We get it. Marketing is tough. We typically operate in small, two or three person team wearing more hats than humanly imaginable.

It’s why we do what we do — we love the fast-paced experience of wielding our left meets right brained powers. We love maneuvering through the uncertainty of testing — of creating an art form out of throwing spaghetti at the wall.

At any given moment, however, we’re under a lot of pressure to perform and drive tangible results. We have to make decisions fast, and we frequently rely on the collective intelligence of our fellow marketers to guide us — which is why we wrote this guide.

Think of this roundup as a ‘what to do when you’re stuck’ crash course. Let’s get started with some great ideas.

1. Segment Your Customer Database

Customer acquisition is the opposite of a one-size-fits-all practice. As your business grows, you’ll notice certain patterns emerging — with audiences fitting into separate buckets. The first step to delivering a tailored, personalized experience is to understand what these customer groups are. What inspires them? What ultimately compels them to buy?

Bring structure to ambiguity. The more you understand these psychologically-driven questions, the more empowered your team will be to forge 1:1 personal connections.

2. Automate

Marketers have a natural urge to forge 1:1 connections. The challenge, however, is that these high-touch relationships are impossible. The more your business grows, the harder it becomes to maintain personal relationships at scale.

The best way to maintain these connections is to automate as much of your marketing as you can. Look to software to help personalize your messaging and streamline communication with your customers. It may sound counterintuitive, but marketing automation can actually increase personalization — in that respect, the outcome is the polar opposite of automated.

3. Interview Your Sales Team

This tactic is the ultimate way to overcome writer’s block — guaranteed. Marketers are most empowered when they’re aligned with their business’s — well —  market. It’s easy, however, to get bogged down in your day to day responsibilities as you strive to keep up with the fast-paced outside world.

Your sales team, on the other hand, is constantly scouring the field for opportunities — filtering through a wealth of questions.

One way to streamline the process of generating ebook, whitepaper, case study, and messaging ideas is to ask your sales team what questions they’re fielding. A 15-minute conversation can help generate lists and lists of ideas.

4. Interview Your Customers

Unless you talk to your audience directly, you’re probably throwing darts in the dark. Marketing is, on many levels, empathetic. Sometimes, we become so metrics-obsessed that we forget the human hearts between the computer screen. Every single pattern — every single quantitative outcome — corresponds to a very specific ‘why.’

Why did traffic dip today?
Why did conversions on the homepage drop?
Why is one product more popular than the other?

You can throw darts in the dark to answer these questions, but ultimately, nothing will replace a good ‘old fashioned’ conversation. Let conversations uncover the patterns that are crucial to your business.

5. Collect Social Proof

Customers are extremely cautious — they’re extremely careful about choosing vendors and buying products. The more you can prove your business’s value — that you’re the proven solution — the more you’ll streamline this process. Social proof exists in varying shapes and sizes: testimonials, client logos, and product reviews. Test a few of these options  (literally — A/B test your guesses) to see what sticks.

6. Generate Content

Today’s consumers are highly self-directed. By the time they reach your sales reps, they’ve likely already made a decision about whether or not they’re going to make a purchase.

Your brand needs to be present in the research process -- to help guide your customers’ exploration and decision. The challenge, however, is that you can’t be there in every single channel. You need to be ever-present without being ever-present.

That's where content comes in.

Blog posts, whitepapers, and case studies require a significant upfront investment, but they generate significant yield as resources -- to help your customers make an independent decision about your brand.

Audiences are reading up on you, anyway. The best you can do is be there.

7. Rely on the Community

Marketing communities are springing up to help make our jobs easier. Check out forums like Inbound.org and Growthhackers.com for great discussion and learning material. If you have a question, ask. You’ll have instant access to the smartest marketers from all over the world.

Final Thoughts: Build Systems

As you go through these steps, you’ll be relying on a process of testing and iterating. It’s important to build systems to support these practices -- to help streamline the effort you’re putting in. Continuous testing, measurement, and refinement will be crucial to your workflow. The more you learn -- the more agile you’ll be.