Marketing Should Not Be Stressful
Posted by Corey Smith on Sep 14, 2023 8:55:00 AM
I was a teenager the first time I talked to someone that had a marketing degree. I asked him what he could do with that marketing degree and he said, “Pretty much, I’m only qualified for sales.”
Based on that, I decided that I didn’t want a marketing degree because I didn’t want to be in sales. The irony of it all is that my career shifted very early to be in some form of marketing or sales… and selling marketing at that. Though I don’t really consider myself a salesman or marketer, I still consider myself a businessman.
One of my key personality traits is that I am a driver and I love to see things accomplished. If you are familiar with DiSC personality assessments, I fall solidly in the D personality type. That stands for Dominance. If you are curious to learn more about what that means, take a look at this blog post I wrote, titled: The DiSC Personality Profiles at a Glance. It’ll provide you with some insight into what I’m referring to.
What having a D personality type really means is that I have a natural tendency to be very impatient. I want things ‘just so.’ I want to make sure there is a purpose in everything that I do. I’m driven by the next challenge. I take on projects like a squirrel saving for the winter.
As you might imagine, this can create a significant level of stress for those I lead.
A Stressful Environment versus Healthy Pressure
When I started Tribute Media in 2007, I knew I’d be able to accomplish some amazing things. I just had to drive everyone else around me to understand the same thing. Eventually, this created problems in my relationships.
It took me far too long to learn that creating a stressful environment by driving hard is not conducive to creativity. In fact, it actually stifles creativity. When you are stressed, your ability to be creative is significantly hampered.
I get that there are certain times when amazing things can happen on short deadlines. When you are forced to do things, you can come up with some pretty awesome things. But, you’ll never be as great as you can be if you are stressed. There has to be a balance of pressure to fulfill tasks, and yet freedom to be creative in an environment that isn’t overwhelming.
For My Fellow “D” Leaders
Some might ask, “How do you ever get anything done if you aren’t always pushing everyone to get their jobs done?”
To you, my fellow “D”, I say: slow down and find a different approach.
When you stress out your marketing team, you will find that they will never work as effectively as they should or could. If you are expecting 30 hours of productive time, they might give you 20 hours of semi-productive time. They’ll forget their attention to detail and miss important details because they are so focused on production versus quality.
Whether your team is in-house or you have hired an agency like Tribute Media; if your team is stressed (or causing stress), it’s a pretty good indicator that something is wrong.
Identifying Team Stressors
Here are things to watch for in your marketing team (particularly in your team leadership) to identify where the stress might be coming from:
- Missed Deadlines: It’s not possible for every deadline to be hit. But, deadlines should be hit at least 95% of the time. Missing deadlines should be an exception, not a rule. Missed deadlines could be caused by incompetence in the team but usually come down to a project management issue. The most common project management issue is simply not setting proper expectations and setting up teams or team members for failure to meet those expectations in the first place.
- Failed Commitments: This relates well to missed deadlines. The difference here is that simple commitments are missed, such as a follow-up email or call. Maybe a report is incomplete or there are missed details on an assignment. One big difference here compared to missed deadlines is that failed commitments usually result from one person who isn’t following through.
- Communication Issues: I’m a firm believer that over-communication is required to keep people satisfied and productive. People generally don’t do well in the dark. If you ask a question of your marketing team and they take days to respond, it will create stress. If they do something and then don’t tell you they did it, you will be stressed because you just won’t know it’s complete. It’s important to have a regular cadence of communication. Sometimes it’s as simple as an email that says, “Here’s what I’m working on”, “Here’s what I’ve done”, or “I heard what you said and I’m figuring out a solution. I’ll get back to you when I have one.”
- Poor Leadership: Leaders can instill stress in their team when they really don’t understand what type of leader they are. More importantly, when they don’t understand what their team needs in a leader. A good leader will serve his or her team and strive to reduce every stressor that they encounter (as much as is reasonable). This is where a DiSC assessment can come in handy.
- Lack of Competence: This is not the same as a lack of skill. A person with a high degree of competence can learn almost any skill quickly. In marketing (as in web development and many other industries), it’s unreasonable to assume your specialist will understand everything so they will have to learn. That requires competency. If they don’t have competency, they are going to struggle to continue learning and growing as they should.
There are certainly other stressors that can create problems within your marketing team. The bottom line is that if your marketing team is stressed, something is wrong. You just need to figure out what the problem is and solve it.
At the end of the day, your team is going to be happier with their roles, greater contributors to the team, and more productive employees if they are working within a stress-free (not pressure-free) environment. Your job, as their leader, is to help provide that and to help mold the culture of your organization in positive ways.
Written by Corey Smith
Corey Smith is the founder of Tribute Media and serves as the Digital Marketing Strategist. He is also the author of "Do It Right: A CEO's Guide to Web Strategy" and "Tweet It Right: A CEO's Guide to Twitter."