designer or the writer, but if you aren’t, you have to be able to attract them to work with you.”
- Focus on delivering results
Jessica Taylor of Lead Nerds advises “As a marketing agency owner, it can be difficult not to feel like an imposter. You are responsible for making decisions that directly impact your business and clients. It’s easy to second-guess yourself and question whether or not you’re qualified enough to handle the job. My 1 tip to overcome imposter syndrome is to do the hard work, you need to know how to do every area of the business so when you hire someone you understand the language and work they are doing and can check them on it. This way you know you are delivering results. Because ultimately to overcome imposter syndrome as a marketing agency owner, you need to focus on delivering results. This will help you build confidence by showing that you have what it takes to make tough decisions and execute them well. If you can’t deliver results, odds are you need to either work for someone else or learn more about your craft.”
- Admit when you don’t know something
Kate Williams of People First Content says “Be open with clients when you don’t know something! Pretending to know more than you do about a niche topic doesn’t help anybody. It breeds mistrust when clients figure out that you’re faking it (which they’ll do pretty quickly). When I encounter a new challenge from a client that has me stumped, I let them know that I don’t have a good answer right now, but I’ll look into it and get back to them. And then, and this is really important, I follow through. I research online, crowdsource my network, and do whatever it takes to get an answer, even if it turns out to be that they should seek help for that particular need elsewhere. I try my best to give referrals from my network in those cases.
Nobody can be amazing at everything! Focus on what you excel at, learn about what you don’t know, and don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t have all the answers.”
- Embrace it
Pacifico Soldati of The Soldati Group states “The best way to overcome impostor syndrome is to embrace it by understanding that every world class marketer started at the bottom at some point. The fear and self-doubt you’re experiencing is not unique to you, and having impostor syndrome is actually a good thing because it means that you care. And if you care then you already have the mindset to be successful and all you have to do is take things one step at a time.
Don’t try and do everything yourself, hire your weaknesses, and in the beginning that means take a micro agency approach by recruiting creative partners. So if you’re great at email marketing but hate doing social media, find someone you like that can do social media so you can offer both to your clients. Take the time to reflect on what you want your business to be like and reverse engineer it by determining what needs to be in place. If you’re terrible with running the books then save money for an accountant.
The more you can play to your strengths the easier everything will be for you and before you’ll know it you’ll be breaking through that impostor syndrome in no time.”
David Toby of Pathfinder Alliance has an interesting approach. David explains “Let’s call your imposter symndrome Bob.
Bob says, ‘You’re not capable’. How do you respond?
Bob says, ‘You can’t do that’. What do you say?
Now, if Bob were your friend, it might say, ‘Hey, friend, I noticed we didn’t focus on a couple things, what if we spent a little time researching or practicing?’
By depersonalizing the imposter syndrome/doubt, we increase our objectivity, collect information, and gain insights that can help us identify potential gaps and blindspots. Make Bob your friend.”
- Set goals
Peter Cunningham, Owner of 7 Figure Gym says “I had this problem my entire 7 year marketing career, it’s not easy, but you can beat it by setting tangible and real goals that you can get too. Don’t set goals to make ‘X money’ set goals that get to that goal- Action goals I call them. Everyday, for instance even now with over 100 clients, a sales team and a bunch of other employees, part of my day is to make 25 calls to potential clients and 25 calls to current clients. I feel it keeps me grounded and is something that has helped me beat imposter syndrome by doing the actions of a successful agency owner.”
- Get perspective
Emily Paige of EKOH Marketing states “The best thing I have done as an agency owner to help overcome my imposter syndrome is joining business networks and becoming friends with other business owners I can talk to on a regular basis. Through this, I have found that many other business owners from all different backgrounds, experiences, and levels of success also have imposter syndrome. This really helped me get perspective and curb my own negative self talk.”
In conclusion, overcoming imposter syndrome involves creating a mindset shift and trusting in your abilities and experiences as a digital marketer. It also helps to get perspective and understand that many other successful professionals have had their own doubts. Using that doubt to drive your desire to create effective results for your clients is a great way to turn your mindset around and get ahead.