You see, straight out of college, I found myself working in customer service for a startup that provided ecommerce software. There were three of us answering the phones to handle every sort of issue or problem that our 5,000 user customer base could throw at us. Resources were scarce and we had to make do with whatever we could figure out on our own a lot. It was high pressure and, at times, demoralizing. So needless to say, when I got the chance to do anything related to marketing, I jumped at it. I started out writing a few blog posts for the company blog and they went over pretty well with our users, but the company wasn’t going to pay someone to write for them full-time so if I wanted to transition to a marketing role, I was going to have to find another avenue. This company offered PPC services. I had no idea what that was, but when the woman handling that wanted to get it off of her plate, she asked me if I would be interested in learning about it and helping out. Interested? YOU BET! So I learned everything I could from her and before long I was managing the PPC accounts for our clients.
I wish I could say that it was a smooth road, but it wasn’t. Like all startups, there were a lot of growing pains as the company expanded and its direction changed. But by the time I left there 6 years later, we were offering every ancillary service possible to our clients, the company had hundreds of employees and had grown into the world’s largest ecommerce platform, and I was leading my own team of PPC experts amidst a large in-house agency. While in this agency role, I swore over and over that I would NEVER run my own business. I worked with small business owners every day, and I knew the toll it took on them and their families and I wanted no part of that stress. But then, like earlier on in life, my career took a turn I never expected.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but that experience had equipped me with many of the skills needed to run my own business. Those skills are the lessons I’d like to share with you today:
Learn How to Deal with Change (and Like It)
Change is inevitable – especially in the world of marketing! That means that if you can’t keep up with playing an ever-changing game, as a marketing professional you’re going to struggle. You have to learn how to deal with fast-paced change and actually like it. This means embracing the newest developments and opportunities and it most of all, it means committing to staying educated on all of the changes that are happening. The best way to hone this skill is to make it a priority to stay at the forefront of the industry. Read a lot and exchange ideas with anyone who will indulge you.
Be Comfortable Wearing Different Hats
A marketer’s role is never a solo effort. You’ll find yourself working with different departments across the company and being able to speak their language and pitch in when needed to create those cross-functional bridges is key! The more hats you can wear, the better you’ll be at your job and the more valuable you’ll be.
Don’t Stop Discovering
Have an idea? Want to see if it’ll pan out? Great! Learn as much as you can about it, refine it, and then pitch it. Nothing is a better teacher than experience so don’t be afraid to go out on a limb and try something new. Discovery is essential for marketers that want to continue to improve. Remember, some of the biggest successes have come from taking calculated risks!
Never Underestimate the Value of Personal Interaction
Numbers are great – as marketers, we love them! But numbers will never get you the job or win you the client. People are still just as important as ever! Don’t be blinded by technology and assume that a well-crafted email or shiny piece of content will seal the deal. You still have to be able to talk to people and engage on a personal level. Don’t be afraid to sit down for coffee with someone. You’ll be surprised at how much further you can get when you’re sitting eye-to-eye.
Go Old School Sometimes
This plays off of the last point, but being a virtual meeting master isn’t always the best solution. Sometimes you need to go old school! Remember, business was conducted back in the day before Skype and Go-to-Meeting. Sometimes sending a hand-written note or actually driving to meet with someone is exactly what you need to do. A physical statement like this seems to say “I made you a priority,” and people really appreciate that thoughtfulness.
Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Business Blogging and Web Copywriting. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and son and enjoys cooking, watching sports, and spending time together as a family. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about current marketing trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!