10 steps to beat marketing overwhelm

Oct 14, 2020 | Blog, Marketing, Mindset

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It’s safe to say that no matter where you are on your marketing journey, it can sometimes get a little (or a lot) overwhelming.

I know that I have experienced it, many times.

A common question we hear from a lot of business owners and marketers is:

“What marketing activity should I focus on? There are so many to choose from.” 

We get it. From social media to SEO, email marketing to outreach, and strategies to Instagram Stories – who wouldn’t find it overwhelming from time to time? As much as you love running your own business, sometimes the thought of marketing it can make you want to run away and hide.

As a small business owner, a marketing plan is just one aspect of your job. But it is a vital one as it allows you to communicate with your ideal customer – so it is important to make sure that you do it well, without being overwhelmed by it. Easier said than done right? 

It’s a pretty hard task to tackle every aspect of your marketing plan at once, and doing that can damage the quality of your output. As always, we are here to help guide you and give you some vital tips to deal with and overcome marketing overwhelm. 

10 simple steps to beating marketing overwhelm

1. Step back and breathe

This might make you want to roll your eyes, but hear us out. Sometimes the general “noise” can make it incredibly hard for you to actually accomplish your goals.

The noise is everything from the little voice in your head telling you you are not doing enough, to the countless emails you have signed up for to help you on your marketing journey, to your competitors actions on their social media channels.

Just. Stop. For a minute.


When you are in overwhelm, the mind races trying to find solutions, your body either tenses up in an effort to get things done or gives up, neither of which are going to help you sort out what you need to be doing to market your business.

So take a moment – relax, calm down and give yourself some mental space. When Julie, the founder of The School of Marketing, feels this way (and trust me, she does sometimes!), she will take a bit of time out, usually about 10 minutes and just sit in an easy chair, close her eyes and just relax, clearing her mind of the mental clutter. After this time, she will usually feel much calmer about everything and ready to take the first next step.

2. Get clear on your goals

What are your marketing goals? You ideally need specific and measurable goals to firm up your marketing plan. 

set goals

This could be something as simples as wanting 10 new customers. That’s great, and a brilliant goal to set yourself, but it is too general. Try being a bit more specific. Change “I want 10 new customers” to “In the next 3 months I want to have 10 new customers.” By giving yourself a time line, and being more specific in your goals, you will not only be able to measure your progress, but you will find it more achievable.

A little focus will help you gather your thoughts.

Rather than thinking about all the things that you need to do to market your business, getting clear on the goals that you are specifically trying to achieve can really help to focus your mind. So when you are putting together your marketing action plan, you can ask yourself, does this get me closer to this goal. Is this activity going to be the thing that is going to make the difference now?

3. Stop thinking you need to be an expert in all things

Look, it’s fine, in fact, more than fine, not to know everything. You have set up your own business and that is no small feat. And now you need to market that business to attract your ideal customers.

But you do not need to be an expert in all things marketing, so please don’t beat yourself up about it.

Marketing is a huge topic and there are so many different aspects to it. Figure out what kind of marketing appeals to you most and what is going to help you to be found by your audience. What kind of outreach and connection do you LIKE to do.

And here’s the thing, if you don’t like doing something but you think it’s an important part of your marketing mix – pay someone else to do it!

Do you like networking (we know that’s a little tough at the moment), writing content, getting on video, analysing statistics and data, creating images and taking photos…

If you don’t have the budget to outsource that activity , then break down the marketing activity into it’s simplest parts. Do your homework, search on Google, watch some YouTube videos, buy a course… and give yourself time to learn the craft of marketing.

You will be surprised by how much you can achieve – particularly when you don’t try to do everything at once!

4. Simplify your marketing plan

Even though you might feel like you need to do all things to market your business, you probably don’t. It’s easy to get caught up in creating a website, creating your emails, creating a lead magnet, planning your social media, posting to social media, writing blog posts, doing videos and so on and so on.

So take a step back… and ask yourself what is going to make the biggest difference now. What is the most direct path to getting new customers and clients? What do they need from me to decide to buy. All of the activities I listed above are important, but are they the most important thing right now? What’s missing in my process.

There are lots of experts out there telling you that you need to do this and do that, but is it really true? For each marketing activity that you have on your list ask

Quite often we see people focusing on activities that don’t really make a difference to their business and then they beat themselves up for not doing that thing. The mental load of this can be exhausting!

