Suffering From Marketing Overwhelm?


Suffering From Marketing Overwhelm?

Are you drowning in marketing ideas and making little progress across all platforms? Should you be pushing social media? Or getting into cross-promotions? What is all for!#%?

It's easy to become overwhelmed by the plethora of marketing activities that these days, often seem compulsory. And the biggest victim is productive time. The time spent researching the variety of on- and offline advertising/ PR/ social media options; deciding which ones are applicable and how much time, energy and budget to invest; monitoring results and ROI -- it can all get too much.

Sort your priorities

What's needed is a method of prioritising your activities. Meaning, many of the activities are worthwhile -- it's just difficult to see how they connect to the business. Inspired by a recent question on SavvySME, this article provides a way to see how it all fits together.

I will assume you've figured out the basics – exactly who your market is, what their problems are and why your solution is the answer. You know what makes you different and why they would want to buy from you rather than anyone else. You have established your Value Proposition and developed your offer. Your image is distinctive and your Central Marketing Message is clearly defined. If you haven't yet grasped what all this means, it could be one reason for your overwhelm. 

Different strokes...

But if you are on top of your basic setup, here is what I give all my service-based clients as a starter system for their marketing. 

Realise your potential customers are all different, requiring different strategies, depending on their relative revenue value. Divide your target market into three levels: Top tier, Middle tier, Bottom tier. 

Your Top tier is defined as fitting your ideal customer profile – identifiable and qualified prospects who offer the highest sales potential. Consider this a long term strategy. Do not expect to make a sale quickly – be prepared to spend time and money with the goal of building relationships over time. Make this group small – no bigger than 25 – so it's easily manageable. And as you establish whether each one is a likely prospect, replace them as you go.

Build the list of key contacts within those firms and then make a cold call. Introduce yourself, determine her needs, follow up. Continue contact appropriately, remembering she may not yet be actively seeking your services. Your tactics may include: emails, direct mail, personal visits, social engagement, educational workshops, demos, meeting over food, trade shows, industry conferences where you share mutual contacts.

Spreading the net

Your Middle tier is defined as also being a good fit – identifiable and qualified prospects but who offer lower sales potential than the top tier. Typically, there a lot of contacts within this group, too many to have a personal relationship with each. And certainly too many to stay in touch with on a regular basis. For these, you develop some form of lead generation program (traditional direct mail is good) to get interested people to raise their hands. 

Once you have this smaller group, you can justify any investment in follow-up activities such as telephone, in-person visits/demos, email and direct mail. 

Covering all bases

Your Bottom Tier is the largest group which is made up of suspects who are NOT initially identifiable or qualified. Unlike the top two tiers, you cannot target this group with any precision because you don’t know who they are. So you help them find you.

Your tactics will include a variety of platforms – speaking, guest blogging, SEO, content marketing (blogs, landing pages, free stuff), social media, paid advertising (Adwords and offline) and PR. The upside is you will attract a decent number of leads at low cost, but the downside is you have no way of knowing how qualified they are. Once qualified, you can build in a lead nurturing program that may include email, direct mail and follow-up phone calls.

This strategy will produce some Top- and Middle-tier prospects as well.  You just won’t know who they are until they identify themselves and you have a chance to qualify them.

What works and why

Certainly remain open to all marketing ideas, as pretty much any on- or offline tactic can work given the right situation. But to reduce overwhelm from trying to cover too many platforms, let the segment dictate your marketing strategy. Then you'll have a specific reason for using your chosen tactic and you'll soon know whether it's working. 

Steve Osborne

director at Stephen Roger Osborne

Marketing, advertising and design consultant with many years experience in small business marketing strategy; brand advertising; packaging and identity design. Expert in developing creative campaigns to attract new prospects for professional and service-based businesses. Deep and broad experience with digital and traditional media channels; sales and general business acumen

Comments (2)
Matt Antonino

Matt Antonino, owner & SEO consultant at High on SEO

Really good and timely article Steve. I just started marketing a new startup and yes, I'm suffering marketing overwhelm. SEO, PPC, Social, email, networking, etc. It's impossible to do everything at once but with experience comes knowledge and you know what you SHOULD be doing, just not enough time to get it all done at once. :)

Lisa Ormenyessy

Lisa Ormenyessy, Business Coach and Marketing Specialist at

Great Article Steve, may I also suggest a tried and true strategy of Time Chunking. Allocate time to do social media, writing (for re purposing), appointments etc. Often shifting priorities is the biggest cause of the feeling of overwhelm. A mindshift to business as a journey and that 'Rome wasn't built in a day' is also helpful.