For the longest time I'd stopped running because when I ran I kept getting shin splints and sharp knee pain. The problem? I'd been running only twice a week. But when I started daily interval training, I could run 20-30 minutes every day—without pain.

During one guided workout, my digital trainer coached, "Don't worry that you're only running for 20 minutes. Consistency trumps intensity every time."

Athletic performance research has determined that for weight loss, cardiovascular health, and injury minimization, daily workouts outperform sporadic, higher-intensity training. Those who exercise 30 minutes a day fare better than those who work out only on the weekends. Which explains why so many "weekend warriors" show up in emergency rooms on Sunday nights.

Marketing 'Weekend Warriors'

Marketing teams can fall into the same cycle of intense effort followed by exhaustion and exasperation. Consider these common "marketing weekend warrior" scenarios:

  • Launch warriors focus their time and effort on a new offering, then quickly lose steam a few weeks after the launch—when leads need nurturing.
  • Big-event warriors spend months planning for a big conference and then fail to follow up, engage, and nurture attendees after the event.
  • New-tool warriors get excited about the latest technology stack or app but fail to create enough original content to feed the tools successfully.
  • Content-blitz warriors develop an initial content set but fail to develop new pieces or update content with new information or customer input.
  • Goal warriors aim for transformation that far exceeds what an organization can realistically implement in a short period... and so fall short.

Regarding that last bullet point, in Predictions 2019: Transformation Goes Pragmatic, Forrester details how many organizations had unsuccessful 2018 customer experience (CX) and digital channel campaigns because they set unrealistic goals for the size or maturity of their organization.

And as a consequence of that initial failure, Forrester predicts, 25% of firms will decelerate digital efforts and will lose market share; also, 20% will eliminate CX initiatives in favor of price cuts to attract customers and maintain volumes—which, as we all know, is not a long-term growth strategy.

A Marketing Training Regimen to Avoid Warrior Syndrome

You can take various steps to minimize pain and get on the road to marketing success.

1. Create and implement a marketing training plan

Long-distance runners review a map before the race. Even if you're a startup adopting a lean or guerilla marketing strategy, you should follow a planned outline with an associated budget. If you are an enterprise with mature marketing processes, you'll have a much more detailed plan.

Everyone on the marketing team should understand the high-level business goals of the organization, and Marketing's strategies and objectives should align with the business's.

2. Set a realistic pace

If you set unrealistic cadence expectations for your team's size and budget, marketing burnout is likely to result. For example, instead of trying to launch in multiple verticals at once and spreading a limited budget too thin, become a known brand in one market... then attack on other fronts, with cash flow supporting penetration into other verticals.

3. Ask for help

Top athletes know when to seek physical therapy. Some marketers, though, are afraid to ask their leadership for support, even when management announces an unplanned big event or deadline.

If you will need outsource or temporary assistance for a big product launch, additional show, or user group meeting, let your leadership team know.

4. Hold short meetings on a consistent schedule

Studies show that15 minutes of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) burns more calories than jogging for an hour. The same short-burst approach works for marketing brainstorms. Brief, focused sessions keep everyone on track and engaged. Again, consistency trumps intensity in the most out of muscles and brains.

5. Develop both timely and enduring content

Intervals and sprints have their place in training, but so do longer runs. Without prolonged exercise, you won't properly develop your cardiovascular capacity and muscles for distance races.

Your customers want diverse types of content to digest. Developing content that has longevity, such as an e-book with use cases, will help fill the gaps when you have event blitzes that consume much of your resources.

However, don't rely too long or too often on durable content. Today's fast-paced business environment also requires your company stay relevant with real-time pieces, such as blog posts and product updates.

6. Prepare for big events at least nine months out

You wouldn't start training for a marathon two weeks before the race. Even though exhibit booth space is often the most expensive line item in your marketing budget, many companies start to plan for a significant tradeshow presence only three months before the event.

There is no way you can choose a theme, select messaging channels, line up public relations and analyst interviews, and launch successful booth draw campaigns in such a short time frame. Companies that exceed show goals are those that start planning the next event before the current one ends, especially at shows where prime booth locations are in demand.

For a monthly show planning cadence guide, check out Countdown to HIMSS: The Ultimate Guide to Succeeding at a Massive Trade Show, which details planning steps for a large health technology show; however, the majority of the content applies to any large conference with exhibitors.

* * *

Skip the last-minute blitzes before launches or events. They lead to sloppy work, resource burnout, and ineffective campaigns. Take the time to plan and work on a reasonable schedule to keep your marketing team at the top of their game for creativity and effectiveness.

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Market Like an Athlete, Not a Weekend Warrior: How to Avoid Ineffective Campaigns and Burnout

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image of Christine Slocumb

Christine Slocumb is the president of Clarity Quest Marketing a marketing agency that grows healthcare, technology, and biotech companies.

Twitter: @CSlocumb

LinkedIn: Christine Slocumb