Friday Five: The stress of marketing

Eighty percent of marketers report being "understaffed and overloaded."
Eighty percent of marketers report being “overloaded and understaffed.”

A new report from project-management software company Workfront suggests what many of us who work in the marketing business have suspected: We are a stressed-out bunch.

As I read over Ad Age‘s coverage of the Workfront report, I found myself nodding in agreement with many of the findings, even as I felt my blood pressure begin to rise. The company surveyed more than 500 marketers for this report. Here are five findings from the Marketers Stress Report and some additional thoughts.

1. We’re overloaded and understaffed

According to the survey, 80 percent of the respondents say they have too much work for too few staff. I would agree. There are never enough people to address the demand for marketing services, counsel and collateral. As digital media has exploded, we struggle to find the right people for these new challenges — or to retrain staff to become digital marketers. But even if you do retrain or cross-train staff, the old ways of marketing — such as print, direct mail or paid advertising — never truly go away. Each new medium becomes another avenue for reaching customers and audiences, and becomes another layer of complexity.

In the academic realm, the decentralized nature of marketing compounds the staffing and workload issue. As I discussed a few weeks ago in my assessment of The Chronicle of Higher Education and SimpsonScarborough higher ed marketing study, it’s tough to manage messaging, identity and other tactical aspects of marketing when so many people doing marketing don’t actually report to the chief marketing officer.

2. Some of us are stressed to the breaking point

One out of four marketers in the study say they are “overly stressed” or “stressed to the max.” I’ve got to admit to feeling like that some days. So learning how to manage the stresses of our work is essential to our long-term success — not only in our chosen careers but, even more important, in our personal lives.

It’s important to maintain balance, folks. Here are a few ideas on how you might be able to do that.

3. Marketing leaders are the most stressed, followed by creative services

Senior managers and management teams reported feeling the highest levels of stress. Joe Staples, the chief marketing officer at Workfront, told AdAge he thinks it’s “because they focus on so many different, fast-moving business elements, ranging from branding and content creation to sales and consumer satisfaction.”

The No. 2 most stressed-out group of marketers are those who work in creative services. I can understand that. As we move to more visual tactics for marketing, the pressure and demand takes a heavy toll on creative teams.

4. PR teams: Not so stressed

As a former PR writer and manager, I was kind of surprised by this finding. Among the five groups of marketing staff surveyed (leadership, creative services, digital marketing, operations and events, and PR and communications), the PR and communications people were the least stressed. That doesn’t mean they experienced no anxiety, but because “their jobs are much more narrowly focused,” according to Staples, they aren’t subject to the same level of angst as other groups.

But as someone who has dealt with my share of crisis communications situations, I can attest that there are times of very high stress for PR teams. Then again, many PR practitioners are former journalists who are used to tight deadlines and get a high from being a part of breaking news. So the high stress of a crisis can also be a thrill ride.

5. For most of us, no regrets

Despite these findings, a whopping 84 percent of marketers surveyed said they don’t regret choosing this career path — “despite the frequently torturous grind,” as AdAge puts it. “The enjoyable parts of the job tend to attract people that tend to like some of those stressful environments,” Staples says. “There’s an adrenaline rush that goes along with that.”

I would agree. On most days.


What are your thoughts on the study? And what aspects of higher ed marketing do you think bring a distinctive set of circumstances that may not be addressed in the findings?

Photo via Wikipedia entry on occupational stress.

Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

2 thoughts on “Friday Five: The stress of marketing”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: