The Article That Changed My Marketing Career.

 

@erikharbison_newcareerpath

A new career path begins.

Well, 820 total words to be exact.

And, to clarify, this article was more like a ‘catalyst’ for a major change in my marketing career.  It opened my mind to start thinking differently about career factors and priorities.

When I say factors, I mean the core drivers behind anyone’s career.  What is our main influence in why we do what we do. Some pick prestige. Some pick money. I was aligning with purpose.

It was like any other day. I was getting ready to go to my job as Chief Marketing Officer at a B2B software company that helped small businesses (a market that I was very interested in after 20 years of supporting Fortune 1000 clients at various digital agencies).

Part of the morning routine was to skim through my Flipboard app. Read, like, share, comment on various digital marketing posts.

Then I saw a link to a tweet by Scott Mautz.  I quickly read the title. It resonated.

The headline read “I Left My Corporate Job–and These 8 Things Became Clear”.

It resonated because at that time in my career I was seeking clarity..but I wasn’t sure exactly what was not clear.  I’m a sucker for listicles, so I clicked with anticipation that there may be some inspiration coming.

I skimmed the article.  Then again. Then read each of the ‘8 things’..slowly.

Yep. Me too. Exactly.  That’s a good idea. I hear ya.  These were the thoughts in my head as I read the article.

My first reaction was to gut-check myself.  Running from a problem is never a good thing to do in any career.  So I had to be sure.

I asked myself..was I running from something or was I becoming inspired to develop a path and start running towards an opportunity and renewed purpose?

Well, I then had to read the article another time..just to be sure.

Yep. It’s the latter.

Two things happened after the time I spent reading that article…

  1. I sent a DM to the author, Scott Mautz, in twitter and thanked him for the article and inspiration to start opening my mind to a career change aligned with where I am both passionate and competent. It was therapeutic.
  2. I had a renewed excitement about ‘what could be’ if I just thought through some other moving pieces.  It became a nights-and-weekends obsession.

I quickly became enveloped into my role and all the things that become an overwhelming focus, and necessity…people, process, tools, performance. Rinse. Repeat.

It wasn’t until I was at a local University as a guest instructor for a digital marketing course that the impact of Scott’s article became clear again.

Wait, I really do enjoy helping students and other marketing professionals navigate their careers.

How can I make this thing my new career?

I searched again for the article, reading it another dozen times.  Should I just quit? Or should I prepare for a more gradual departure (factoring in other risks)?

That conversation with myself (and with my wife of course), led me to find further validation. So I quickly read Seth Godin’s book The Dip (only 96 pages) one summer weekend at the beach.

Okay, now a path forward has become more clear.  Identify a path that aligns with my mission of helping marketers navigate their career.

At that point my mind was open to other influences and catalysts that could support my new found career approach.

Enter, my network. Specifically, a specific Linkedin post.

It was by an well-known entrepreneur that referenced a start-up.  That start-up’s mission was to help marketers AND small businesses.

This start-up helped small businesses by providing free digital marketing support.  They helped digital marketers by providing them with opportunities to get experience – as a means to secure paid, full time work in the future.

Mission of helping marketers and small businesses. Check.

My next step was to connect with this company.

I contacted the entrepreneur, who made an introduction to that company.

That company (GenM.co) was in the process of developing a curriculum focused on helping digital marketers secure full time marketing roles and was seeking someone to lead the initiative.

Yes please.

Things started falling into place and I was very fortunate to align some other coaching and consulting opportunities (each aligning with my mission) to begin this new journey.

Yes, there were some sacrifices to be made, but there is no price you can put on a clear mind, focused effort, tangible productivity and making an impact on the lives of others.

Below are just a few excerpts from actual emails of students and marketing professionals that I’ve been able to help in my new venture, aligned with my mission of helping marketers navigate their careers.

This is why I do what I do. And it validates following through on the catalyst that was an article from Scott Mautz. (Read the full Scott Mautz article here.)

“You are very inspiring and thought provoking about goals. I would be very interested in what direction you would steer me if I gave you more details.”   

“In the years since our introduction Erik has been there to provide me with guidance in a variety of ways – early on he was one of the first career mentors I leaned on to figure out the best direction for me, and has helped me to expand my network locally as well as within my professional industry.”

My marketing career is now on a clear path that is focused on a purpose that can change lives.

 

How to start your digital marketing career search.

EHARB_people-woman-coffee-meeting

First and foremost, you do not need to have a degree or any formal education in the digital marketing field.

