5 Steps To Dealing with the Relentless Pace of Marketing

Recently a client admitted, “I’m exhausted.” 

The advent of Social Media has not only made the marketer’s role more strategic and complicated, it’s also made it much more BUSY.  Our client was waxing nostalgic for the days when “Getting Ink” was the big mark of success.

Now it’s:

  • Get ink
  • Track and engage influencers ranging from Scoble to a momblogger to a Facebook Group Admin
  • Escalate customer service issues found online before they become a mess on Twitter or Google
  • Develop fresh, compelling content, every single week (or every single day!) for the Social Media outposts including the corporate blog, the YouTube Channel, the Facebook Page, the Twitter stream, LinkedIn Answers, Slideshare, etc. 
  • Keep tabs on competitive content

IStock_000000175705XSmall“There are days when I just want to chuck it all,” the marketer said.  “The job has become relentless, the requirements for content are voracious.  Every day you see someone ELSE post something brilliant and buzzworthy — and you’re jealous and afraid — but then that bit of content is buried under something ELSE even better … So you realize that even the brightest bit of content you create has, at best, a 2–week shelf life, and by then you’d better be thinking about your Next Big Thing …”

Sound familiar?  (Tired, yet?) 

The cruelest part of this story is that this client contact wasn’t even 30–years-old yet!  Despite their youth they were already exhausted.

This is a dilemma for every marketer, every PR agency, everyone.  We recently lost a great employee because she had “crisped” from the pace.  It’s understandable.  I haven’t blogged in almost 2 weeks (due to a brief vacation and a busy schedule), and I’ve literally been in a near-panic about it, as I watch my friends like Chris Brogan, Brian Solis, David Armano, Valeria Maltoni, Jason Falls, etc. blog their booties off, with great content all along the way.

What to do?

When faced with overwhelming to-do’s, I find it best to break things down into the smallest parts possible. This doesn’t necessarily make the job easier in the end, but it does help to re-focus the mind on what’s important.

First: decide on your goals.  Is your goal to be the coolest & most popular?  Is your goal to be known as a thought leader in your industry?  Is your goal to boost SEO for search terms related to your space?  If you don’t figure this out, you’ll drive yourself nuts because lacking a plan, your ego will take over and drive you mad. 

IStock_000011751237XSmallSecond: ask for help.  The voracious Interwebs should not be faced alone, not forever.  For my part, I have initiated a series of casual conversations with friends and colleagues to enlist their aid in planning (and developing) “what’s next,” both for this blog and for SHIFT’s other digital embassies.    

Third: set a reasonable pace.  There will always be someone smarter, more prolific, and more popular than you or your company.  Don’t fall prey to the need to compete on the speed of content creation; instead, set a pace that you know won’t drive you bonkers. 

Fourth: “under-promise and over-deliver.”  For example, promise youself you’ll write “One good blog post per week” (sounds reasonable), and if you write a second or (gasp!) a third post — you’ve over-exceeded a reasonable goal by 300 percent!  Granted, this is related to “pace” but it extends to other areas such as measurement (see below), commenting on external blogs, developing a new series of Facebook quizzes, etc.

Fifth: measure.  You’ll probably have to do this for your boss, anyway, but even if you don’t, set some reasonable metrics that you’re sure you can readily and easily track.  There are tons of tools, both free (Google Analytics, Facebook Insights) and not-so-free (Sysomos, Radian6) that can give you a grasp on how you’re doing.  Write those goals down and track your progress.

I hope this helped you.  (It helped me!)  Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.  A marathon takes training, endurance, and sticktoitiveness.  Mostly sticktoitiveness.

Posted on: August 17, 2010 at 2:05 pm By Todd Defren
35 Responses to “5 Steps To Dealing with the Relentless Pace of Marketing”


  • Great post!! We all struggle with this on a daily basis…. I too, find it easier to break things down to the smallest parts and start with the most pressing projects… I will say thought that really enjoying what you are doing and getting yourself organized and utilizing all the tools available to you will make your job a whole lot easier and more enjoyable! Loving this niche helps to be able to work 10 hours days if you have too..

    I enjoyed reading the comments as much as the post… Great conversation, keep it going!

  • Teena says:

    I’ve been there as well, I can’t say I’ve manage my time well but somehow I made my life easier getting my own VA. Though it still hits me at times, I don’t have to do all the work. This article is still useful for me. More practice on organization, prioritization and I don’t have to complain about the relentless pace of marketing :D

  • “sticktoitiveness” I like the sound of that :) I’m a marathon runner. Not as fast as many others, although I can sprint (years in soccer leagues), definitely going for the long distance.

