A common diagnosis I identify when treating marketing dysfunction is hoarding disorder. Most of us have seen the TV shows about people who have houses overrun with clutter, but many entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t realize that what horrifies them on TV might be something they suffer from in their business practices.

Hoarding in Marketing

Hoarding is a disorder. It is a difficulty of discarding or parting with possessions. In simpler terms, hoarding is clutter. It has been popularized by TV shows that involve extreme hoarding, where people have so much stuff piled up all over their house that you can’t even see the floor. Hoarding can also correlate on how we operate (or fail to operate) our web marketing possessions. When my team and I work with clients on their digital marketing, we often find that one of the problems with why they aren’t getting the results they want is that they have too much crap – and that they aren’t willing to part with it. Keeping crap that you don’t need (extreme or not) is hoarding. I don’t care if you paid a lot in 2007 for your website – if it doesn’t work today, then it is crap – crap that is overriding your ability to get on a better marketing path.

Speaking of clutter, my first website for Web Marketing Therapy almost a decade ago cost me more than $40,000. B.W., I outsourced the project. (B.W. is “Before Wil” our awesome web lead at WMT). The site was built before today’s easy responsive templates and while it worked when the company launched, the site began to implode over the years.  Almost every month I had to either pay the old web firm or my staff to troubleshoot bugs. I started looking at the time and money spent on troubleshooting and realized the problem could be solved by letting go of the site. I finally said f*ck it, kill the site. Constantly spending money to fix the site made me feel resentful, unmotivated, yucky, crappy – all of the things I am against. So WMT made our site a one-page website which stayed that way for over a year (since we were so busy making client’s sites great!) until we were ready to rebuild it. Did business suffer?  NOT AT ALL.  Letting go of clutter was super healthy for me and the company. It was feng shui. Instead of hoarding something that blocked me, I got rid of it.

You have to be willing to let things that don’t work go. If it doesn’t fly – say goodbye!  You cannot have change unless you’re willing to change. If things don’t work, cut it. Just freaking cut it. What’s your biggest risk? Usually, your biggest risk is not taking a risk. Sure, the thought of my firm not having a full site for a while was risky – what would customers think?  But once I focused on the bigger picture (money spent should be money invested), I realized the biggest risk was that I didn’t have to spend money every month to fix a site that sucked anymore. And of course, in true marketing best practice, I addressed my decision in a blog post in case my employees or clients asked. 🙂

Why is Hoarding in Marketing Dysfunctional?

Marketing hoarding is dysfunctional because it can block progress.  Web marketing hoarding can be as minor as a website that still says “welcome” on the home page. (I mean c’mon, really? Welcome?  We are past that….that is so 1997.) Hoarding can also be not willing to cut content that does not need be on a site.  I love the hoarders who are so attached to work because maybe they wrote it or spent a lot of time or money on it.  So what?  If it doesn’t work anymore, you have to let go! My response to hoarders is a blow to the ego, but here it is: is get over yourself. Let your ego go, it can often block progress. Yes, you probably spent a lot of time writing that content, and yes, you probably paid a pretty penny to have that site designed, BUT if it does not fly, say buh-bye! Typical reasons why people hoard digital marketing assets that don’t work for them:

1.    They paid a lot for it.

2.    They spent a lot of personal time creating it, writing the content, and/or overseeing the project.

3.    They are attached to it for reasons that might be subconscious.

Yes, I get it, it can be hard to let things go. However, you need to ask yourself, does (Insert web marketing asset) still work for me? Do I have statistical evidence to prove that this is working? If the answer is no or even “I’m not sure”, you need to do consider change. Slow is the same as stop with digital marketing. Rules change and when you’re not able to let go of things that are no longer serving your goals, then you limit positive change as well as growth and progress.

Marketing hoarding also ties into digital marketing activity – not just web pages. Are you hoarding actions? For example, if you’re doing social media every day and it’s frustrating and time consuming and you aren’t sure it is working, then you are hoarding activity. This means you are not letting go of that activity even if it’s not doing you any good.

Hoarding can be hanging onto site content, activities – even vendors.  I love it when I come in to do marketing therapy and a client isn’t ready to fire a vendor, even when the vendor is doing a poor job! That’s hoarding!

Sometimes we get comfortable with being uncomfortable. We need to be willing to let go of things that don’t work marketing-wise for the sake of our business.

Ways to Overcome Marketing Hoarding

Therapy ties into the healing process.  You have to start with a breakdown to get to that breakthrough.  Identify challenges or problems, get them out there, then you can move into resolutions. The people who get out of therapy quicker are the ones who are willing to do the work.

Hoarding is hanging on to a bunch of clutter that is reminiscent to the past. If you are a hoarder, don’t feel bad. It happens to a lot of us. Admitting that you have a problem is the first step towards recovery; now you need to focus your energy on cleaning up the clutter.

Just like style consultants often begin work by getting rid of the clothes that are just not working for clients, good marketing consultants need to help you clean up your crud before you add new solutions. Why wait for spring to start cleaning – start now!  Get rid of the stuff on your site, the daily activities, and the vendors that are not working before you add (or buy) more stuff.

Get on the path towards healing. Like the popular song from Frozen says, let it go.