A successful small business marketer is a cross between an eternal optimist and a hard-nosed realist.

If you don't cultivate optimism, your efforts will be sporadic, half-hearted, and uncreative. On the other hand, if you look at the world only through rose-colored glasses, you may develop a false sense of confidence and plunge blindly into an expensive media blitz, bypassing the necessary planning and evaluation.

While optimism is an essential state of mind for pursuing any goal, it needs to be tempered with a dose of realism.

Sometimes a company's worst enemy can be self-defeating attitudes. You know it's time to regroup and re-examine attitudes and your creative process when you hear yourself or one of your associates saying, "I didn't think that ad would work, anyway!"

Does that sound familiar? If you ever have serious reservations about an ad, a marketing campaign, or a sales presentation, then it's time to step back, re-evaluate it, and get some outside feedback before launching it.

Resolution #1: Get a Second Opinion

Run the concept, the graphics, or the sales message by some associates, a couple friends, or even family members who are willing to offer some constructive criticism.

Ask them what their immediate reaction is and why the sales message is or is not persuasive. Do they think it would compel them to take action if they were prospective customers, or does it just blend in with the hundreds of other marketing messages they're exposed to day after day?

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Joel Sussman is a writer, a newsletter editor and the president of Optimal Marketing Communications. To subscribe to his newsletter, visit his Web site, MarketingSurvival Kit.com, or send an email to optimal-marketing@getresponse.com.