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3 Strategies To Help Navigate Work Grief and Burnout



3 Strategies To Help Navigate Work Grief and Burnout

For over three years, people have carried a crushing burden of unprocessed grief while enduring a withering barrage of change at work. It’s a many-sided issue with no clear cause or fix.

But the result is that content marketers are burnt the font out.

Today, I’ll share the stories of folks who are going through it – and some who’ve emerged on the other side. The sooner you make these changes to your work environment, the better because mental unhealth can cause physical ailments. And if you can’t stop overworking, eventually, overworking will stop you. And nobody, no matter how creative, does useful content marketing when logging in from the hospital. (True story.)

Nobody – no matter how creative – does useful #ContentMarketing when logging in from the hospital, says @cgillespie317 via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Content stress stories often begin with the loss of a leader

In interviewing seven individuals for this article, one theme emerged: Content teams’ wellness declines the moment they lose a leader.

The leader doesn’t just leave behind a hole – they leave an open door that anyone in the company can stroll through and make demands. It also leaves that team exposed to well-intentioned but taxing (or nonsensical) requests from higher-ups. If those higher-ups don’t feel the team is working fast enough, they may micromanage them and increase the burden.

A leader’s departure leaves the team exposed to higher-ups who may micromanage and increase its burdens, says @cgillespie317 via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Content marketer Dominika Stankiewicz says when her marketing leader left, things grew chaotic. “Our manager was pretty much Ted Lasso. Everything was fantastic,” she says. “But when he left, all hell broke loose. We lost our guiding light. There was no more vision, just pressure from all sides to not only keep up but to increase performance.”

Another content marketer, who wants to remain anonymous, had a similar experience. “When our VP left, we lost our layer of defense,” she recalls. “Now nobody’s there to filter.”

Both of these content marketers grew unwell as a result of the stress. Dominika developed a body rash so intense she and her coworkers could play tic-tac-toe on the back of her hand, which should give you a sense of her humor and resilience. She developed allergies to metals, foods, and makeup, and everything itched. She stuck it out for a long time, but once she quit, the rash disappeared. One year later, it has not returned.

“The greatest gift a content leader can give her team is focus,” explains Sonja Jacob, director of content marketing at athenahealth. “Whether that comes via the goals you set for the work, the space to do it in, or both, the recipe for success on content teams is narrowing the aperture on what qualifies as ‘work.’ This will give your team the ability to focus on – and deliver – what’s critical to business success.”

But when you lose that leader? You have to build those boundaries on your own.

1. Build polite but firm boundaries

What can you do when your team’s protective shield disappears? First off, understand what the person you now report to seeks to achieve. Present your content expertise in terms of supporting those goals. If they want sales, explain your effect upon sales enablement. If marketing awareness is the goal, share how you build audiences.

Find out what the person you report to wants to achieve and present your expertise in those terms, says @cgillespie317 via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

If they understand how your work supports their mission, you can say you need guardrails to ensure you aren’t overstretched. For them to get what they need, they have to shield you.

Ask for their help in setting boundaries:

  • Make a list of what you do and do not do.
  • Set response times and working hours.
  • Create a content request form and use it.
  • Require a content brief (or similar).
  • Manage a public backlog of projects so others are aware.
  • Grant access to your project board so they don’t ask for updates.
  • Be proactive so people don’t feel compelled to check in.

And because those leaders are probably under pressure right now and inclined toward rush requests, reply with options. Say, “To start this new thing, which existing thing should I pause to accommodate it?” This gently reminds them of your capacity and invites them to do the rearranging.

And, if you’ve got all the above handled, investigate how to achieve more with less. For example, that anonymous content marketer has been investigating how she can incorporate generative AI and making a case for that investment in terms of her boss’ goals.

