The Marketing Challenge of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt)



The pace of change within marketing is accelerating with better choices and more options.  While this is seemingly a good thing, it often leads to inaction by the marketer concerned about making the correct decision.  Barry Schwartz’s “research on the paradox of choice” demonstrates how too many choices degrade people’s ability to make decisions.

Choice overload can make you question the decisions you make before you even make them, it can set you up for unrealistically high expectations, and it can make you blame yourself for any and all failures. In the long run, this can lead to decision-making paralysis, anxiety, and perpetual stress.

Simultaneous changes in technology, marketing channels, and customer behavior challenge a lot of tried and true tactics that worked in the past. The drumbeat that “everything is changing” implies Marketing faces fundamentally different challenges than in the past. The result is fear, uncertainty, and doubt about what will work.


As marketing departments fill up with highly focused skill sets, such as SEO, social media, and marketing automation, the typical marketing department knows more and more about less and less. It goes unnoticed that the fundamentals of good marketing are not changing. The central mission of marketing is bringing attention of your company or product to the correct demographic.

Changes in technology, options, and customer behavior present an opportunity for marketing to think and act more broadly. Left unchecked, a focus on increasingly specialized roles narrows the focus away from the strategic. Attention to fundamentals adds a strategic layer that ramps up marketing’s value and influence across the entire organization. Marketing opens up a vital window to the world; it’s your company’s eyes and ears.


The research by Barry Schwartz indicates that eliminating choices can greatly reduce the stress, anxiety, and inaction.  Seen from this perspective in terms of marketing, clearing away FUD involves implementing a strategic marketing plan that focuses available resources where they generate the greatest benefit. Implementing an effective strategic marketing plan based on a deep understanding of customers provides the foundation for determining strategic priorities and setting criteria for assessing tactics.

Success requires separating valuable marketing opportunities from the vast array of shiny objects seeking to distract you from your goal. Highly effective marketing requires a sharp strategic focus, not a new million dollar budget.


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