Many of the most successful digital marketers in this field studied or started in a different major like History, Economics, Poly Sci or Mathematics.

There are so many opportunities, roles, company types, business models, etc. when it comes to a ‘job’ in digital marketing.

Why not start where most people don’t.

Begin with the end in mind. Develop a prioritized, self-aware approach before you start taking courses, sending resumes and making connections in LinkedIn.

Focus on a digital marketing career. A journey that is focused on the long term value, personal and professional fulfillment.

Do not just focus on a job. Or a means to pay your bills.

Identify your digital marketing career path with these three steps.

First, get some context and perspective on your digital marketing career approach.

Rank these factors from 1 to 6.

1 is the most important to you, 6 is the least important.

  • Company: You can not envision yourself working anywhere else.
  • Location: Have to be in a specific city or are you all about remote work?
  • The Challenge: You want to operate outside you comfort zone? Or are you seeking a cush gig?
  • Work/Life Balance: Ready to work hard or do you need to be home by 5p everyday?
  • Title: Do you need a manager title or is it about the responsibility?
  • Salary: Is there a magic number that you think you need?

Once you complete your ranking, focus on the top 3.

The top 3 factors will drive which companies you research (location, culture), which roles you pursue (salary or title) or the type of opportunity (lateral, advanced, entry level).

Second, Improve your self awareness by understanding your behavior patterns.

Complete a free DISC assessment. 12 questions. Takes less than 10 minutes to complete.

You’ll be provided a summary of your behavior tendencies.

This summary will be extremely helpful when interviewing for your role, integrating with an existing team or collaborating with other vendors or partners.

With these two exercises completed, you can refine which skill sets or capabilities are worth a deeper investment of your time.

Third, start gaining experience in the digital marketing channels that align with your results from step one and two.

There are many ways to get experience through self education, certifications or apprenticeships.

Online Classes by Skillshare | Start for Free Today

General Assembly

GenM – Digital Apprenticeships.

Here are some resources to help you find that first digital marketing career role:

The Muse – Career advice and better job search

Search Results for marketing – Work Remotely brings you the best remote jobs and team members

Remote Marketing Jobs

If you begin with the end in mind, then your digital marketing career path with feel more like a journey and less like just a job.

Happy marketing!

 

 

Will Cold Emails Ever Be Warm? 3 Suggestions On How To Get There.

 

pexels-photo-761268.jpegI’d like to share 3 suggestions on how I think cold emails can stop being called ‘cold’ and start being considered ‘warm’.

I love the marketing industry.  But I’ve reached my limit on the thousands of bad, cold emails I’ve received from sales professionals.

I love the promise of there always being a solution no matter what the client/brand challenge.

It embraces an ecosystem where clients/brands can choose from over 5,000 marketing or ad tech tools or solutions.

That’s a lot of choices.

It also presents a lot of opportunity for sales people to get their solution to be selected as THE solution.

Somewhere between brand/client needs increasing and the solutions pool multiplying like gremlins…the cold email outreach practice took shape.

…and it has been evolving more slowly than it seems it should.

For the record, I don’t mind a cold email from a sales person.

Over the past twenty years in agency and client side roles, these emails have become great entertainment.

What is perplexing is how these emails do not seem to be getting more relevant or even attempting to make some level of connection beyond asking me if I’m free for a 15 minute call.

It is as if publicly available, data rich, relevant fodder gifts like LinkedIn, Siftery, Clearbit, BuiltWith and Datanyze were not available to the sales teams who need them most.

I understand that ABM (account based marketing) tools exist to make the relevant research & outreach effort for sales teams more…effortless. But that should not bypass the opportunity to include something relevant to the person beyond including their first name in the subject line.

And listing big brands that you’ve helped succeed may not matter as much as you think. Who cares if you helped Disney if the person you emailed works for a SaaS platform for SMBs?

Now, I do recognize that there is a minority of business owners and sales professionals that are using these tools, and slowly opening the eyes to the relevancy-challenged majority. Thank you.

Here is an actual email received from a tech services company.

Note — I represent a SaaS based email marketing platform. Plus there are countless other data points easily recoverable from my LinkedIn profile.

— —

Hi Erik (nice personalization touch..it’s like he already knows me),

I’m hoping this catches you at a good time.

My name is [sales rep name] and I’m one of the faces of [name of company with no hyperlink]. We’ve helped companies ranging from Bloomberg and ESPN to Medica and Onset launch and integrate solutions they weren’t sure how to start. (and these are relevant to me how?)

