Why marketers are more likely to face stress and burnout

Peter Desmyttere
January 17, 2021
⏱ 5 min. read

The marketing profession is more exciting than ever, thanks to the many new (digital) techniques marketers are given to communicate with customers and prospects. However, there is a flip side to the coin.

Whereas in the last 20 years of the last century the marketing manager was primarily concerned with orderly advertising campaigns and media planning, in the last 20 years so many stimuli from a variety of digital media have come at us that the risk of overload and associated stress is greater than before.

Exhausted, drained, empty

The terms stress and burnout are no longer absent from the media. As consultants to marketers, we are in the front row every day when it comes to the continuous load and difficult organization within marketing departments. It is really striking how the number of marketers with stress and burnout is increasing. While the two do not mean the same thing, they are inextricably linked. A persistent excess of stress can lead to burnout where one feels burned out, drained, exhausted and empty.

In this article, I want to provide five causes of stress and burnout in marketing departments, written from my personal experiences with marketers and marketing teams. Finally, I would like to call upon marketers who are struggling with stress and/or burn-out to testify (anonymously). In this way we can learn from each other how burn-out within marketing departments can be combated.

Reason #1: Poor (self-) organization

I believe marketers are more likely to experience burnout for a number of reasons. The first reason is the fact that no two days will ever be the same for a marketing manager.

The idea sounds very attractive for anyone who’s looking for a job with variety and is featured as a big plus in most job offers for marketing managers. But anyone who will be able to cope with such varied projects, tasks, campaigns, strategy, budget and goals needs to be highly organized.

A recent study unsurprisingly showed that 4 out of 5 marketers are not satisfied with their current workflow. The same group identifies the absence of overview as the number one challenge in their job.

Poor (self-)organization inevitably leads to stress and could eventually become a one-way ticket to burnout. This is especially true if you’re a marketer and

  • are overtaken by events
  • are so focused on operational work that you very often lose track of the bigger picture
  • are losing control of your projects
  • your work isn’t getting the recognition and rewards you would expect it to get
From my experience, I've seen a lot of marketing managers who dedicated decades of their career to building a brand. And although they are very successful, it has become unsustainable to keep up with their work using a structure they've built back in the eighties. Modern marketers can no longer succeed with an office full of post-its and tens of Excel files on an overloaded server. Working in an environment without a clear structure also causes a lot of stress for marketers.

The answer? More staff and management meetings, better team classification or job switch. Using a digital organization tool can also help you structure your marketing work and transform it into a lean and mean marketing machine in no time.

Reason #2: Too much ad-hoc work

Most marketers are creative doers driven by spontaneous inspiration and ad hoc actions with immediate result. But working like that does put a lot of pressure on a marketer’s self-organization and on the structure of the entire team.

Every single article about time management will tell you that working according to a plan reduces stress. Rushing through a never-ending list of to-dos is not making you any more efficient, though. It’s better to start the day with a focused task list and let only a couple of ad hoc actions interrupt you.  

Reason #3: Never-ceasing social media triggers

It is not surprising that social media are often associated with stress. The constant triggers and notifications from Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Pinterest or Messenger make it hard for anyone to find peace of mind. This is even truer for marketers as they are on social media for both private and professional communication.  

Reason #4: Few (direct) communication

Chat apps like Teams, Slack, Yammer, Workplace (by Facebook), Voxer, Instantbird or Pie are great for instant communication with colleagues within the same marketing team. Instant chat notifications can, however, be a curse. They make you lose focus, get in the way of your work and might even make you miss your deadlines — which again, causes a lot of stress. In the long run, these constant interruptions could impact on the efficiency and serenity of your marketing team.

I’m always surprised to see how seldom marketers have structured consultations. They send tons of emails and instant messages but get frustrated because they hardly ever discuss issues face-to-face with colleagues and managers. The complexity and dynamics of a marketing environment call for systematic consultations like a marketing meeting on Monday morning, for instance.

Reason #5: No clear goals

Marketers could learn a lot from professional athletes and sports teams: they are extremely focussed on a very precise goal and have their entire entourage on the same wavelength.  In most marketing teams, however,  things are not that simple: everyone has their own planning, marketing campaigns overlap and there is no overall vision.

The first step to success is setting goals. What do we want to achieve as a marketing team this year? What are the primary and secondary goals? Make sure you can answer these question 

Only marketers who can provide sharp and detailed answers to these questions provide a breeding ground for measurable success. If those objectives are clear to everyone in the marketing department, if they are agreed on by everyone and they become tangible thanks to a results dashboard, you get a marketing department where everyone looks in the same direction. Or where stress and burnout are overshadowed by stimulating group dynamics.

Prevention is better than cure

Do these burnout triggers sound familiar? Does your company struggle with similar problems? Here’s what you can do right now:

  • Make sure the right person is in the right place 
  • Start using an organization tool or a project management tool
  • Plan your work through projects and tasks
  • Balance and structure your social media work
  • Try discussing things face-to-face for a change
  • Set clear goals and define a strategy to meet those goals


Was this article relevant to you and do or did you feel stressed-out / burnt-out as a marketer? I’d like to hear what your biggest challenges were and how you managed to overcome this difficult period. Email me at pds@huskymarketingplanner.com. I’ll be using your first name only and won’t refer to your company to respect your privacy.

Do you also want to work more efficiently and avoid organizational stress?

Would you like to know why using a digital tool can significantly reduce stress and the risk of burnout?

Start a free trial or book a demo today. We would love to help you out!