2. Sustain your creativity to prove your value

Right now, you may not have the option to simply switch jobs. They have grown scarce. Countless qualified marketers have joined the “double layoff” club, and most are making the best of the job they’ve got, as Nia Balbo, Ashley Dyment, and Jeremy Hunt share in their LinkedIn posts.

If that’s the case for you, worry not. There’s a lot you can do.

That anonymous content marketer, for example, is committed to staying in place because prior to her current role, she was part of a large layoff. Then, she went through a long hiring process just to have the offer rescinded. “Basically, my mortgage requires me to stay,” she says with a laugh.

That’s why she’s so committed to protecting her mental health and seeking help. “I think everyone should see a therapist,” she says. “I’m not embarrassed about that. I think everyone should see one.”

You can also guard your creative time by placing recurring “focused work” blocks on your calendar and insisting on working some days from home. Research from the University of Chicago, Stanford, and Microsoft suggests workers are more productive in their own environment, free from distraction – 8.9% more productive by some measures.

If you can set aside some days for all the calls, meetings, and status updates, you can leave other at-home days for deep work.

Consider these additional ideas:

  • Defend your work hours (no nights and weekends).
  • Carve out daily time for things you enjoy, like reading or music.
  • Commit to recurring physical exercise.
  • Use all your allowable leave (and make a coverage plan now).
  • Consider taking an unpaid vacation if it provides a true reset.

Of course, you may not be able to fully control your environment, and you shouldn’t blame yourself.

3. Organize chaos to eliminate needless tasks

As teams and priorities shift, content marketers are being asked to wear three, five, or seven hats, which, as my colleague, Fenwick writer and strategist Donnique Williams, points out, “is as weird as it sounds. Just think about that. Visually.”

Talk with your peers about what they are experiencing. “Everybody’s trying to do 10 different jobs,” says Kristin Hillery, director of content and brand at the AI conversation design startup Voiceflow. “And on the back of that, I don’t think people are acknowledging what’s going on in each others’ personal lives. Maybe it feels inappropriate. But I think that shared understanding helps.”

You may find your peers are burned out, too, and you can work together to improve how you work.

For example, consider diagramming your content marketing operations end to end. Tweak it to eliminate needless tasks by asking:

  • Must so many approvers be on this email chain?
  • Must so many sequential steps be documented?
  • Must the design team always build from scratch?
  • Must the brand always promote across all these channels?
  • Can we write pieces in batches far in advance?
  • Can we set any of these programs to run autonomously?
  • Can we lean more on any partners to do the promoting?

These questions may lead you to find, like we have, that companies tend to involve far more reviewers than are necessary. We helped one client kindly evict the PR and legal teams from reviewing articles. Instead, they each provide a one-page policy with their guidance. It saves everyone time.

Where can you make similar no-regret cutbacks?

And similarly, where can you cut unnecessary chatter, especially outside of work? “We all know at this point that Slack has a feature that allows you to schedule messages during work hours,” says Kristin. “Set an example by using that and silencing notifications after work. If you’re working all hours, it suggests others should too, and that’s bad for everybody.”

How to find your stride after being let go

This leads me to my most egregious story.

As the pandemic began, the software company hit hyperscale. Overnight, it was a household name. Overnight, a woman on the marketing team was asked to work seven days a week and transition to PR crisis communication. It started to affect her health, and then she learned she was pregnant.

“I didn’t want to tell my managers, who were already unsupportive of anyone taking time away, because what was the point?” she recalls. Her health failed. At a routine checkup, she was admitted to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with a condition that has a 37% mortality rate for mother and child. Weeks later, she gave birth prematurely. The cause of her illness, according to her doctor, was work stress.

When she returned to work after maternity leave and additional unpaid time off to care for her son, who “has a long road ahead,” the company laid her off.

Suffice it to say, it’s rough out there. Companies have fired a half million workers this year, many of them in marketing. When Disney fired 3% of staff, it was mostly from its demand-and-marketing division.

