marketing challenge is confusion

Time is not your biggest marketing challenge. Confusion is.

marketing challenge is confusion

What’s your greatest marketing challenge?

What prevents you from doing the marketing you wish you were doing, or what you see others doing?


If only you had the time to do all this writing of content that you’re told is the most powerful form of marketing. Blogs, and emails, and wording for website landing pages. Social media. Presentations, webinars, events.

You’d do it if you had the time. You would! But it’s not there and you can’t envision it being there, and in the meantime you have clients to talk to and projects to finish and prospects to follow up with.

That’s what we all say, anyway.

But it’s not true.

We’re often given the gift of time. A client cancels a meeting, and you’ve just saved two hours of travel time and two hours of the meeting itself, which is four hours of extra time.

But you don’t say, “Excellent! I’ll start writing that blog post!” You open your email or work on that project which has been delayed or set it all aside and go for lunch with a good friend.

I’m as guilty of this as you are. I have a massive list of content that I want to be creating – blog posts on niche marketing, for my upcoming book. Videos about the PF culture and team, for this year’s recruiting needs. Infusionsoft campaigns for different elements of our customer journey.

And yet, so often, I find myself with a spare hour, or several hours, or even a full day. And after I celebrate the extra time win, I fritter it away on emails and chit chat and random bits and pieces that feel productive but have no connecting theme to what I say is important.

It gets done eventually, but only when I’ve dealt with the root issues underneath the Time Lie.

What really prevents you is Confusion.

When you are crystal clear about why you would use your time in that way, and it feels valuable, and you believe it will bring a return, there’s no delay.

There are five areas of Confusion that prevent you from using your time for marketing:

1. Confusion of purpose

Why is it that you’re actually writing this blog post, anyway? What’s the point?

Does it tie into your main marketing strategy, or is it a random idea you had last week?

When you are confused about the purpose of a marketing action, you’re far less likely to take action on it.

Recently we held a training for some of our client managers at PF, and one of the exercises was to “solve an unsolvable problem”. I instantly felt frustrated. Whey even bother trying to solve something if we were told categorically that it could not be solved? (Fortunately my natural stubbornness kicked in here and questioned whether that was true, and we carried on with the exercise with great enthusiasm!)

Marketing can feel like an unsolvable beast. If you’re avoiding a marketing action, ask yourself what the purpose is. Why are you setting up social media accounts? What is this blog post for? How will this video help with your core themes for the year?

If you don’t know the answer to those questions, get them answered first. Work with your marketing team or an agency to be clear on how it all fits together, and what you specifically can contribute to that. Then when you have spare time, you will leap right in: because you know why you’re doing it.

2. Confusion on the return

 Ah, ROI. It’s what we all want in marketing, but we can’t always see how these little things come together to actually deliver a return.

Worst of all, content marketing in particular – which is the practice of educating and inspiring your audience so they trust you and want to buy from you – seems to have a very low obvious return.

“Obvious” being the key word.

You want the return fast. Instantly. Again, I’m as guilty of this as anyone: I’m far more motivated when I record a video and I get lots of comments and shares and even a prospect enquiring about working with us. But that doesn’t mean that every other video I’ve ever recorded is useless.

Address your confusion on return by educating yourself about what content marketing actually is. How it works. What it does, and doesn’t do. Recognise that your one little piece of content is merely a tiny drop in the ocean of content which will, absolutely, deliver in the long run. (Our Marketing Masterclass is a great way to get this education, absolutely free.)

When you know that the return will come (even if it takes longer than you like), you will push yourself to finish that blog post or run that event or record that video, because you’ve learned that they will all build together over time into a massive return.

3. Confusion on your audience

Who, exactly, are you creating this piece of content for? What kind of followers do you really want on social? Who’s going to watch this video?

If you don’t know the answer to that, then those who are watching it won’t, either.

My exclusive niche in accountants helps me overcome this quickly. I don’t have to ask myself who the video is for: I already know it’s for accountants.

But still, I often have to go deeper. Is it for accountants who are already my clients? Those who have never heard of my agency? Accountants who own their own firm, or are thinking of starting one up? The marketing manager at an accountancy firm?

My audience is varied, too. When I ask myself who this piece of content is for, it cuts through the confusion and enables me to start creating it with no delay.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever heard for recording a video is to imagine in your mind one specific person – someone you know, who is exactly the kind of audience you want to watch that video. Then record it, talking specifically to that person. It will be more human, more relevant, and easier.

4. Confusion around the format

Accountants ask me about the various formats that marketing takes. Do we need a PDF guide? Is a landing page important for this particular area? Are Facebook ads really useful?

The answer is that any and every kind of format can be useful – but none of them are to be chosen in exclusion.

All your marketing, in varying formats, works together to build a powerful whole.

You write a series of blog posts, which you then turn into a PDF guide. That guide is linked to a landing page on your website, which is shared on social media and then ads are created to push more people to see the page and take action on it. When someone downloads the guide, they’re taken to a thank you page with a video on it. The video encourages them to join a Facebook group and connect with others like them, and within that Facebook group you share a link to another resource….

You see how it works? The format is not the problem. The message and the audience are what you have to be concerned about.

Get your message right, and be clear on who you’re talking to, and then you can pick as many formats as you like.

5. Confusion about the urgency

Having a deadline – a real one, the kind that if you don’t reach it you look stupid or have diminished your opportunities in future – is the single best way to get marketing done.

I originally wrote this article for XU Magazine, and being a magazine they had a print deadline, and I needed to honour that. It wasn’t my deadline – it’s provided by XU. As it happens, the article wasn’t used for that particular magazine. (I got bumped by all the newest and most exciting Xero apps!) But I still got it written, and it’s published here now. Because I had a date by which it had to be completed.

The problem with most content marketing is that there is often no outside deadline to which you are working. Because all your content needs to work together in tandem, and build a result over time, the best deadline is actually yesterday. Then you feel discouraged that you didn’t do it yesterday, so you never do it.

There are two simple ways to create urgency:

  • Promise your audience – publicly – that the item will be done by a particular date. Send an email, share it on social. You do not want to have to explain that you didn’t do it because you “got busy”. We all know that’s not an excuse.
  • Work with a strategic partner, and use their deadline to push you. Write a guest blog post for someone else, or join forces on an event.

You have all the time in the world.

Address your confusion first: and you’ll be amazed what you can do with the time that you have.