Whether you’ve been tossing around ideas for mobile apps, web dashboards, or complex IoT, my team will work with you to bring your vision to life. (was there something you saw in our apps that we are missing? A relevant use case for us would be great.)

If you’re interested, I’d like to hear what you have in mind. (That’s a big assumption. Have in mind for what? Again, give me some relevant use cases to get me thinking about my problem the way you want me to. Maybe summarize why companies like mine, choose you instead of others like you.)

Do you have time to discuss further next Tuesday afternoon? (Don’t call us, we’ll call you. Leave a direct link where I can schedule a call if we ever have a need for…what were you selling again and how was it relevant to my business?)

Thanks in advance,

[sales rep name]

— —

I know this does not represent every sales person. It was only an example of what is currently being sent as cold email.

If I could send an email (cold?) to every sales person that ever emailed me (hmm..that would be interesting), I would suggest these 3 things…

3 suggestions for any sales person looking to connect with a brand to sell your product or service…

  1. Please. Please. Please. Mention something hyper-relevant to the person. Their alma mater, their company, their industry. Something.
  2. Give me a use case. Specific to my business. How have other brands like mine used your product or service. Reference something specific to our site, ads, assets. Send me a 45 second recorded screencast of how easy it is to set up or use sample data. I’d be more inclined to watch that then ignore your next 3 automated emails from whatever tool you’re using.
  3. Acknowledge the landscape. Give me 3 reasons why you are a better choice than the dozen others that offer the same thing.

Some helpful tips on using videos as part of your outreach from Vidyard.

Other signs that improving cold email is a thing. There is a even a Free Online Summit organized around it.

May your cold emails start as warm as possible.

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Marketing Podcasts You Should Be Listening to Right Now

With a digital marketing space that changes so frequently, podcasts are a great way to consume and digest some great ideas and tips…

Consume these marketing podcasts on your next commute, lunch break or anytime you’re looking for inspiration.

If you want some tips and ideas to test out for all digital marketing channels (not just social)…

The 7 Minute Mentor Podcast from Mark Asquith, Excellence Expected

Marketing School Podcast – Digital Marketing | Online Marketing

The Art of Paid Traffic Podcast (AOPT)

The $100 MBA Show — Free Business Lessons For The Real World

Actionable Marketing Podcast – CoSchedule – @CoSchedule

Ask Me About Email Marketing

Growth Marketing Toolbox | Earnworthy

Perpetual Traffic : Podcast Archives – DigitalMarketer

Vlog Boss Radio with Amy Schmittauer Archives – Amy Schmittauer | Speaker | Author | YouTuber

The Startup Chat with Steli & Hiten

Shows from Social Media Examiner : Social Media Examiner

If you want inspiration and great stories from digital marketers…

The Marketing Book Podcast

Masters of Scale — WaitWhat

How I Built This

Zero to Scale | A Podcast about Bootstrapping Startups to $100k/mo MRR and Beyond

Podcast-TheTop – Nathan Latka

Happy Marketing (and listening)!

Are there any marketing podcasts you enjoy that I missed? Leave a comment…

8 Tips to Ace Your First Job Interview.

Preparation. First impression. Follow up.

Over the course of my career, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, hiring and mentoring many eager college interns and graduates, specifically in the field of marketing. Much of what I enjoyed learning from these students was during the interview process. And, the ability to leverage things I learned from my own interviewing experiences.

I recently completed teaching a college marketing course. The students in this class were juniors and seniors.

Many of them had completed a few co-ops. Few of them had job offers. Too many of them had yet to go on an interview.

Part of the class that I teach focuses on guidance for careers in marketing. Some of the course content around interviewing speaks to following your passions. Being yourself. Going above and beyond. Intangibles.

It was also a good time to share a recent University of British Columbia study suggested that narcissists actually do better in job interviews. Being your true self may not always prove to be wise, but there is value in bringing some energy and well thought out questions.

Also keep in mind, another study found that 33 percent of all bosses that conduct the interview will have their mind made up in 90 seconds of meeting you. So, first impressions definitely matter.

It is about more than just the interview itself. You can significantly increase your chances for success by how you prepare and how you follow up on that interview conversation.

Interviews break down into three phases; Pre, During and Post. Many students only focus on the During…and maybe some time on the Pre.

Pre Interview

Often, the more research you do beyond the job description will indicate if this role is just a job, or a career move.

