What, Where, and When: A Story of Marketing Struggles

I struggle with marketing.

There. I said it.

My business used to be something that I worked on as a side-gig to my full-time job as a college professor. I struggled with marketing then. I struggled because I was focused on my full-time job and when I finally  sat down to work on my business it took a long time for me to shift gears.

Or to even get excited about my business. My job and my two small kids took the majority of my energy and more often than not, my business would get the crappy seconds of my focus. Which usually meant I was tired, would sit in front of my computer a few minutes before my eyes started to do the sleepy cross-eyed dance, and I would walk away, putting off till tomorrow what I ideally would have done two days ago.

My business was a work of heart, but more often than not, it seemed like the heart of my business was barely beating.

I was convinced that when I no longer had the full-time job I would have more time and energy to put into my business and that would inevitably lead to eye-opening clarity with what to do to reach my market, when to do it, and where to reach out. Everything would start to fall into place.


That isn’t what it’s been like at all!

The time part is accurate. And a little bit of the energy piece too. In the days of yore, when I had the full-time job, I would sit in front of my computer for ten to fifteen minutes pondering what, where, and when.

More recently I have drawn this process out to an hour or two.

Sometimes I come up with something and sometimes I don’t.

It’s frustrating. And it still feels like a struggle. I am just spending more time struggling than I used to.

I love my business. I love coaching others to create more joy in their lives. I love creating books and journals that guide readers and writers on adventures of self-exploration, which I believe is the key to discovering what brings you joy.

I believe in this work. I believe joy is the birthright of all of us. And I believe that if we don’t consciously create it, we could live our whole lives without ever really experiencing it.

And I believe its possible that part of the answer to my question has to do with forgetting to remind myself why this work is important. Every. Single. Day.

Why does what I do matter?

Why does what you do matter?

This is a question for all of us to answer in all of our businesses. And maybe, just maybe, it will help to keep us focused.

And to help keep it all in perspective, I like to think of What, Where, and When as characters in a story.

How does their story end?

Once upon a time there were three sisters and their names were What, Where, and When. What was always wondering about the specific message they should share with the world. Where was curious about the right place to put the message after What created it, and When was obsessed with finding the right time to share the message.

There’s was not an easy life. As hard as they worked and as much time and energy as they gave to their efforts of sharing their message, they often found it a struggle to do so. And they never really got what they wanted after sharing the message.

One day, What, Where, and When were walking along and they saw a woman on the side of the road. She looked sad and lonely, but as the three sisters approached her, she looked up and smiled at them and said, “I have been waiting for you for a long time.”

What, Where, and When were surprised and looked at each other.

What said, “what are you waiting on us for?”

Where said, “where have you been waiting? Here?”

And When said, “when did you start waiting and for how long?”

The woman smiled again and said with perfect calm and clarity, “My name is Why, and I’ve been waiting to help you send your message. Why is the question you ask before you get started. Everything comes back to me.”

What, Where, and When talked more with Why and soon came to see her point. Perhaps their message was not being received in the world the way they wanted it to be simply because they were not asking themselves an important question before they shared it. And that question is “Why is this important for us to share?”

What other questions should we be answering when before we can effectively share our message?

“This post is a part of the Double Your Followers blog tour to spread the word about April Bowles-Olin’s upcoming CreativeLive course. Does hearing the word ‘marketing’ make your armpits start to drip with anxiety? Are you terrified of sounding salesy or like you have the personality of a dead blowfish? If so, come join me and 2,500+ entrepreneurs who’re taking April’s latest CreativeLive course, Double Your Followers with Creative Marketing. You can RSVP and watch for FREE. Yep, free. High fives, wildflowers, wine samples. Who doesn’t love free?”

Like this article? Please feel free to use it on your own blog or newsletter. I simply ask that you please include this blurb:
Sara Marchessault is a coach, writer, and mom who helps busy women use journaling to create more space in their life for being productive without feeling overwhelmed. To learn more about Sara and her work in the world, please visit joyfulbydesign.com or saramarchessault.com.


  1. Lucy Jennings | 29th Sep 15

    I like your story, and how the why is the most important thing. The rest will follow.


    • Sara Marchessault | 30th Sep 15

      Thanks Lucy! Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one who forgets her “why” when the going going gets rough – you’re right though. It is important and the rest will follow!

  2. Flavia | 1st Oct 15

    I love this post! I can relate to your marketing struggles and I have to constantly remind myself of why I’m doing what I’m doing. It helps me to focus and find strength 🙂

    • Sara Marchessault | 1st Oct 15

      You’re right, Flavia. As long as we have a powerful Why and we connect to it regularly, we can gain strength and stay focused. 🙂

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