How do you re-find your confidence after what, for many, is an emotional moment of reckoning? Here are a few tips:

1. Remember your personal value has nothing to do with work

The new mom bounced right back and found a new job. “At the end of the day, it’s a numbers game,” she says. “I’m a professional. I loved my team, and I’ll continue to do good work.”

Similarly, Greg Cooper, a creative director, says, “Know it’s just about the company’s bottom line.”

If you’re having trouble maintaining this distinction, ask friends and family who can reflect your value back to you.

2. Use what you’ve learned to apply to the next role

“Ask yourself, ‘How has the layoff increased my wisdom of the field?’” says Cody Lucas, a creative producer. “Layoffs happen at every company. Try to understand why your role might not have been a critical asset.” In which case, the layoff wasn’t personal. It was business, and you now understand this type of business better. That helps you tell a better story in your interviews.

3. If it’s a group layoff, stay in touch and work as a team

“I’ve been through two layoffs as an entire team, and both times, my former coworkers have helped me pick up the pieces,” says Kathryn Casna, a writer and editor. “You have a ready-made job hunt mastermind group.” Trade ideas, support, and links to jobs you know they’d be a fit for.

4. Keep moving and working on something

Take your time and process the change, but don’t stop moving, advises Michael Fasciano, a brand and content leader. “Get back into the things you’re most passionate about. Exercise, read, learn, or start new projects. This keeps you focused, gives you something to talk about, and momentum builds momentum.”

5. Ask your friends in the human resources space for advice

Nobody’s better at advising on your resume than people who do it for a living. Ask for a resume makeover. Get practice telling your story and having someone repeat it back to you. Begin your job search with the warmest introductions, and let your network know you’re looking. People want to help more than you’d think, and LinkedIn’s green #OpenToWork badge has become a sign of confident vulnerability.

The only emergencies are the ones we create

One of our firm’s principles is “No marketing emergencies.” Behind almost every deadline is an arbitrary date that someone forgot to question, and if higher-ups are shown how it impacts their team’s physical and mental well-being, they’ll happily change it.

Plus, work just isn’t worth burning out over.

“Try explaining your job to an ER doctor, as I have, and you’ll see their eyes glaze over,” Kristin says with a laugh.

This is not to say our work is not important – it is vital – only that your health comes first. You deserve to live a fulfilling work life that doesn’t impact your personal life and offers you space and time to be creative. That creativity is what the company hired you for in the first place.

You can safeguard it by creating boundaries to deal with the loss of a leader, carving out time to do what gives you joy, simplifying your content workflow, and remembering that none of this affects your personal value.


Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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Take back your ROI by owning your data



Treasure Data 800x450

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Other brands can copy your style, tone and strategy — but they can’t copy your data.

Your data is your competitive advantage in an environment where enterprises are working to grab market share by designing can’t-miss, always-on customer experiences. Your marketing tech stack enables those experiences. 

Join ActionIQ and Snowplow to learn the value of composing your stack – decoupling the data collection and activation layers to drive more intelligent targeting.

Register and attend “Maximizing Marketing ROI With a Composable Stack: Separating Reality from Fallacy,” presented by Snowplow and ActionIQ.

Click here to view more MarTech webinars.

About the author

Cynthia RamsaranCynthia Ramsaran

Cynthia Ramsaran is director of custom content at Third Door Media, publishers of Search Engine Land and MarTech. A multi-channel storyteller with over two decades of editorial/content marketing experience, Cynthia’s expertise spans the marketing, technology, finance, manufacturing and gaming industries. She was a writer/producer for and produced thought leadership for KPMG. Cynthia hails from Queens, NY and earned her Bachelor’s and MBA from St. John’s University.

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Revolutionizing Auto Retail: The Game-Changing Partnership Between Amazon and Hyundai



Revolutionizing Auto Retail: The Game-Changing Partnership Between Amazon and Hyundai

Revolutionizing Auto Retail The Game Changing Partnership Between Amazon and Hyundai

In a groundbreaking alliance, Amazon and Hyundai have joined forces to reshape the automotive landscape, promising a revolutionary shift in how we buy, drive, and experience cars.

