I’m having one of those days. You know – the kind where you walk in circles and still manage to get lost, where you stare at the same paragraph on the screen for minutes at a time without anything registering in your brain.

Marketing Overwhelm
It happens. Even to those of us who voluntarily swim in the sometimes murky, often shark-infested waters of marketing. And, if we can be reduced to babbling idiots, just imagine what can happen to the uninitiated. I work with a lot of solo entrepreneurs. They can’t delegate to a marketing department. As a result marketing overwhelm sets in pretty fast

Today, marketing moves at the speed of pixels. Everything is instantaneous. The demand for content and interaction is insatiable. We are made to feel like we need to produce more and more and more, faster and faster and faster. Because if we don’t get something out there – now, tomorrow, and the day after that – someone else will slide between us and our prospects and we might lose the sale.

Adding to the pressure of massive quantity and frenetic frequency are the continuous changes in the technology and third party platforms. As Mark W. Schaefer recently posted, social marketing is a practice that doesn’t stand still for long. (He posits that social is one of the few emerging technologies that won’t be absorbed into existing business structures because the ever-present learning curve makes it more cost effective to outsource to specialists.)

So, how do you stay sane?

Priorities, Planning, and Being Present
First things first. If you’re already on the loop-the-loop, it’s going to be hard to step back for a reality check. It’s going to be hard, but it has to be done. There are only so many hours in a day. If you’re spending all your time just running to keep up, you’ll never give yourself the chance to see if you’re actually heading in the right direction.

Priorities
Start by making time for your business. I don’t mean time for sales calls, customer service, maintenance, or any one of dozens of marketing initiatives. Those are all pieces of your machine, but they are not your business. Your business is the product or service that you provide. Don’t get caught up thinking that everything you do to market yourself is your business. It isn’t. So, step away from the roller coaster and schedule some time to do some Big Picture Thinking. Free yourself from the daily details & you might find that it’s easier to see the important things for what they are.

Planning
Once you’ve figured out what’s truly important to your business, it’s time to create a plan that helps you take care of those important things. Maybe you’ve decided that building your list is critical – then only tackle list building tasks. Maybe you realized that the key to your success lies in connecting more deeply with your existing customers – focus on creating customer retention programs. Or, maybe, your Big Picture is less about marketing right now, and more about improving your product. Fine. Do that.

Being Present
The trickiest part is staying focused on the planned priorities. With all the noise flying around – inside and outside of our heads and offices – it’s easy to get pulled right back onto that stomach-flipping roller coaster. There will always be some shiny new toy beckoning, promising unprecedented engagement and ROI. Don’t get distracted. Pay attention to the task at hand. Pay attention to the path you’re on. Pay attention to doing the best job you can at the work that’s right in front of you.

But …
There’s always a “but,” right? Of course there is.
But I need to keep up with my competition. But I need to stay up-to-date on the latest, greatest social widget. But I need to be everywhere at once. But I need to deliver more content than the guy next door.

No, you don’t.
You need to do what you do and you need to do it well.
And then you need to be smart and strategic about how you divide your energy between your work and marketing your work.
If the work is good and the marketing is focused, you’ll get there, and – when you do – the victory will be a long-lasting one.

Do you ever suffer from marketing overwhelm? Have you recovered? If so, how?

Photo Image: MeHere