Imagine you’re the only marketer at your company… is that thrilling or terrifying?

I sent out a request to hear people’s experiences being the only marketer at their company. Within hours, my inbox flooded with testimonials from solo marketers all over the country.

If you’re single-handedly running the marketing show at your company, and you’re feeling lost and overwhelmed, let me tell you that you are not the only one.

Here’s a word cloud created from all the responses. Look at the most frequently used word: challenging.

(OK OK I know word clouds are straight up 1995 but LOOK at all those problem words!)

Clearly there are a lot of people out there struggling. Almost every company has a marketing person in some way, but not every company has an organizational infrastructure to support them. And that makes things, well, challenging.

Challenging... but not impossible. Buried in the stories of challenges were some tried and true ways to push through and shine as a solo marketer. 🌟 I learned some great ways to fight imposter syndrome, to organize your crazy workload, and to create a community for yourself. Hope isn’t lost my friends!

You Don’t Have to Do it All Alone

“Don’t try to do it all yourself, it’s impossible to be good at all these different things, you’ll just end up spinning your wheels.” - Zach Hendrix, Co-founder of GreenPal

There is so much expected of a modern marketer.  From social media to copywriting, strategy and analysis, even graphic design - well, you know where I’m going, you can’t do it all. So don’t try to!

Look for help– anywhere you can get it. Are there other internal teams you can lean on? Maybe the product designer can help create ads to go with your new campaign. Maybe the sales team can pitch in with a few customer stories to help with a blog post or two? Or maybe your CEO is surprisingly telegenic and wants to star in a vlog. I bet there are people right under your nose.

And if you can’t pull from internal resources, try to swing a budget. Your company might not be able to make another full-time hire, but could afford a few thousand a month (or quarter) – a fraction of the cost of a full-time hire. If you can use that budget to make yourself more effective, it’s a win-win for the company. You could spend that budget on software to help you move faster (like Buffer or Hubspot), or you could try outsourcing some of your tasks to freelancers. By building a reliable network of freelancers, you have a flexible way to handle all the ups and downs of your business–and still keep it a one-person show.. And of course you could use an on demand service, like Lightboard, that works as an extension of your marketing team ( 👋 boss, see I added the link like you wanted).

Bottom line: don’t try to do it all. Get help from others so you can focus on the things that only you can do.

Learn How to Say No

“When a single marketer is chasing every project that comes across the desk, it’s a clear recipe for burnout.”  - Cathy Hutchison, Director of Marketing/Vice President at Idibri

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m terrible at saying no. When you’re driven by an inherent desire to please people, it’s hard to say no when someone asks for your time. Marketers are especially susceptible to this, because they often work in ambiguous environments.

It’s hard not to lose yourself wondering what IS the single most important thing right now? Is it that new email campaign or the blog post or running those numbers or…?

And since marketing fits in between so many roles... you’re usually the first person people come to with random tasks. I know you’re awesome, but you just can’t do it all. This infographic from SUCCESS Magazine will help you learn when and how to say no at work.

By now, all sorts of bells and whistles are probably going off in your head and you’re thinking “woah now, it’s not as easy as saying ‘no,’ that’s not going to help.” And you’re right. You can’t just say no, you need a reason behind why you can’t take on XYZ project. Here are some things you can have ready ahead of time to show that you have a plan that you need to stick with:

  • Strategic road map
  • Clear reporting structure
  • Daily, weekly, and quarterly schedules
  • Project prioritization list
  • Established goals

Market Internally Too

“Most of your co-workers will have no idea what you do or why marketing is important. One solution to this is to remember to market internally too. Share with the team the value of what you’re doing and especially tell them about new clients, increased visibility, and other marketing wins.” - Beth Bridges, Former VP of Marketing with an I.T. company, Current founder of The Networking Motivator

One of my favorite things we do at Lightboard is a daily stand-up with the whole company. In a room full of designers and developers, I’m often met with blank stares and confused faces when I talk about my projects. But that’s the point.

It's important to have open conversations about the role of marketing in your company. It breaks down any barriers that may be preventing you from getting the job done, and you can show the value of your work. Plus, it puts you in control of setting realistic expectations. Win, win, win. So share with your team what you’re working on, what your goals are, and what setbacks you’ve experienced. Show them why your role is important. That’s pretty powerful.

Wondering how to start those conversations? Here’s some easy ideas:

  • Host a lunch & learn
  • Share major milestones on Slack (or whichever communication tool your company uses)
  • Sign everyone up for your email newsletter
  • Plan team building exercises (here’s how you sell it to your boss).
  • Or even start hanging up everyone’s accomplishments on the office fridge to bring back those memories of coming home with an A+ paper.

Create a Network

“Without having at least one other person to bounce ideas off of, it can be tough to flesh out ideas and priorities.” - Jessica McCune, Marketing Specialist at Sellozo

One of the most difficult things things about being in a department of one is the lack of mentorship. It was one of the most common responses from my interviews, and it hit home.

Feeling alone and confused was the most difficult thing I had to overcome when I entered the professional world. There were (okay, are) so many days when I couldn’t get past that “what the **** am I supposed to be doing” mindset. But I got some really great recommendations on ways to push past this:

  • Go to Meetups - If you don’t have a team at your company, make your own! Attend local meetups to build a network of peers and talk about shared experiences. None near you? Make your own. I promise you aren’t the only one looking for people to chat with, sometimes the world just needs someone willing to take the first plunge.
  • LinkedIn - You probably have a LinkedIn profile for building making connections and ignoring inspirational quotes. But did you know LinkedIn also has interest based groups? You can join an existing one, or create your own. Either way, you can talk to people about your experiences, and (hopefully), they’ll talk back.
  • Apps - LetsLunch, CityHour, and Shapr are just a sampling of popular apps designed to build a professional network. Just like a dating app, you swipe left or right on people you want to chat with. This  may seem odd to some, but I can promise you, it’s catching on quickly. BumbleBiz made headlines earlier this year when Kris Jenner used the app to hire a personal assistant.
  • And when ALL else fails - If you’re the only marketing person in your company but need to bounce some ideas around to organize yourself, try this old software development trick... Buy yourself a rubber ducky (or perhaps this variety set) and talk to it. You heard me, talk to it. The idea behind it is simple, talking out loud allows your brain processes differently, giving you a new point of view on your problem. So next time you’re struggling to decide what the next email in your drip campaign should be, try chatting it out with your new friend. I actually think I’m going to start using this strategy, because I like to talk. A lot.

Did I cover all the challenges you’ve experienced? Of course I didn’t! Want to share your experiences? We can look for a solution for you. Or maybe you just want us to send you a motivational GIF and a message that says we feel your pain. Either way, let’s hear what you have to say. Tweet us @lightboarding!