Imagine browsing for your dream car on Amazon, with the option to seamlessly purchase, pick up, or have it delivered—all within the familiar confines of the world’s largest online marketplace. Buckle up as we explore the potential impact of this monumental partnership and the transformation it heralds for the future of auto retail.

Driving Change Through Amazon’s Auto Revolution

Consider “Josh”, a tech-savvy professional with an affinity for efficiency. Faced with the tedious process of purchasing a new car, he stumbled upon Amazon’s automotive section. Intrigued by the prospect of a one-stop shopping experience, Josh decided to explore the Amazon-Hyundai collaboration.

The result?

A hassle-free online car purchase, personalized to his preferences, and delivered to his doorstep. Josh’s story is just a glimpse into the real-world impact of this game-changing partnership.

Bridging the Gap Between Convenience and Complexity

Traditional car buying is often marred by complexities, from navigating dealership lots to negotiating prices. The disconnect between the convenience consumers seek and the cumbersome process they endure has long been a pain point in the automotive industry. The need for a streamlined, customer-centric solution has never been more pressing.

1701235578 44 Revolutionizing Auto Retail The Game Changing Partnership Between Amazon and Hyundai1701235578 44 Revolutionizing Auto Retail The Game Changing Partnership Between Amazon and Hyundai

Ecommerce Partnership Reshaping Auto Retail Dynamics

Enter Amazon and Hyundai’s new strategic partnership coming in 2024—an innovative solution poised to redefine the car-buying experience. The trio of key developments—Amazon becoming a virtual showroom, Hyundai embracing AWS for a digital makeover, and the integration of Alexa into next-gen vehicles—addresses the pain points with a holistic approach.

In 2024, auto dealers for the first time will be able to sell vehicles in Amazon’s U.S. store, and Hyundai will be the first brand available for customers to purchase.

Amazon and Hyundai launch a broad, strategic partnership—including vehicle sales on in 2024 – Amazon Staff

This collaboration promises not just a transaction but a transformation in the way customers interact with, purchase, and engage with their vehicles.

Pedal to the Metal

Seamless Online Purchase:

  • Complete the entire transaction within the trusted Amazon platform.
  • Utilize familiar payment and financing options.
  • Opt for convenient pick-up or doorstep delivery.
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Hyundai’s Cloud-First Transformation:

  • Experience a data-driven organization powered by AWS.
  • Benefit from enhanced production optimization, cost reduction, and improved security.

Alexa Integration in Next-Gen Vehicles:

  • Enjoy a hands-free, voice-controlled experience in Hyundai vehicles.
  • Access music, podcasts, reminders, and smart home controls effortlessly.
  • Stay connected with up-to-date traffic and weather information.

Driving into the Future

The Amazon-Hyundai collaboration is not just a partnership; it’s a revolution in motion. As we witness the fusion of e-commerce giant Amazon with automotive prowess of Hyundai, the potential impact on customer behavior is staggering.

The age-old challenges of car buying are met with a forward-thinking, customer-centric solution, paving the way for a new era in auto retail. From the comfort of your home to the driver’s seat, this partnership is set to redefine every step of the journey, promising a future where buying a car is as easy as ordering a package online.

Embrace the change, and witness the evolution of auto retail unfold before your eyes.

Revolutionizing Auto Retail The Game Changing Partnership Between Amazon and Hyundai

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How to Schedule Ad Customizers for Google RSAs [2024]



How to Schedule Ad Customizers for Google RSAs [2024]

It’s no wonder that responsive search ads have steadily grown in popularity in recent years. Through Google’s machine learning capabilities, RSAs provide a powerful way to automate the testing of multiple headlines and descriptions to ensure a closer match to user intent. The benefits are clear: RSAs mean broader reach, better engagement, and improved performance metrics.

