THE BLOG

Marketing: The Secret That Can Be Stopping Your Success

03/11/2015 07:39 pm ET | Updated May 11, 2015

If you're in business you need to get your message out (a.k.a marketing). But there are certain tactics in marketing that are likely holding you back from achieving your dream.

Today I'm revealing the core tactic that can leave you feeling like a failure when a product or service doesn't seem to deliver what it's promised.

You see -- marketing does one thing: It sells the climax. It sells the outcome.

We live in a climax culture: we want the goal, we want the win, the finish line, the reward.

We snap photos of the mountain top, not the treacherous incline up. We share photos of reaching the peak on Facebook, we never dare tell the hours of cursing our way to the top.

Television's notorious for selling us the climax: there's always suspense and the cleverly crafted tease to keep us on the edge of our seat. What Hollywood's been doing is what marketing does, and these days marketing courses are doing and teaching these very things -- we're taught to think like a Hollywood director.

Have you ever watched a movie trailer that gave substance? Or do all movie and television trailers share one thing in common: showing us climax after climax?

And that's what marketing does: it sells climax after climax via headlines and bullet points of the things we desire, and teasing us along the way, telling us just enough to make us want to know more.

The secret they don't want you to know is the truth.

They never tell you about the groundwork and inevitable plateaus that arrive along the way. The concept of the plateau is something I first heard about from George Leonard, author of Mastery. The truth is that on every path there is a plateau. And the plateau is rarely spoken about, so when we hit it we think that we must be failures and that we must have done it wrong.

And that's when most people will give up or feel utter defeat. The plateau feels like the end of the line -- nothing is happening, nothing is moving, despite the effort and work that continues to go into the project.

And since marketing sells us the climax, we expect the outcome to come swiftly. But it rarely does.

Often when we embark upon a new project or think about starting a new business we get excited. We get sold on the outcome -- "Start your own business: Do what you love and make money."

It sounds simple and we want it. And we want it now. We buy the program. We buy the product. We start the program; do everything we're taught to a T. But we don't get the promised results. So we think that either the program is a scam or that we're failures, or "unlucky."

And sure -- all of those things are possibilities but the truth is this: the most likely fallacy that we swallowed was instantly expecting the climactic outcome.

We were never told how long the journey would be. We were never told that there would be epic peaks and shit-long valleys. It's like driving through the Rocky Mountains and then hitting the Canadian Prairies: at first it's full of excitement, mountain peak after mountain peak, but all of a sudden it's days of flat land. And in time, the flat land plateau begins to shift and there are mountains and highs once again. But all too soon the flatlands come again.

And the truth is: this is it -- every creative endeavor, every trip -- from business to traveling cross-country is filled with the unsexy plateau: the flatlands.

And the question is, can we make it through? Because it's one of the loneliest, scariest times and nobody talks about it.

Ninety-nine percent of the time we're never told its coming.

And marketing doesn't help since you're sold the outcome -- rarely will you hear about the hard work. The likelihood of getting started would decrease dramatically if we were sold the whole truth. Instead we're sold glimpses of the climactic truth.

Marketing has one job: to get us excited enough about the climax because we want to get out of our pain or boredom. We want to get out of the plateau so we buy something that sells us the climax hoping that it will take us there.

Sometimes a product or service will educate us, and support us to hit a peak. Sometimes it gives us what we're truly missing in order to move forward. Sometimes we purchase things and feel it was worth every penny. But often what we're sold leaves us wondering: what did we miss?

What we missed was understanding the plateau.

It's rare to ever hear about this and yet it's the most crucial lesson every entrepreneur, artist, creative, and dream-builder needs to know. So I have two actions for you

1. Share this article with a friend who might be feeling like a failure and wondering why nothing's moving forward despite all their hard work. Let them know that it's simply the plateau phase and it will shift.

2. Learn more about the path of mastery and understanding the plateau by reading Mastery by George Leonard. Whether you're looking to master your diet, your work, or your yoga practice, this book shares the truth that marketing leaves out.

I'd love to hear from you in the comments: share your stories of peak and plateaus and insights on how to keep going during a plateau.

Tova Payne is a writer and consultant to holistic entrepreneurs. Read more at www.tovapayne.com.