So, just start with ‘will this make a difference’. Then ask yourself:

  1. Is this likely to attract my client / customer?
  2. Will this help my client or customer decide to work with me?
  3. Is this the easiest / most direct way for someone to find out what I do?
  4. What else do I need to make it easy for someone to work with me / buy from me

5. Focus on one marketing action a day

This one might make you sigh with relief. Just focus on one marketing action a day. Don’t get lost in the noise and the maze of a million actions. Focus on one, and make it great.

If you are left wondering, which action to tackle, then take a moment to reflect. What action can you do today that will help you tomorrow? Perhaps it is planning out your social media content for the week. Think how great that would feel, to know that for the rest of the week, you don’t have to worry about writing your social media content. Instead, you can focus on engaging with your customers. Remember, most things can be automated and content can be created in bulk and scheduled to your website, social platforms or blog. Taking the time to do this can take away so much stress. 

By doing this one action today, you are focusing on your business for the whole week. 

6. Plan it out

Nothing makes me feel calmer than having a beautiful plan laid out in front of me. Highlighting what to do, when to do it, and how to achieve it. 

Making a plan can take a huge amount of stress and overwhelm off your shoulders, and help you focus on the days or weeks ahead. 

Break your goal down into manageable steps. Just like before, focus on one step at a time. Your goal might look a little something like this:

  1. Think of ideas for a month’s worth of blog posts
  2. Do the research for the posts
  3. Write the text 
  4. Take a step back and start optimising the text and formatting it for SEO
  5. Create the graphics to accompany your posts
  6. Schedule your posts to go live for the month
  7. Pour yourself a cup of tea and relax knowing that you have just planned out, written and scheduled a month’s worth of content!

7. It’s OK to be picky

A surefire recipe for a case of marketing overwhelm is attempting to market your business on every platform available. There are loads of platforms available, and trying to show up everywhere can be a massive waste of your time and resources.

Why? Because your ideal customer isn’t everywhere. And not every platform is for you. Just because 1 in 4 Britons are now using TikTok, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is right for you or your customer. So you can put your dancing shoes away!

Take your time to research and understand your client. Where are they? What platforms do they use? Take your time to understand the difference between all the different platforms available and master your approach before embarking on the next one.

Be picky but be consistent, and leave overwhelm at the door.

8. Be consistent and stick with it

Speaking of being consistent, that goes for your marketing plan too.

One great way to combat the overwhelm is to make time for your plan to be put into action. As a small business owner, you wear so many hats, and making the time to deal with everything you have on, on a daily basis can make you want to stick your head in the sand. 

When it comes to your marketing plan, you need to make time for it – if not, that’s when the stress starts to build.

Grab your diary and schedule time in your calendar. You must make time in order for your plan to work and to see results. Think of the time of day when you are most productive and least distracted. Now add “marketing” into that time of the day, every day, and STICK TO IT! 

9. Do one thing really well 

Do not try and do everything. The marketing list is long and seems to get longer as technology and applications continue to churn out new ways of reaching customers:

  • Websites
  • Blogs
  • Email marketing
  • Social media
  • Post on Medium 
  • Post on LinkedIn
  • Engage with customers
  • Produce podcasts
  • Produce video content
  • Paid ads
  • Collaborations

And this is the tip of the iceberg!

Just remember, you can be effective in your marketing strategy by just doing one or two things extremely well and consistently. Choose which one seems to work the best for your customers, and which one you enjoy doing and go with it. Once you have perfected it, you can move on to the next one. By doing one thing well and often, you can help kiss your overwhelm goodbye. 

10. It’s fine to ask for help

Just like at school, it is fine to ask for help. In fact, sometimes it is necessary to ask for help. Running a business is a massive job, and it is almost impossible to master every aspect single-handedly. 

Think about what parts of your marketing plan you could use a little help with. There are plenty of resources, courses, classes, and webinars available that can help you polish up your skills and learn new ones to push your efforts to the next level. 

Remember – your customer cannot buy from you if they don’t know who you are. This is why marketing is such an important ingredient in your business plan. But if the overwhelm is too much, then you’ll just resent it.

Having a solid marketing plan in place will cut through the stress. Check out our free social media marketing plan to help you create some focus and it can help you see the light at the end of the funnel (marketing puns are also included!) Click here and let’s start planning.

Join the conversation over on Facebook and share in the comments what you do to deal with overwhelm… we’d love to connect with you over there.

Julie Hall

Hey there, I’m Julie.  I’m the founder of The School of Marketing where we help small business owners with their marketing. I also have my own site at Julie Hall Online, where I help experts and coaches to grow their business with online courses and products.


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