Is this why your project is stuck?

Last month, I wrote about uncertainty being the new normal in our world of work, and how we can embrace that uncertainty and use it as a way to move forward.

So many of my clients are dealing with uncertainty on a daily basis—and it’s more prevalent now than I’ve ever known it to be. But they’re so close to it they don’t always see it for what it is. All they know is they’ve identified a problem and see marketing as the cure. But they need someone who will do more than blindly fill that prescription. Before anything else, they need an accurate diagnosis.  

how companies get it wrong

  • Small to mid-size organizations are often filled with people who wear many hats. They are so bogged down in the day-to-day of keeping all of the wheels turning, there is little opportunity to get off the merry-go-round and examine the big picture.
  • Large organizations can be prone to settling into siloed teams and departments. They don’t know what each other is doing, resulting in duplicate, conflicting or simply wasted efforts.
  • Organizations of all sizes may want something different, but many times have no strategy to make it happen. Or when they do, their action plan is based on hunches or gut feelings with no solid data to back it up.
  • At the other end of the spectrum are the organizations that have so MUCH information they can’t process it. They struggle to identify what is actionable, often seek even more information, and ultimately, fail to act.
  • And sometimes an organization becomes stymied with indecision because people may be so emotionally, financially or politically invested in a specific course of action that they need an outside perspective from a third party who can be more objective.  

here’s a real-life example

A new client is unhappy with their current online presence. They hate their website, and their customers hate it, too. The client comes with a request for a (purely aesthetic) facelift, thinking it will solve their problem. After asking some basic questions about the objectives for the redesign, however, it quickly became clear there was no consensus on the client side concerning what they wanted to achieve. No one really had any idea what their goals were for the site, who their audience was, or what was important to those very important people. The real problem had little to do with what the website looked like, and everything to do with the fact that there was no strategy to inform what should be on the site.

how to get it right

It’s oh-so-tempting to jump in and start “fixing” things before we know what is truly broken. This is usually because the problem has been allowed to fester unchecked for too long, and now the pressure is on to produce different results. Trust me, though—the wrong solution applied to the wrong problem is not going to fix anything.

Getting the right diagnosis involves talking to someone (like me) who knows what questions to ask, listens closely to your responses, recognizes when things don’t quite add up, and dives deeper to get to the heart of the problem. My goal is to understand what’s really going on in your organization so I can prescribe the right solution, rather than blindly accepting your self-diagnosis as a scope of work.

Here’s the benefit:

  1. It forces you out of the habit trap (doing the same thing while expecting different results).
  2. It helps identify and remove obstacles that leave organizations stuck in stalled projects.
  3. It forces you out of analysis paralysis, providing the additional information and confidence that is often needed to take action.

If any of this rings true and you’re feeling stuck, need an outside perspective, or want a second opinion on your self-diagnosis, let’s talk! Together we can identify the right solution and get you moving forward again.

How do you measure up?

we marketers are a critical bunch.

With our industry evolving at a breakneck pace, being a marketer is tougher than ever before. And we’re hard on ourselves about it.

A survey conducted by e-mail marketing company Emma asked marketing professionals how often they meet work expectations:

88 percent say they meet expectations “occasionally”, “rarely” or “never.”

Now, it’s unclear whether these expectations are set by the marketers themselves or they’re sent down from above—but from where I sit it doesn’t matter. Regardless of who holds the measuring stick, when you’re a “pleaser” like me, it’s a big morale buster to go home each night feeling like you’re falling shy of the mark. Continue reading

When you don’t have all the answers

I’ve had more than one client come to me in a state of overwhelm about a big project. “I’m not even sure yet what I need you to do for me. I just know I need help,” they said. We could have gone ‘round and ‘round trying to define a very specific scope of work, but the reality is that we couldn’t, because we didn’t know what we didn’t know. 

guess what? you can still take the first step.

Here are two ways you can move your project forward, even when you’re not sure exactly what that final product should look like. They worked for me, and got two new projects (with two new clients) up and running in no time.  Continue reading

3 marketing tasks to trust to pros


In recent years there’s been an explosion of online marketing tools, virtual assistants, and other low-cost marketing options. They all claim to make marketing easier, either by doing it for you or making it easy to manage yourself.

These “do-it-yourself” or “do it cheap” resources regularly wreak havoc on organizations that don’t have the time or skills to do marketing work internally. It’s bad enough when marketing doesn’t get done as a result, but even worse when it gets done wrong. Either way, it’s expensive and time-consuming to fix. Continue reading

Do you need a check-in-free vacation?


When’s the last time you took a real vacation? One when you weren’t constantly checking in just to “stay on top of things” while you were away from work?

When’s the last time you felt like you finished everything that you wanted or needed to?

When’s the last time you felt caught up enough to focus on the big-picture aspects of your job instead of the day-to-day trench work? Continue reading

Do you ever wish you had a stunt double?


I’m doubling right now for a new client. She’s an agency owner who was so busy she couldn’t find time to focus on the tasks only she can do, like landing more of the high level projects she really wants.

So I’m helping with the things she doesn’t need to be doing, like:

  • being a liaison between contractors, my client, and my client’s client;
  • ensuring our team stays on schedule and meets milestone delivery dates; and,
  • keeping copious notes as the project unfolds with multiple twists and turns, making necessary adjustments, and ensuring everyone stays on the same page.

I even stood in for my client so she could take a real vacation for four weeks, more than 4,000 miles from home, and not feel like she needed to constantly check in.

Continue reading

You don’t have to do it all yourself

Hand tasks off to someone who can keep things moving for youWhen you constantly find yourself with more demands than you have time to satisfy, the best solution is to delegate some of those projects to a trusted partner. Ideally, you want to hand stuff off to someone who can keep things moving and make the kind of decisions you would make, without coming back to you with questions every fifteen minutes.

But how do you decide what to delegate to a contracted project manager, and what to keep in-house? Here are five signs it’s time to let go and trust someone else to get the project done: Continue reading

Make marketing economical by scaling partnerships as you grow

Whether you’re a new startup or an established company that’s been in business for years, there will probably come a time when you want some outside help telling your story. One of the most cost-effective ways to get the job done is to find a virtual team member with the flexibility to adapt to your needs as your organization grows and changes.

Your virtual partner could be a talented freelancer or a small agency, bringing valuable expertise to the table at a more economical cost than big agency rates. Continue reading