Optimize My Brand

Strategy, tactics, ideas and tips from Creative Company.

Have marketing teams reached the Capacity Ceiling?

It’s a symptom of tight budgets and the importance of newer online tactics

I have heard this over and over from clients and potential clients … how everyone in the organization is stretched thin with too much to do–whether they’re an owner, manager, marketing director or in-house communications team leader.

The last few years of tight economy have driven organizations to slash budgets, cut staff and generally do more with less. Add in the explosion of digital marketing technologies and you have a perfect storm of overbooked marketing departments struggling to keep up with the latest opportunities. A Capacity Ceiling.

Stressed BusinesswomanIn higher education, when we talk to the communications department, they often say “we do it all in-house” … but then in the next breath mention how all the digital initiatives are added to their already full workload.

One client tells us, “we love your ideas, but we need to keep the work going that we already have scheduled … we don’t have the resources to begin something new.” I’m supporting them with a retainer for overview, strategy and ongoing marketing planning to help them focus.

Another marketing director I talked to is not happy with her agency of record … and her boss is asking her to do everything with freelancers. She knows that’s going to need more of her time for guidance, oversight and brand consistency. And she knows she can’t do it all and do it well.

Everyone is asked to do more with their in-house resources. A few are able to outsource a piece here and there to a freelancer. Yet each is stressed with the sense there is too much to do and not enough time to think, consider, analyze and plan.

Have you reached your Capacity Ceiling?

Are you there? Are you overwhelmed with deadlines, projects, analytics … and confused by all the buzz around new technologies and channels? Or have you been asked to add digital and online strategies to the already full workload you’re managing? Are you worried that you can’t get sick for a few days without a lot of things falling through the cracks?

I confess, I’ve said out loud, “Please don’t ask me to learn something new! My brain is already full!” Do you feel that way too?

An article in digiday.com discusses how companies are hiring agency pros to work in-house … because they need to have people who are both digital natives and marketing experts on their marketing teams. That is a tough combination to find.

“[Companies] are re-trenching and re-architecting their brand teams and support organizations to build leadership capabilities in the age of content, consumer conversation and engagement,” said Steve Cook, former CMO of Samsung. “I believe that CMOs are looking outside of the traditional brand person profile at people with agency experience, digital and creative in particular, to import skills and accelerate consumer-centric work to build engaging content and conversations.”


Major corporations with larger budgets can afford to find experienced people for the team. But what about a small to mid-sized business? How do you find someone to help sort it out? Or how do you do it yourself, with your team?

Test yourself: symptoms of the Capacity Ceiling

  • The projects keep adding up, with more requests coming in than projects completed
  • Management expects you to do more with less—lower budgets, fewer people—yet deliver more work and better results
  • Errors are showing up … or you have the sense you’re delivering “good enough” work and not what you’re capable of
  • It seems like you’re doing more marketing and getting less response
  • Leadership keeps asking about the latest marketing ideas—social media marketing, content marketing, inbound and mobile marketing … and you don’t know when you’ll have the time to find the answers

So what’s the answer?

I don’t have the ONE answer … but I do have a few suggestions.

1. Carve out the time to test your positioning

Take a step back and check your brand. Good positioning is the place to start. Effective positioning helps you and your team focus on what’s most important to the audiences you must reach … and how you provide what they’re looking for, where they’re looking.

Rather than creating marketing tools and communication pieces “because we’ve always done it that way” … narrow your attention and energy to the areas where your target audiences will choose to take action—at their point of choice. You can leverage what you’re already doing (or drop it), and carefully choose new tactics … not because they’re the latest thing, but because they will connect with your audiences and inspire response, in the channels they’re using.

It will take some initial homework to assess where you are now. But in the long run, a brand audit or marketing blueprint will show you where to focus your time, effort and marketing dollars. And you’ll be more effective with the time, people and budget you have available.

2. Consider hiring a strategist for a fresh look

There are marketers available to give you an objective review and make solid recommendations. This will be more cost-effective in the long run than just jobbing out projects to low-cost freelancers. You’ll have focus and specific actions. Your attention and efforts will make a difference. There will be fewer “rabbit trails” to pursue new ideas.

An added advantage … If you have the type of boss who keeps throwing ideas at you, an outside consultant can help keep you on track. When you respond to a request with, “the consultant told us that doesn’t fit our audience and our market,” it often carries more weight than when you say the same thing. Really!

3. Go back to the basics of branding

Often brands grow and evolve, especially with multiple people working on different applications and frequent changes in marketing staff. The basic visual and verbal brand elements can become confused or messy.

Is the messaging clear? Is there a specific brand promise that resonates? Is there a hierarchy of key messages that target audiences need to know and understand? Are the logo elements treated consistently? What about the color palette? Is it working and broad enough to support the online and offline brand?

They’re simple elements, but they’re also the power behind your brand. If messages are confusing, or visual elements inconsistent, you will lose recognition and damage the brand’s integrity. Providing standards to everyone on the marketing team, whether in-house or freelance, will help manage the brand and build power.

We offer a few worksheets to help

Download these worksheets to help focus your marketing and manage your priorities:

What about a brand audit?

Is it time for a fresh look at your marketing program and your brand integrity? Download our brand audit overview to see what we cover. Then give us a call at 866-363-4433, or drop us an email, to discuss where you would like to go. We’ll give you an objective assessment and guide you to success.

You can use me as a marketing coach, marketing strategist or just a sounding board for your ideas and challenges. I would love to help with your Capacity Ceiling.

Have you found ways to deal with the Capacity Ceiling? What are your recommendations?
Download the brand audit overview

About the author

Jennifer Larsen Morrow

Jennifer's four decades of work in the industry, starting as a designer and adding marketing, copywriting and digital marketing, has generated response for clients since 1978.

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