  • Christian Kratsas says:

    You may even want to add a sixth step, plan. By planning what and when content should be posted, you eliminate the stress of not posting enough fresh content. Anyone who desires to be part of the social media community should create a weekly “post agenda” in order to maintain fresh content within all participating mediums. You can utilize step three when deciding how often you wish to post and step four when creating the content. If you do over-exceed your weekly goal, keep the overflow content in a queue for another week when you are limited on time, restricting you from meeting your post agenda.

    Christian, Dymun + Company

  • Barbara says:

    I’ve noticed that in an effort to be prolific, some bloggers and Tweeters post content that is not all that compelling. While you obviously do need to maintain a continuous presence in your chosen social media forums to gain traction and other benefits, it’s better to post when you have something worthy to say rather than just post for the sake of making noise. Know your audience and stick to what’s important and relevant to them.

  • DAVID SPINKS says:

    Funny to see so many familiar faces in the comments. People that have been engrained in this stuff for as long, or more often longer than I have.

    It’s something we’ve sensed creeping up on us over the past 6 months or so. This fatigue or keeping up with the rush.

    A lot of us started blogs to get a job. We networked our ass on twitter to get established. Now we have a job and we’re relatively established. Keeping up isn’t so easy.

    My blog has suffered, sure. But overall, slowing down has been better for me. I’ve been focusing a lot more on my job and putting together a functioning business. In the end, I think that’s what I should be spending my time on.

    I’ll keep up with the social media stuff when I have time.

    David, Scribnia

  • Chris Moody says:

    Great read Todd and thanks again for helping with the Phonebooth “ask an expert” project.

    My favorite bit of advice is “ask for help.”

    I’m always amazed at how people rally when you take the time to ask them for help. As long as it is an honest approach for help, even the killer folks you mentioned usually love reaching out a hand to those in need.

    Thanks for the advice.

    Chris Moody
    Social Marketing Manager at Phonebooth.com

  • I have merely written a little plan for myself. It’s all in my head, but it’s nice to give something on report to balance it out.

    Something to attention deficit disorder to the measurement charge follows to use the statistics to find out what you’re doing right. I can see huge trends in god blog about what masses have been interested in compared to the less leasing places I have made.

  • sAXBY says:

    I’ve just written a little plan for myself. It’s all in my head, but it’s nice to have something on paper to balance it out.

    Something to add to the measurement point is to use the statistics to find out what you’re doing right. I can see huge trends in my blog about what people have been interested in compared to the less engaging posts I have made.

  • Great post. Part of the problem is that social and digital media has been added to the plates of many marketers and communicators without the addition of any staff or resources.

  • Great post, and I think this is a predictable reaction to the constant onslaught of all the challenges social media presents.

    “Set a reasonable pace” and “under-promise and over-deliver” are good recommendations, but a lot of the time both the pace and expectations are being set by others.

    Social media demands so much time and attention, I think the rate of burnout is going to start accelerating soon. There are a lot of people producing a lot of content, responding to everything thrown at them, and I wonder, when do they have time to unwind? It’s critical for mental health.

  • Michelle Strier says:

    Very sound advice regarding work and social media content, but great advice for our fast-paced, multi-tasking lives as well. I’ve implemented realistic goal-setting and asking for help at home too, not to mention the all important “screen free time”. . . no TV, no computer, no iphone– just me.

  • Chris Frost says:

    An excellent article. As you say it is an exhausting experience marketing and never ending. However much you do there is more to do and yet more that should be done.

  • Krista Lamb says:

    I loved this post. I work for a non-profit with a small staff and it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed by all of the things on my marketing ‘to do’ list. These are great ideas to help manage that list, as well as a wonderful reminder that I’m not alone!

