angry stress-relief ball

Marketers are in big trouble. And it's not because they failed statistics in college and are faking it when it comes to analytics. While that may be the case, apparently, the real red-alarm issue is overwork and stress. They're reaching dangerous levels, according to a new survey.

In total, 60 percent of respondents in a study (pdf) by Workfront claimed to be stressed. One in four marketers overall said that they're "overly stressed" or "stressed to the max." Only 3 percent said "not at all."

High Anxiety

When asked to name the top three reasons for dreading their jobs, about half (51 percent) said it was the workload. Four out of five respondents claim to work in departments that are understaffed and overworked. But tops on that list of reasons for dread (at 55 percent) is having to prove one's worth to people who don't understand what you do.

Now, don't marketers think they're special? That they’re the only ones in the world who are overworked and underresourced? Let them cry us a river, right?

"There are more stressful roles ... test pilot, neurosurgeon ... but the point that the survey shines light on is that marketing has become a very fast-paced work environment," countered Joe Staples, CMO at Workfront, the Lehi, Utah-based software company that specializes in enterprise workforce and project management tools.

When once it was OK to drag out a piece of printed collateral, now digital marketing "feeds the front of the sales engine," he continued.

"If deadlines are missed, there is a ripple effect that can have a substantial negative impact on the business," he said.

Any Solutions?

We did our own informal, completely unstatistical survey of marketing pros, and heard similar sentiments.

Bob Geller, president of Fusion PR and someone who had served in marketing roles with technology companies going back to the 90s, echoed the high stakes due to marketers' "outward facing role." 

Stakes appear highest in the ultra competitive tech space, where marketers can suffer from performance issues.

"In the tech space, marketing teams are often seen as the only reason for a lack of success," reports Chris Riley, tech evangelist at Fixate IO.

Business leaders in the tech space, technical people for whom marketing practices do not resonate, hold up the latest "growth hacking" successes of other tech firms and say, "Why can't you do this for us?" And if that doesn't happen in a quarter or two, look out.

"Overall, I think it comes down to an organizational problem. Marketing teams get in the demand gen trap because of it," Riley says.

So what's the solution for marketers, in tech and elsewhere? Success metrics with a longer term focus, sharing metrics with sales, as Riley suggests? Vision, culture and talent development like Geller suggests? Enterprise wide technology solutions to help organize teams and complete the busy work for them, as Staples suggests (and sells)?

Or for marketers to suck it up like the rest of us?

Let us know, marketers. Are you stressed beyond the breaking point? What can save you?

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by  pat00139