When you first start out working in digital marketing, you’ll find that eventually there’s a need to specialise. The amount you can learn and do is so broad that it’s very difficult to be an expert in every element. Whilst at first you’re going to want to keep your knowledge broad and learn about all the different sides to it, as you gain more and more experience it’s likely you’ll begin to prefer one side of things more than others. So how do you make that choice?
Before stepping foot in a new company, you’ll have a particular job role already highlighted in the job description. Your boss will have an overall expectation of your skills, interests, personality and ambition. But like sitting down in front of a brand-new restaurant dish; you don’t know the full story until you try it. Digital marketing is all about having an open mind; only through trial and error will you truly understand your path.
You may be a content person, for instance, but don’t be so quick to shoot down technical SEO or PPC. Talk to your colleagues about their roles, read their work, scan over old company documents within the digital marketing fields that feel more alien to you. You may just unearth something which could be a light bulb moment in your career. Once it clicks, it will become an obsession; you’ll want to learn more, speak to industry peers, and ultimately, help the company succeed.
If you don’t expose yourself to all aspects of digital marketing from the off, then you may not be utilising your talents effectively. Read relevant marketing books, like Contagious by Jonah Berger, away from work or start an online training course (DistilledU has free demo courses to kick you off). You could be travelling down one path, but by reading books and testing your knowledge on all aspects of digital marketing, you could well start to head down another. Likewise, don’t be scared about asking questions. Your company want to help you succeed, and almost all of digital marketers don’t bite, so you can pick their brains on their respective roles.
Being active on all social media platforms is a prerequisite for a digital marketing role. It’s imperative because otherwise you’ll be known as the industry’s recluse; like the quiet kid at school. Through interacting with your peers on Twitter, following industry experts and joining industry-specific Facebook groups, you’ll communicate with others in the know. Showing interest in your new role will get you noticed, and you’ll begin to build a strong network within the industry.
As well as getting on top of the social channels, there is a whole host of social meet ups in which the industry gurus drink beer, snack on nachos and share their views. Check out meet up events like Search London and Take It Offline, for instance. These events are gold dust for a digital marketing newbie. The people you want to meet will be more than acquaintances in no time and you’ll be gaining invaluable knowledge from some of the leading figures in SEO. Showing your face will also help your company stay visible in the market, which, in turn, could assist in gaining future clients and business. This, in itself, will make you a stronger asset to your company.
And when you do specialise, it’s important to keep an awareness of all the other elements involved. This will help your work to be well-rounded and more likely to succeed. It’s important to have an awareness of what is within the realms of possibility across the whole of digital, even if you don’t quite know how to implement it.
Once you know your specialism, it’s worth letting your company know this is where your skills really lie. It’s in the company’s interest to give you work you’re passionate about, and ultimately, that you’ll be better at. There may be scope for a change in role or department – depending on the company size and structure – which will help you perform at a higher level. A company which doesn’t understand this is the type of company you should be avoiding.
Most digital marketers, or at least the ones we know, are ambitious. The SEOs of this world rarely rest on their laurels; most are constantly striving to progress in their careers. It’s an industry with strong, but healthy, competition between agencies. Be that person to come up with a content campaign which makes waves around the industry – push yourself in and out of your comfort zone.
EVERY job has its dull moments. You can still love a job that is sometimes taxing – in terms of mental stimulation. Even football players get bored of training. But it’s about embracing the dull moments and realising that everything you’re doing has a purpose and end goal. Every content campaign and SEO strategy will have menial tasks – usually involving Excel spreadsheets – but this makes the end result even more satisfying. A happy client means a happy agency every time.