However, all these benefits come at a significant (but reasonable) cost – they can be extremely difficult to manage, especially when it comes to updating ad copy to promote limited time offers.

I know this firsthand – I work with several ecommerce clients with promotions that constantly change. Not too long ago, I found myself going through the consistently tedious process of updating a client’s RSA headlines and copy. As I was making the changes, I thought to myself: “There must be a better way to update this ad copy. I shouldn’t have to use find and replace so many times while pausing and enabling my ad campaigns.”

After expressing this to my colleague, Jordan Stambaugh, the two of us agreed there must be a better way. But we’d have to make it happen. A few weeks later, we put that idea into action and created a more efficient process for updating RSA ad copy on a scheduled basis. If you want to try this process for yourself, just keep reading.

Responsive Search Ad Customizers 101: Basic Options & Execution

Before diving into the process of scheduling automatic updates for your RSA customizers, it’s essential to understand some key Responsive Search Ad fundamentals.

First, you can customize three main options within RSAs: the Attribute Name, the Data Type, and the Account Value. Each of these plays a vital role in personalizing your ads:

  • Attribute Name: This is essentially the identifier for the customizer. It is how you’ll reference the specific piece of information you’re customizing within the ad. For instance, if you’re running a promotion, you might name an attribute “Promotion.”
  • Data Type: This indicates the kind of data the attribute represents and it determines how the information can be formatted and used within the ad. Common data types include Text (for plain, non-numeric text), Percent (to represent percentage discounts), Price (to denote monetary values), and Number (for any numerical value).
  • Account Value: This is the default value for the attribute that you set at the account level. It acts as a fallback if more specific values aren’t provided at the campaign or ad group level.

For example, if you wanted to promote a 10% off discount using RSAs, you’d use the “Discount” attribute, a data type of “Percent,” and an account value of “10% off.” Then, when someone is searching for products, Google would test automatically inserting a copy regarding a 10% off promotion into your ad.

Once you’ve set up the right customization options, you can start to format your RSAs with customizers.

Here’s how:

  • Start by typing in {
  • Click on Ad Customizer then select your attribute
  • Google will populate your attributes that are already uploaded
  • For a simple offer, use the “Default text” attribute as a catch-all. This will ensure your ads run smoothly if Google can’t pull the right messaging from your RSA feed



How to Schedule Your Ad Customizers with a Feed

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s cover how to schedule your ad customizers.

Just follow this three step process:

1. Create the feed

Start by creating two sheets: The Parent sheet, and the Child sheet. The “Parent” sheet will act as the primary data source, while the child sheet will pull data from the parent sheet.

We’ll start by building the parent sheet. After opening the sheet, start by renaming the active tab to “Promotions.” Don’t skip this step, it’s crucial for referencing this range in formulas later on.

In your “Promotions” tab, head to the top row and label columns A, B, and C with the headers of your ad customizer attributes. For example, you might have “BrandSaleHeadline” as your attribute in column A, “text” as the Data Type in column B, and “Shop the Collection” as the Account Value in column C.

Once your headers are in place, move to cell C2. Here, you’ll input the expression =lookup(today(),F:G,E:E). This formula will play a key role in dynamically updating your RSA customizer based on the current date.

Next, go to columns E, F, and G, which will be used to manage your scheduling. In these columns, you’ll list out the different values your chosen attribute might take, alongside their corresponding start and end dates. For example, under the “BrandSaleHeadline” attribute, you might schedule various promotional headlines to appear during different sale periods throughout the year.

Here’s how your sheet might look:

Now look back at the first 3 columns on your sheet. They should look like this:

Now create a second sheet. We’ll call this sheet the Child sheet. It’s going to automatically pull in data from the parent sheet you just created, and will be the one you link to Google Ads later on.

