I was recently asked to speak at an event, aimed at graduates interested in 'making it' in Digital Marketing, PR and Social Media. In preparation I decided to gather my thoughts on what I thought the top 10 tips were for becoming successful in digital marketing specifically (although most of these can be applied to any career with a little tweaking...)
Let me know if you think of any others that would be good to add to the list?
1. KEEP ON TOP OF THE TRENDS
In the age of mobile technology and social media it is easier than ever to keep on top of the latest trends, whether that’s industry-specific news, global stories or cultural events. Being aware of these trends gives you valuable knowledge that can be used to yours, or a client’s, marketing advantage. A number of times I have utilised a trending hashtag to promote a client’s business and it’s been more successful in driving quick traffic or sales than some long-planned initiatives. That’s because digital marketing is all about the now. The current can be used as a currency - so always keep a general eye on what’s trending and you’ll never miss an opportunity to join, or start, a conversation.
2. PAY SPECIAL ATTENTION TO WHAT’S IMPORTANT
As much as being aware of what's going on in general is valuable, what's more important is paying specific attention to the areas that are of real interest to you / your clients. Don’t try to be a jack of all trades. There is too much information out there and you won’t be able to become an expert in anything if you don’t focus. Instead spend most time becoming knowledgeable in certain industries, topics or areas. Specific knowledge is what separates a good marketeer from a great marketeer.
Some logic and principles can be applied regardless of sector but some things are very specific to industry. The best time to send a marketing email, for instance. I named my business Thursday3 as Thursday at 3pm is generally considered a good time to send a marketing email. But this isn’t true if you’re a restaurant trying to drum up weekend trade (Friday 1pm) or a DIY store wanting to promote its new product line (the start of a bank holiday weekend).
Having this tailored knowledge will undoubtedly make you a more attractive prospect to a potential employer or client.
Once you’ve found the resources that matter - bookmark them. Organise your 'digital marketing life' to make your working life so much easier. There are countless sites and tools available which can make storing your research more simple. In addition, the use of these tools can introduce you to like-minded individuals, potential employers and industry thought-leaders.
Create a Pintrest board for a subject matter that interests you (whether that’s ethical clothing production or Malaysian cooking), use Delicious to tag and share your bookmarks with people who have similar interests or use the visual bookmarking tool Dragdis to collect images, links and videos using a quick and easy 'drag and drop' mechanic.
4. CREATE YOUR OWN CONTENT
Once you have spent some time listening and researching think about what your own opinion is on the topics you’ve explored. I am a huge advocate of having a personal blog linked to your own interests that allows you to wax lyrical on the things you’ve taken in.
At the very least, you’ll develop a writing style, learn about site optimisation and search techniques and potentially even get a better understanding of web development, social media management and online advertising - if you choose to promote it. At best you may may develop a genuine following and become an internet sensation (it has to happen to someone and he/she who dares wins!)
Digital marketing offers us insights we could only dream about before. We can see who is looking, where they came from, what content they like / don’t like, how long they spent on a page, what they bought, what they nearly bought and so much more. To have this knowledge and not use it is criminal (and you’d be surprised how many big businesses still fall into this trap - ignoring the hard data and instead relying on gut instinct).
Data can be deceptive (if misread/misunderstood) but it’s undoubtedly always worth looking at and then adapting your approach based on your findings. Testing different content, different layouts, different copy does very little harm but can ultimately do a whole world of good.
6. THINK CREATIVELY
Digital marketing is a world of innovation. Its very nature means it is constantly changing and evolving and the people at the forefront of that are there because they thought differently and took a chance. Behind every app success was someone who saw a problem and thought differently about how to solve it.
Snapchat is a great example of this… In short one of the founders wished some pictures he’d sent a female friend would 'just disappear’. Social sharing had been around for a while but people were starting to learn the hard way that once it’s out there in the great old www, it’s very hard to bring it back. From this concept a global brand was born.
Thinking ‘outside of the box’ is such an overused phrase in marketing but that’s only because it’s so important.
7. NETWORK - IT’S ALL ABOUT THE TOUCH-POINTS
This applies to all areas of business but is especially useful in digital marketing - where job success is largely based on building relationships. Networking online can mean following people on Twitter, commenting on a brand’s Instagram picture or just liking a business' Facebook post.
Traditional networking can be attending events in your local city and speaking to people face to face (showing interest in what others do and taking the opportunity to talk about yourself). One of the basic principles of digital marketing (in fact all marketing) is about enforcing messages through multiple touch-points. Apply this logic to your networking.
The more people hear your name / see your face / see that you’ve liked their content the more likely you will be to jump front of mind when they are looking for somebody!
8. BE OPEN TO ALL OPPORTUNITIES
Digital marketing is an area of business that lots of people want to get into. It is understandably considered as glamorous and exciting (something the general media continues to propagate in films and TV shows but I should warn you now it is much more about hard work!) This means that lots of people are fighting for the same junior roles...
My advice would be to look at all opportunities that are presented to you and think about how they could benefit you in the long term. An electronic parts company might not seem like the most exciting role/client but you never know who you might meet there who'll open the door to a later opportunity. A local butcher might not be the most glamorous client but something you learn managing their account might stand you in good stead for a future, bigger client.
You never know what’s around the corner...
9. SHOW THE LOVE
Be generous with your likes, shares, comments and retweets. For all digital puts a computer screen (or mobile) in-between you and the recipient you are still speaking to a real person!
Basic psychology tells us that when we give something to someone they feel honour-bound to return the favour so, if only for purely selfish reasons, show a little love to get some back in return.
10. BE RADIATOR, NOT A DRAIN
This is a simple life choice that will stand you in good stead regardless of the industry you ultimately choose and is the best piece of advice I was ever given. Radiators are warm and draw people into them. They make you feel comfortable and more relaxed and you subsequently want to be around them. Drains on the other hand sap the energy from a room, making people feel uninspired and demotivated.
Being a radiator isn’t always easy in a work environment. You’ll be tired, uninspired and unmotivated for at least 20% of your working life (if you’re lucky!) but making sure you don’t present this to everyone else has huge benefits to you and those around you. This can be avoiding complaining about things that happen in the office and instead coming up with solutions.
Be the kind of person other people want to be close to and you’ll reap the rewards.