1.Know the company. Get a sense of when they started, the ownership, board, funding situation and who they serve as clients or as partners. Also understand competition, target audiences and other publicly available news. Check out Crunchbase.

2.Know the business. Know the status of the company’s industry. Who are their competitors? What are common best practices and relevant topics for their space? Who is their target audience? Use sites like SimilarWeb to research their website.

3.Research your interviewer panel. If you’re able, get a list in advance of who you will be interviewing you. Check out their LinkedIn profile. Get a sense for where they worked, their network and public accomplishments. You’d be amazed at what a Google search will retrieve.

During the Interview

It is true that first impressions matter. Decisions about a candidate are made within five minutes. Dress for the role you want.

4. Ask Questions…please. This is the most overlooked by interview candidates, and the most expected by the interviewer. Not only does it show that you’re prepared, but genuinely interested in the role. Try asking what they’re passionate about or a success story about someone they’ve hired. You’re interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you.

5 .Connect the dots for them. Short on job experience? Relate your everyday experiences to relevant industry situations or challenges that you may face in that role. When have you negotiated something before? What’s an example of a business relationship you’ve built? What are you passionate about? Often times for entry-level job seekers, showcasing your drive, passion and resourcefulness will trump hands-on experience.

When meeting with more than one person, pick one or two questions that you ask each person. Choose a question that may identify any red flags on working there. What’s the one thing you would change? What is your company’s mission? This will help determine if everyone (especially if you’re meeting a team) is on the same page.

Post Interview

If you’re still interested in the role, what you do after the interview can significantly increase your chances for getting hired.

6.Leave them wanting more. If you get a sense that it is a place you want to build a career, then prepare to end on a high note. Prepare an answer to the question of “Why should we hire you?” and “What will you accomplish in the first 90 days?” Even if it is not asked, you should arrange examples that align with expectations for the role and reiterate your passion for the role.

7.Show that you’re interested. Ask for business cards. Ask for an email address. 

8. Actually send an email.  Make it brief.  Highlight a topic you discussed. Anyone can send a basic “thank you for your time today” note.  Do more. Send follow up questions or suggestions based on a topic you discussed.

It is hard to ignore follow ups that show you’re ready to solve challenges for the role, before you even have the role. “After digesting our discussion, I thought it may make sense to incorporate ‘xyz’ into your marketing mix. Have you considered doing ‘abc.” Questions or suggestions should be easy to address if you’ve followed these basics steps.

These tips are intended to help recent college graduates and entry level candidates. However, these can apply to any meeting situation where a focus on your first impression, preparation and follow up can give you an edge.

The 5 Marketing Team Archetypes: Which one are you?

 

Archetypes are ‘typical examples’ of something. When you look across your marketing team, you can see trends or groupings of certain behaviors that may expedite or stunt the growth of your business. These are five examples of team members where you have the most opportunity.

Having built several marketing teams over my career, I realized very early that managing teams successfully is about how well you manage individual team members, and the various skills and perspectives they possess.

Per the popular TEAM acronym…Together Everyone Achieves More. The win for you, the manager or team member, is to find ways to get these marketing types to work in a complementary fashion so the whole becomes stronger than the parts.

Finding that level of harmony across various personalities and specialties is challenging. Below are some thoughts on how to help each archetype contribute their unique skill to the betterment of the collective team.

Don’t see your archetype? Leave a comment with one that you align with or have on your team.

 

1. The Checklist Marketer: Tactics. Tactics. Tactics.

Favorite saying: “Great idea. Add it to my list and I’ll get to it.”

Checklists are one of many ways marketers stay organized and productive. Checklists as a guide to keeping us on task are great. Checklists as the default gospel for driving every decision and action of a marketer are not.

Void of any aligned strategy, this marketer is consumed with a task list of tactics. Their primary objective is to execute quantity.

The checklist marketer does bring a passion for their craft, a diligence and ability to execute and a level of organization that has upside.

This marketer is always busy. Too busy to realize that their list is not prioritized. Too busy to realize that their list of tactics do not have any goals or KPIs. Remember, they’re busy being focused on getting through the checklist.

Their daily morning sweep of all the popular blogs, podcasts, snaps and ‘scopes will generate at least two to three new tactics for them to implement. Check. Added to the list.

But those new ideas just bumped your more important, quantified tactics that align with your strategy.

What to do?

Balance the list of quantity with quality. Reevaluate the list of tactics against your overall marketing and business strategies. Make sure to include metrics, or expected outcomes, with each tactic. Review weekly.

