Where does stress come from? Lack of alignment

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Marketing stresses everyone, but it stresses everyone differently. The 1st step to relieving that stress is understanding where it's coming from.

Does marketing stress you out? You’re not alone.

Last December, a client asked me to be on her podcast to discuss reducing stress and increasing efficiency in marketing. It’s no surprise that I said yes. What is surprising is Lewis Carrol rabbit hole my research took me down.

I started with the obvious: sources of stress. If you spend more than 2 seconds thinking about that, it’s clear that the sources of stress are nearly infinite. I had to pull back and look for patterns.

And I found one: alignment.

The Sir Mix-a-Lot Theory of Misalignment

What is misalignment? Per Lexico, misalignment is “The incorrect arrangement or position of something in relation to something else”.

Lexico? Why not Merriam-Webster? Because Lexico includes a key phrase: “in relation to something else”.

The basic pattern looked like a psychotherapy “I statement”. (These might be things you’ve actually said.)

I want to do more marketing… but I don’t know how… but I don’t have time… but I haven’t gotten good results in the past.

I built a website… but it isn’t getting traffic… but it isn’t generating leads… but it’s too much work to maintain.

I signed up for social media… but I don’t understand it… but I don’t like it… but I don’t know what to do.

The pattern is that they all have a big ol’ but (1 “T”, not 2). Do you see the misalignment? The pattern is simple. It starts with what the person did or expect, then there’s the “but” followed by what’s causing stress.

Here’s an example that should cement your appreciation for the power of misalignment. Do you drink coffee? Ever grab your cup of wonderfully hot coffee, take a gulp, and nearly spit it out when your mouth fills with cold coffee? I’ve done it.

It isn’t that cold coffee is necessarily bad. I love cold coffee. But it wasn’t what you were expecting.

The 4 alignments

With the pattern in mind, I started digging for marketing complaints and stressors. They quickly fell into 4 groups.

Alignment 1: The alignment of Belief

These are the alignments of heart and head. Alignments of values, goals, priorities, and expectations are in this category.

Alignment 2: The alignment of Means

Resources, we never have enough. There’s never enough time, money, energy, or know-how to do everything we’d like to do.

Alignment 3: The alignment of Communication

This group of alignments is about getting your message to the right person and ensuring that it is understood and makes an impact.

Alignment 4: The alignment of Solution

This alignment is talked about frequently. There’s a good chance you’ve heard of “Product/Market Alignment” or “Product/Market Fit”. Does your solution actually solve the problem it’s designed to fix?

Your homework

I’ll be digging deeper into each of these alignments in my next articles. In the meantime, start looking for your stressors. Start finding those “I statements”.

Identifying your stressors is only 1 step of many, but it is the first step.


For any hip-hop loving readers: Yes, LL Cool J did Big Ole Butt. But Sir Mix-a-Lot loves big butts and these but’s are huge.

Featured image by Jon Flobrant

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