Columns A, B and C will be almost identical to the child sheet, but we will be using a special formula later so we can automatically populate this. So, start by labeling Row 1 Column A “Attribute,” then the next column as “Data type,” then column C as “Account value.” 

Then go to C2 and use this expression to populate the right account value from the parent document: =importrange(“[PARENT DOCUMENT URL HERE]”,”Promotions!C2″)

Your sheet should now look like this:

We recommend adding a date range with default text for any days you’re  not running a promotion. In the example above, we have “Shop Our Collection” appearing as default text.

2. Input attributes

Once you have your feed created, the next step involves inputting your attributes into the Google Ads platform. This can be done either manually or through a bulk upload.

For the manual approach, navigate to “Tools & Settings” in your Google Ads interface, then go to ‘Setup’ followed by “Business Data.” Here, you’ll find an option for “Ad Customizer Attributes.” Click the plus sign to add your attributes. It’s crucial to use the same attribute names that you’ve established in your Parent Google Sheet template to ensure consistency and proper data synchronization.



Alternatively, if you prefer the bulk upload method, again head to “Tools & Settings.” This time, select “Bulk Actions” and then “Uploads.” For this process, you only need to upload columns A to C from your template. 

Be aware that it might take some time for your uploaded attributes to be reflected in the business data section of Google Ads.

3. Set up an automatic schedule

At this point, you’ve almost finished scheduling your ad customizers. Navigate to Tools & Settings, then Bulk Actions, then Uploads, then click the Schedules tab at the top. Select your Child Google Sheet as the data source, and share your Google Sheet with the appropriate email.



And there you have it – Google will automatically pull in the data you populated in the sheets into your RSAs.

Common Challenges When Scheduling RSA Ad Customizers

When we test these sheets with our clients in the wild, we’ve uncovered five common challenges. Be on the lookout for these issues – solving them before they happen can save you a lot of trouble down the line.

Not scheduling your upload when the site changes 

The first and most significant hurdle is the mismatch between the scheduled data upload and website content updates. For instance, if the Google Sheet is set to upload at 11 am, but the website changes occur at 3 pm, there’s going to be a discrepancy where the wrong message could be displayed for several hours, or new messaging could appear prematurely. Conversely, if the website updates happen before the scheduled sheet upload, outdated promotions might linger until the new data is imported. Synchronizing these schedules is crucial; it’s best to align them so updates occur simultaneously.

Skipping QA during a message change

Another pitfall is neglecting quality assurance (QA) during message updates. It’s vital to regularly check the business data section to verify that the correct values are in place post-update.

Issues with the IMPORTRANGE function

Then there’s the technical aspect of setting up the IMPORTRANGE function correctly in the Google Sheets template. The ‘child’ template must reliably pull data from the ‘parent’ sheet. If this function isn’t configured correctly, data won’t be imported as needed.

Not sharing access of the Google template for automatic uploads

Pay attention to your access permissions for the Google Sheets template. Google will prompt you with the email address that needs permission to access the ‘child’ sheet for automatic uploads. Overlooking the sharing of your sheet with this address will prevent the system from working.

Having date range gaps in your parent sheet

Lastly, a common oversight is leaving date range gaps in the ‘parent’ sheet. Every single date must be accounted for without overlaps. A practical tip is to have an ‘evergreen’ backup message ready, scheduled to run continuously, ideally through the end of the year, to cover any potential gaps.


Leveraging Google Sheets in conjunction with Google Ads to schedule RSA ad customizers is a game-changer for managing dynamic promotional content. This process not only streamlines your workflows but also ensures that your ads remain relevant and up-to-date, reflecting current promotions without the need for constant manual intervention. 

By adopting this method, you’ll save significant time and effort, allowing you to focus more on strategy and less on the minutiae of ad copy updates. Give it a try and experience a more efficient way to manage your RSAs, keeping your campaigns fresh and engaging with minimal hassle.

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