“😬My boss expects more, but I don’t have time for strategic thinking!”

Dearest Marketing Guru,

I love my job as a marketer because every day presents new challenges. Working in a small team is perfect for me and I’ve been at this job for several years now. Although there are times when it gets stressful and our way of working isn’t always as organized as it should be, these are all challenges that I enjoy tackling. 

Recently, my boss has asked me to shift to a more strategic, long-term vision with our marketing approach. I understand the necessity for this. However, her last minute requests often prevent me from making this shift. She will demand that I drop everything else and work on a presentation for her instead. 

When she asks me to come up with marketing strategies, I feel anxious and overwhelmed. I don’t know where to start and am easily distracted by tasks such as organizing events, writing posts or designing flyers. This makes me feel incompetent and disoriented. 

While I excel at crisis management, strategy development appears too daunting for me to handle right now. 

Marketing Guru, I need your help! Where should I begin? 

Thank you, 


A marketer in need of the Guru’s help

Dear DriftingOnAChoppyOcean, 

Inhale deeply, and give yourself a mental pat on the back for having the gumption to ask for help. Not many marketers have the nerve to admit that they’re feeling lost. It’s not exactly chic to show doubt, so we tend to act like know-it-alls.

Now, there are several things I’d like to share with you. If you were on this yaught with me, first I’d wrap my arms around you and give you a warm hug. Then I’d hand you a glass of delightful rosé and we’d chat about how focusing on the essence is best for marketing and for living.

It sounds like you love your “busy bee” identity, and that is part of your problem. Your other problem is with your boss, but we’ll get to that later. To write a strategic marketing plan, you must let go of your need to stay busy. You have to step away from crisis management and ask yourself: why are we doing all of this?

To get to the ‘why,’ you must first go through the ‘what.’ What is it that you want to do with your marketing? The answer should never be something like ‘Reach people on LinkedIn’ or ‘Build an audience on TikTok.’ Instead, your first step should always be focused on defining what the business needs from its marketing efforts.

You know, this reminds me of a client I had a few years ago. I had already sold my company to the agency (I cannot legally tell you which one) and was just waiting for the time to come when I could cash out my stock in the company. The three years went by so slowly! But I digress.

This lady worked for a B2C brand that had a massive following on Instagram. She had dedicated plenty of time, money and energy into establishing that audience, and everyone within the company saw it as a triumph. Except when it was time to distribute the budgets for the year.

She came to me for help because she was struggling to get the money she felt she needed to keep going on Instagram. She wanted me to help her build a case. She wore golden earrings, which were a little too heavy for her earlobes, and I couldn’t keep my eyes off them. 

“It’s a great success, everyone says so! So why won’t they pay for it,” she inquired as we both sipped on our exorbitantly priced coffee made by the city’s latest, most renowned barista. 

“This coffee really has a strong fruity flavor, almost like tea, don’t you think?” I commented.

She gave me an odd look and shook her head. “I suppose so.”

Before taking another sip from my $9 coffee, I finally voiced what should have been said much earlier. “How does your Instagram account support the success of the business?”.

“We have a huge reach,” she proclaimed proudly. “Hundreds of thousands of people every week!” Her earrings and earlobes bobbed up and down as she spoke.

I simply nodded in response and let silence hang in the air between us. She became increasingly anxious as she looked at me expectantly. After ten seconds, she finally took a sip of her coffee and then frowned.

“I don’t like fruity coffee,” she said, shaking her head. 

Smiling, I took another sip and waited a bit longer. 

My companion put down her cup and looked at me with pleading eyes. “Surely reaching that many people has a positive impact on the business!”

I lifted my shoulders. “It probably does.” 

“Probably?” she repeated.

“Yes, it probably does. But probably won’t get you the budget you need, right?”

“No, it won’t! ” She shook her head. “I need more certainty!”

I looked away from her earlobes and focused on what was happening just outside the window of the coffee bar instead. 

“Your Instagram account is like a beautiful palace standing in a random place,” I mused as I watched a DHL truck pull up. The driver hopped out looking energized and happy to be there.

“What does that mean?” she asked, sounding impatient.

“It’s pretty and everyone loves marveling at it, but nobody knows if it’s useful,” I continued, feeling somewhat philosophical all of a sudden. It might have been the coffee. Maybe it was worth the nine bucks after all?

The reason I’m sharing this with you, dear DriftingOnAChoppyOcean, is that you too have been focusing on randomly built palaces. I know the metaphor isn’t that great, but bear with me for a second, okay? Now let me get to the point.

You need to shut down all these distractions, and you need to stop looking at being busy as proof of productivity. It’s high time you told your boss to make a decision: are you a loyal sidekick who does their bidding or a skilled marketer?

Where to begin with your plan? That is the straightforward part. Decide what the business needs in order to thrive (or survive), then note how marketing your plan will contribute to that objective and then carefully consider what value you have to offer to your clients or customers. 

Of course, there are more steps to take. But if you can leave your busy bee identity behind and focus on the real questions of marketing life, formulating actual, actionable answers, these should get you on the right path. You will also need to involve your boss, which might be tricky.

I’m feeling generous today, so I’ll offer you some extra help: a template. You can use it to get started with your plan. First, work on it by yourself and then later sit down with your boss to see if you two are aligned. If not, make sure she gives you the answers you need. I have a feeling she also needs to learn how to focus on what’s essential.

Good luck! May the sea soon become less choppy for you!

Tools that will change your life

These resources will make your life as a marketer much easier. They’re available for free. (You don’t even have to give me your data because I have no use for it!)

🔒Awareness Funnel Meditation 🙏🏼

🔒Bottom up Budget Template🙏🏼

What does 🔒 mean? It means this resource is locked for now. Don’t worry: you’ll get access to these valuable tools soon enough! 😘

Hi, I’m Angie. I was a brilliant marketing director before cashing out my stocks and retiring (very) early. Now, I answer your questions about marketing so I can feel better about myself while I relax on my yacht and pretend to write my first novel. Hey, at least I’m honest about it! Want to know more about me?

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