  • 40deuce says:

    All too true Todd.
    I hate to say it, but I know exactly how you and your client are feeling. There is just so much going on that sometimes it feels like it’s really hard to keep up. I’m one of those young(er) people you spoke of, and it sometimes can feel like it’s all a bit much.
    Everyday I’m trying to keep up with stuff for my work, my personal things (such as my own four blogs) plus things I’m interested in (which, god for bid, sometimes may have nothing to do with social media and the internet).
    I’ve adopted that same philosophy that you’ve suggested as well. I need to do things at my own pace, but one that works efficiently. While I used to try to update each of my blogs a couple a times a week, I’ve now scaled back to try for once a week and sometimes it’s even less. I did that though so I can concentrate on the most important things first and then do what I love when I can.
    With the web moving in “real-time” it’s sometimes hard to always keep up, but if people are doing what they think is appropriate and making it work for them, then they are the ones that have found this happy balance.
    While I agree with all of your points above I think most people should walk away with the advice from #3 “set a reasonable pace.” It can work and if you;re doing it right it WILL work.

    Also, thanks for the Sysomos shoutout.


    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

  • Randy Burge says:

    I’d like to underscore the advice to “get help.” Ironically, in this social world, too many people responsible for “social” are going it ALONE. The new world order is, in fact, giving us new reasons to integrate and collaborate… to find content from across our organizations (even from our users and clients)… and to TALK about what makes sense. Remember, this is more about listening than pontificating. And yes, there are ways to make this all so much easier.

  • A very interesting and thought provoking piece Todd. Just goes to show marketing should be about QUALITY not quantity – sometimes slowing down to smell the roses is exactly what’s needed!

  • kneale mann says:

    Oh good, I thought I was alone. ;-)

    There is officially too much content, not enough time, too many ideas, not enough money, too many voices, not enough execution, too many thoughts, not enough – did I mention time?

    They say you can be lonely in a crowded room, so can your content.

    There will always been someone who thought of that thing you wish you had but don’t expect to hear from others when you are the originator of a cool idea because the rest of us are silently wishing it had been us.

    Great list, Todd!

  • Katie Morse says:

    Wow. Thanks for the Radian6 shout-out in your stellar post. Scott’s comment really nails it above – how do you find time to slow down and focus on what matters when you’re racing ahead to accomplish the things you set out to do?

    It’s a tough balance to strike and I think we all face it. I’ve found that checking back on a weekly basis to the metrics that my success is measured by helps me to re-align things that I’m doing and avoid feeling so overwhelmed. If something seems slightly out of line with my ultimate goals and success metrics, that’s an opportunity for me to evaluate the task and ask for input where needed. If it’s right in line? It helps me to plan better to make sure that it gets my full attention and done to the best of my ability.

    It’s a tough balance to strike and I think that in many ways, it’s always going to be a struggle. Knowing that just helps me keep a consistent eye on it, which is really the key (for me at least).

    Community Manager | Radian6

  • I think it’s easy to be overwhelmed, especially when all people are at different stages of their knowledge, understanding and career. The brands are different, the approaches are never the same, and we all want to absorb the knowledge to make either the client or brand as best as it can be. There is truly a lo of content out there, but the focus has to be on which parts will a.) make the brand the best it can be and b.) utilize ideas and meshes with the overall marketing/PR objectives.

    The “asking for help” really hit home for me. I think it’s all about knowing when to ask for help, being ok with saying “I don’t know” and understanding that saying I don’t know isn’t failure. It’s admitting that you want whats best for the brand, and only putting in a certain amount of percent because of lack of understanding won’t help the cause.

    Thanks for mentioning us.

    Lauren, Radian6

  • Ryan Skinner says:

    “Crisped” how exactly? I’d be curious to hear the precise symptoms. Your points are all good, but I would precede them all with “know your audience”. Spending some time putting yourself in the shoes of your audience and community will settle lots of nerves. What do they actually expect and want of you? Do that. What would pleasantly surprise them? Do that (very occasionally). Then, as you say, measure.

  • More honest stuff, Todd. Love it!

    The beast we’ve created with social networking, online conversation monitoring, content-creation, etc. reminds me of what the migration to suburbia throughout the second half of the 20th century. We spread out, got more room, built bigger houses, filled them with more stuff, signed up for more activities (soccer and karate and dance and PTA and…), and built vast networks of roads and telephones to connect us and to facilitate our busy lives.

    And for what? Are we more satisfied? Are our relationships better? Have we made life better for the beaten down? In some ways, yes. In other ways, we’ve gone the opposite direction.

    We have to remember to slow down. To breathe. To not get absorbed in the competition. To connect more intimately with the few people we know, rather than seek out more (and possibly more shallow) connections with people we don’t yet know.

    When we say “Business is about relationships,” we’re forgetting the most important part: Business is about good relationships. And it’s hard to build those when you’re too busy racing.

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