Mike Connell

The Big Question: What are Your Biggest Marketing Challenges?

By: Mike Connell | March 2, 2018 | 
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biggest marketing challengesThere are a lot of challenges we face in communications and marketing.

We’ve talked about a lot of them: motivation, time management, struggles with keyword research, fighting fake news, time tracking and the billable hour.

My biggest marketing challenge (or PR challenge, or content creation challenge, or [insert appropriate discipline here] challenge)?

Productivity.

But that’s in the past, thanks to Gini Dietrich’s recent article.

What about you?

What do you consistently run up against? What’s the wall you always hit?

Those issues and tasks you dread week in and week out.

We didn’t sugar coat anything with this week’s Big Question (do we ever?):

What are the biggest marketing challenges you face?

The Challenge of Influence

Being wary of fake influencers is one thing, but determining what influence means in a particular category is one of Christina Nicholson’s biggest marketing challenges.

The biggest challenge is working with so-called influencers.

I say so-called because many call themselves that, but they’re not.

You really need to do your homework to ensure one’s following isn’t only real, but the engagement is also real.

So many participate in what is known as pods to increase their engagement, but that engagement is from friends and other so-called influencers—not people truly interested in the shared content.

Then, when you make it past that, you need to be sure the influencer is going to deliver what they are being compensated for delivering.

Many are not professional and attempt to get a deal or take advantage of certain perks, or never end up delivering what was agreed upon.

Biggest Marketing Chal… wait, I have to Retweet Something

The more connected, the more plugged-in we all get, the smaller the world becomes.

The more digitally distracted we get.

It’s not surprising Annette Gallo lists digital distraction as one of her biggest marketing challenges.

Digital distraction: the sheer amount of incoming emails, texts, tweets, DMs, and even the occasional phone call can be overwhelming at times.

I like to take one hour every morning to clear out the inbox and respond quickly and succinctly to any requests.  

If someone is asking to meet, I respond with three times that are an option, if someone is pitching a new product to us I quickly say yes or no.  

I try to keep it moving as much as possible.

Staying focused: being a business owner, you can find yourself easily swayed into some cool new opportunities.  

I try to keep my own personal brand “lens” on everything we take on. If it doesn’t fit core business, then it’s a pass.

The Productivity Challenge

Syed Irfan Ajmal agrees:

To be more productive and organized, we minimize distractions as much as we can.

This includes removing notifications from most of our mobile apps and using an app to remove the Facebook Newsfeed (to steer clear of FOMO).

Also, as our team is working remotely from over six countries, we use HubStaff to track our time.

This app also helps me compare my monthly/yearly activities and the time spent on them to my monthly/yearly revenue which is awesome.

I also use the Tomato One MacBook app to leverage the Pomodoro technique.

The biggest challenge for us is finding a project management solution which suits our needs.

We have tried software like Asana, TeamWork, etc.

Right now we are testing Trello, and are using Tim Ferriss’ Trello Productivity template to make the most of it.

But personally, I also use a small notebook and record each evening the top three-to-five tasks I’ve to do the next day.

And it works out pretty well.

Biggest Marketing Challenges: Keeping Up

Mary Deming Barber has two marketing challenges.

I think the biggest marketing challenges are two-fold:

1. Keeping abreast of technology so we can recommend the best opportunities to our clients and…

2. Maintaining and gaining trust from senior leadership in this world that’s so filled with fake news and so very much noise.

Managing Expectations

We’ve been discussing how the line between PR and marketing continues to blur.

If we’re still having that discussion internally, imagine the conversations our clients are having!

Educating what a communications strategy can and should target is an opportunity, but managing those expectations can be a challenge, one Carol Graf shares:

Lately, for me, it has been managing expectations of folks who need/want help but don’t fully understand what marketing can/can’t do for them.

So managing expectations, while educating.

Kendra Corman agrees:

I’m a marketer, not a magician. Just posting on Facebook isn’t going to double your business.

From Irene Kaoru:

A huge challenge I face is dealing with stakeholders who want results FAST rather than being patient.

Biggest Marketing Challenges: Resources and Time

Keeping up with technology. Billing more hours (or not). Lifelong learning. Family. Life.

There’s a lot to do, and not always a lot of time or resources to make it all happen.

Debbie Johnson relates:

My biggest challenge: lack of resources, too much to do and not enough time to do it all.

As a result, I spend most of my time on tactics when I’d love to spend more of it on strategy and planning.

It’s frustrating.

Lukas Treu agrees:

Because we’ve had a paradigm shift with digital tools letting people get more done more quickly with less investment than was plausible in the past, it makes sense that we’ve seen some marcom budget shrink in the past decade.

But I think the “more with less” mentality has gotten to a point that resources don’t match the demanded results all too often.

There’s a lot of opportunity to make a splash nowadays, but little appetite to invest heavily in marketing.

Action Over Analysis

Normally I end each Big Question with a summary.

A sage, well-wrought conclusion wrapping up our “biggest marketing challenges” conversation with a nice bow.

This week, however, Seán Stickle’s answer says it all, so I’ll leave the last words on the subject to him:

For me, it’s not just that there aren’t enough resources to do everything we want to do—it’s the nature of the mortal world that we have to work within finite constraints.

The biggest challenge facing me (and I believe other marcom professionals) is the stubborn insistence that action take priority over analysis, a fear of missing out that drives frenetic activity and wastes energy.

There’s a saying from the lean manufacturing world that I love: “Don’t just do something! Stand there!”

The idea being that it’s well worth the time to stop taking action and figure out the best way to take action first.

But, like the Furies harassing Orestes, marcom is driven by the evil spirits of “Just do it”.

Up Next: Trouble Sleeping?

I have a recurring dream—a nightmare—that there’s a university course I’ve forgotten to take, and somehow, someway, someone is going to find out. I spend the rest of the dream racking my brain to figure out how I’m going to finish off the credit. 

Weird. I know.

Every industry has its concerns. It’s nightmares. The things they worry about most.

I’m pretty sure a doctor never worries about a website launch, or whether he missed a deadline. A lawyer doesn’t likely have nightmares about a client not paying their bill.

What are the other issues and concerns that can cause anxiety for marketing and communication professionals?

The next Big Question deals with what keeps you up at night:

What are your marketing nightmares?

Crashed or hacked sites? Losing an RFP? Forgetting to wear pants to your virtual meeting?

We want to know!

You can answer here, in our free Slack community, or on the socials (use #SpinSucksQuestion so we can find you).

About Mike Connell


Mike Connell is the director of client services at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. He is also a contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks, the leading source for modern PR training, trends, and insights. Find more of Mike's musings on his blog, Communative . Join the Spin Sucks   community!

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