Marketing is essential and the truth is, some of the things you try will work and some won’t. When you have a string of actions that don’t work it can lead to “marketing burnout”. One of the definitions of burnout is fatigue or frustration from devotion to a cause that failed to produce the expected reward. Signs of “marketing burnout” are similar to other types of burnout.
You might feel exhausted and start experiencing some work avoidance behaviors. You might feel disconnected from your passion and even wonder if you are on the right path. It can affect your mood, appetite and even relationships. It’s really uncomfortable to find yourself in this state.
As entrepreneurs, we often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be successful. This can create a sense of urgency. A constant stream of thoughts that come from a place of urgency, gotta get this done today, what if it doesn’t work, I don't have enough time or resources dumps stress hormones into your body. These hormones, cortisol in particular, wreck havoc on your mind and body. And science tells us we have on average 50,000-70,000 thoughts a day, just imagine if a large percentage of those thoughts are triggering stress – holy buckets!
Before you get too alarmed, know that burnout is a normal response to ongoing stress and frustration and there are steps you can take to get back on solid ground and even prevent burnout in the future.
Strategy #1 – Relax
Meditation, mindfulness practices and massages are incredibly helpful but the real key is to learn to relax WHILE you are performing activities.
The stress response comes from an internal alarm that there is a threat of some sort. The alarm sets off a series of reactions that prepare the body to either fight or flee. All of this worked great when we were dealing with lions and tigers and bears but not so much when its in response to deadlines and expectations and internal pressure. A key player in the communication of stress is the vagus nerve. It runs from the roof of your mouth to the back of your head and branches into the thoracic cavity and down the spine to your pelvic region. The cool thing about this nerve is that it has two way communication.
Two ways to relax in the moment:
1. Use a timer set to frequent intervals. When the timer goes off, take a couple of minutes to relax your pelvic area (hips, sitting bones). When you relax/release/soften the core muscles in this area it sends the message up the vagus nerve that there is no threat and the brain can turn off the cortisol.
2. If you are looking at something or someone – even giving a talk on stage, take a moment to widen your peripheral vision and soften your focus. This too can stimulate a relaxation shift.
Strategy # 2 – Aerobic Exercise
You know this one I’m sure. You have heard it over and over that it’s important to get exercise. Exercise helps manage stress, it increases serotonin and gives you a way to work off the stress of a failed marketing campaign. No matter how busy you are – take time for aerobic activity at least 3 times a week.
Strategy #3 Self Compassion & Perspective
Getting mindful of the internal stories, beliefs and expectations that feed the stress machine is critical. I think one of the big internal stories related to marketing burnout is: because my marketing failed – I am a failure. On the heels of that one is: nothing I do will will work, my work isn’t good enough, I should just give it all up. Can you feel the pain and stress and anxiety in these stories?
The first step is to notice the stories. The second is to bring some compassion to them and begin to tease out the fusion between you and your marketing strategies. I know that you are not your marketing and it might take you awhile for you to embrace it too. Get some help from your coach around this if needed.
When it comes to marketing – well actually anything in life – it’s important to get clear about what you can control and what you can’t. Look at your marketing from that perspective and get some input on your expectations. I remember the first time someone I admired really spelled out the numbers in concrete terms (percent of an audience that will sign up for comp session, how many of those will show up and how many will convert) it was a huge aha. I had very unrealistic expectations – it gave me perspective. Get some perspective for yourself.
Strategy #4 Rest and Renewal
To begin to reconnect to your passion, your vision and your value it’s important to take a break and tend to your heart and your spirit. Your body desperately needs a break from the constant cortisol dump. Get plenty of rest, give yourself office hours and stick to them, take a vacation, get out in nature, nurture other interests and do things that 'fill the well'.
Remember – it's temporary!
When you recognize that you are experiencing marketing burnout – be gentle with yourself and create a plan to get back to the heart and soul of who you are. Remember – you are not your marketing. It’s a temporary state. When you are re-grounded, simply try something new and notice what worked and what didn’t. Marketing is after all a grand experiment.
There is abundant research pointing to the benefits of mindfulness including; stress reduction, increased insight and improved memory and focus. Taking mini breaks, especially during times you are really busy can keep you grounded and focused.
Here are three short mindfulness exercises from a deck called Growing Mindful by clinical psychologists Mitch Abblett and Chris Willard.
Place one hand palm up in the other hand. Then place both over your heart. close your eyes. Notice sensations, notice emotions, as you take three breaths.
- The Tree
Stand tall with the confidence of a huge tree. Breathing in, I see myself as a tree… Breathing out, I fee confident and strong….. Repeat for 5 breaths.
- Don't Just Do Something
Sit there, doing nothing, for one full minute. My invitation is to choose a favorite and use it frequently in the coming weeks.