 

2. The Shiny Object Marketer: Ready. Fire. Aim.

Favorite saying: “I heard about it on a podcast.”

Everyone is guilty of this. We’re influenced by what we read and research. There is no harm in testing new channels..even the ones that have no immediate applicable value to your business or audience. However, if done repeatedly, then you’ve just wasted a lot of time (research, execution) and money.

Since these marketers yearn to test the latest, newest channel or network, it comes at the expense of starting with asking ‘why’. Making sure that the effort that is about to be expended ties back to your business objectives and audience. Snap is a great platform. Just because others are using (including people around the office), is it the best platform to reach your business’ audience?

A dangerous combination is when a Shiny Object marketer and Checklist marketer are on the same team. There appears to be a ton of things getting done…but are they the right things?

What to do?

These team members just need some structure. Documenting and consistently sharing your personas, objectives and goals could serve as a good guidance. Since there is a passion for the newest and latest things, you could also channel this into content like blog posts or other thought pieces for your company.

 

3. The Spreadsheet Marketer: Every. Dollar. Must. Drive. ROI.

Favorite saying: “What is the ROI for it?”

Being focused on ROI (Return On Investment) is not a bad thing. But if it is the ONLY thing, then there are missed opportunities. These team members can be obsessed with letting data drive EVERY decision. They often are void of making gut decisions. They will also be the ones to suggest you avoid ‘analysis paralysis’, but will usually be the ones guilty of being driven by it.

Success in marketing is a balanced equation of building your brand, driving engagement, providing value and building relationships. This includes driving awareness, interest, conversion, activation and retention. The spreadsheet marketer can be too focused on the activities that drive the conversion through retention.

If your business has a few hundred/thousand dollars to invest in your marketing, then spreadsheet marketer will want to invest in those direct-to-conversion placements that have shown the ROI. Almost to the point of ignoring a possible branding or content campaign that can fuel warmer pools of traffic that would be retargeted or converted to leads.

What to do?

Define specific metrics for channels and tactics that are not immediate ROI producers. Capturing indicators of conversions like prospect traffic and shares could be a start. Consider attribution reports in Google analytics to see how upper funnel type channels are actually assisting in driving conversions in other channels.

 

4. The Rogue Marketer: Marketing team. Party of one.

Favorite saying: “Of course it’s working…I’ve been running a test for two weeks already.”

This team member may agree with your overall marketing plan and strategy, but will most likely be silently devising their own objectives, strategies and tactics. And, will embrace tactics that are more risk tolerant and driven by gut feel. They will play nice with others and be bought into the overall vision and strategy. The most dangerous rogue marketer is one whose ideas and plans actually deliver success. This fuels their focus to “keep on keeping on.”

They are a student of all marketing disciplines. They don’t seek the praise. They operate effectively under the radar. They’ve quietly become certified in HubSpot, Google Analytics and any other certification.

What to do?

Embrace them. They will have the next idea that significantly drives your business. Request an update weekly on their key projects along with what’s working against your objectives, what they’ve learned and what they’re going to execute next. You’ll get about 80%. Which is ok if things are working.

 

5. The Unicorn Marketer: Generalist & specialist.

Favorite saying: “What would the customer think about it?”

These are your most valuable team members. They have a thirst for knowledge in all things marketing. They are considered ‘full stack’ marketers. They understand that the customer comes first. Always. They understand the art, science, technology and creative sides to the equation that drives successful marketing campaigns. A Unicorn paired with a Rogue marketer can make some very successful things happen.

Somehow they can do everything..or learn it in about a week. Not only do they have a strong IQ, but also a strong EQ (Emotional Intelligence). They are driven by their passion to make your customer happy. They are self aware, knowing when to sell an idea and when to back down. And, they conduct themselves as a true team player. After all, they want to learn everyone else’s role and how things tick.

What to do?

Find or develop more of them. In time, your Unicorn marketer will be able to help with the training and development of other team members. They rarely will say ’no’ to taking on a project. Just make sure that they are not too overwhelmed in their pursuit of increasing their breadth or depth across the marketing spectrum.

Every marketer shares elements of these archetypes. If any of these marketer types is currently on your team, then you and they have a tremendous opportunity.

You don’t win with just the best talent, but with the team that works best together. Align the strengths of each and you will have a team that finds ways to complement the overarching objectives and goals. And you will start to see improvements in business results, culture and team development.