How to Break Through Your Marketing Set Point

Set point theory asserts that your body will fight to maintain a weight range where it is programmed to function optimally, assuming there are no other influences involved. Just as you have no control over your height, eye color or hair color, your body is biologically and genetically determined to weigh within a certain weight range, usually within a few pounds.

There’s an interesting parallel here with marketing. Practitioners frequently “do marketing” within a small range of comfort; what I call the marketing set-point. This typically leads to limited results.

While weight experts claim that you have no control over what your set point will be, that’s not the case with sales and marketing. If you plan to make huge gains in 2017 but haven’t addressed your set point issues first, you may find yourself disappointed yet again.

Your Big Frustrations with Marketing

In my recent survey, you said the following were areas where you felt stuck:

  • You have many possible ways to deliver your services but can’t decide which direction to go
  • You face fierce competition in your market and worry that you’ll get “edged out” by others who are bold marketers
  • You want to make your mark in your community but fear putting yourself out there
  • You are a brilliant clinician but lousy at explaining your value to prospective patients
  • You aren’t comfortable running a business and know that you’re leaving money on the table

Your sticking point on any of the above may be a set point issue. But take heart! Unlike weight, there is a common, powerful element that is likely at play behind all these speed bumps you’re running into: your programming.

I can spend all my energy teaching you proven sales and marketing strategies but if you are deeply programmed to dislike marketing and it’s regularly being reinforced by the “voices in your head,” none of the ideas that I or any other marketing “guru” offers can unwind that.

The good news is that you can override your conditioning through self-awareness and self-exploration to breakthrough your self-imposed marketing set-point.

Why I ADORE Sales and Marketing… and Why You Don’t

Here’s a story that illustrates this quite well.

My dad, Arthur, was the ultimate salesman. After he sold his restaurant (when I was just a wee tyke), he stepped into the world of sales and remained there until the age of 75. Art adored selling! Whether it was industrial cleaning solvents, real estate, disability insurance for local farmers, or cemetery plots, my dad was a true master at his sales craft. He was honest, passionate, and highly motivated to deliver top-notch solutions in every position he held (although one wonders about cemetery plots in this regard).

I remember sitting at the dinner table, hanging on every word as he described his sales calls; the descriptions and names of his customers, how he countered objections, how he handled rejection. I was amazed at his can-do attitude! As a door-to-door sales guy he had plenty of doors slammed in his face. In fact, a dog once attacked Art while making a cold call. He came home that night, his overcoat splattered with blood and his hand bandaged. The client, a farmer, wound up buying a policy from him while his wife cleaned and dressed my dad’s bloody hand. That farmer became a dear friend and we got free eggs for years.

One of my dad’s jobs required that he memorize a “sales script.” Night after night, I’d help him rehearse it and by the time he had ascribed it to memory, I could recite it myself. Good thing I was only 12 years old. Otherwise, he would have dragged me along on his cold calls and put me to work knocking on doors on the opposite side of the street.

Here’s my point: I was conditioned at a very young age to admire selling. I associated it with fun, love, excitement, and success. It never occurred to me that it was loathsome. And that experience set me up for great accomplishments in my 20-plus year career in sales and marketing.

But that’s me, not you.

I’m incredibly comfortable creating and teaching practice marketing strategies and know they deliver results. But why, using these same strategies, do some people excel while others not? Varying skill sets and experience levels explain some of the differences. But there’s something else at play. If you have bought program after program and nothing is moving you forward, one thing likely stands in your way: your conditioning.

How Your Conditioning Limits You

You know the old saying, “You are what you constantly think”? If you regularly think happy thoughts, you’ll act happy, if people always annoy you, you’ll not be very friendly, and so forth. It’s spot on in many respects… but just knowing this isn’t enough to tackle limiting behaviors and thoughts. There’s a missing piece to this puzzle which plants those thoughts in your head in the first place.

It’s “how you think is what you’ve been conditioned to believe.”

For example, if you grew up in an environment where the attitude toward salespeople was disparaging, and this idea was reinforced throughout your life, you’d probably avoid all activity that had to do with selling. On top of that, the world is rife with nasty remarks about the sales profession. Granted, many who sell are terrible at it, so it’s easy to become disillusioned by those who sell. But over time and through repetition this belief becomes more deeply ingrained in your internal belief system and BAM before you know it, your dislike of selling and marketing becomes automatic.

Your programming can enable you to be great – or cripple you and cause ongoing struggle and despair. The million-dollar question is how do we change something that is deeply wired into our circuitry?

The Easy Answer That’s Hard to Fix

The answer is through self-awareness.

Self-awareness is about being present in the moment. It means examining what’s really going on the split-second your automated responses show up and take over.

Here’s an example. Say you’re at an industry event and a speaker is selling a program during her presentation. She is pushing the audience to “buy today for a special deal.” Do you:

  1. Feel irritated and condemn the speaker?
  2. Get uncomfortable and look for the closest exit out of the room?
  3. Buy the program because others are buying it and you don’t want to be left out?
  4. Calmly observe the speaker’s approach and take notes on possible sales strategies to model?

If you typically answer 1, 2, or 3, you might be playing an old, familiar tune from some conditioning in your past.

Think about it. The speaker is just doing her job. She is probably not getting paid to speak and was told she could plug her program instead and make money that way. She makes her living by selling programs. Her sales pitch might stink, but she’s not a bad person. In fact, she’s not doing anything wrong at all!

Here’s the dangerous part: Your conditioning not only influences your reaction to that speaker in that moment, it also reinforces the wiring that keeps you stuck repeating the same, potentially self-destructive, behaviors in your life, too.


In these moments, you must take control. To stop the negative thoughts in their tracks and ask some questions instead. My favorite self-talk questions include:

  • Why am I reacting this way?
  •  Is this situation/person truly wrong or bad, or is it my conditioning that’s speaking here?
  •  How might this thought be hurting me?
  •  How could this thought help me?
  •  Am I allowing others to influence me right now or are these my own beliefs?

If you want breakthrough results this year, your starting place may be with understanding your limiters and where they come from. Only then can you reset your marketing set point. Before putting your intentions on doing things that you are programmed NOT to do.

You can tame the voices in your head that keep repeating the same, potentially self-destructive, refrains.

Once you take control, nothing can get in the way of your best year yet.

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