I’ve been in marketing for around 5 years (sorry, not decades!), and what follows is what I’ve learnt in that time about being a good marketer and developing your career.
At the heart of a good marketers mindset is the principle of ‘kaizen’. Kaizen is about continuous improvement and has been applied to countless businesses. You never accept that good is good enough, and you don’t believe in perfection. To summarise it in three words: Never. Stop. Learning.
1. Expand Your Horizons and Seek New Perspectives
There’s no substitute for practical experience. But if you don’t read blogs, books, or keep up-to-date with industry
news, you’ll always be limited to your own experiences.
If you’re new to the scene, reading other people’s experiences will help you learn about their approaches mistakes. There’s enough information on the internet to fill a billion encyclopaedias, so take advantage!
Watch out for industry updates, growing channels, and tools which can make your life easier and help improve performance.
You should make up your own mind about what websites are best to follow, but here are a few of my favourites:
- SearchEngineLand for keeping up-to-date with search and Google news
- Inside AdWords will keep you in the loop with Google AdWords, which is an essential source of customers for most ecommerce businesses
- Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik is a great way to learn about analysis
- Online Behaviour can help you learn how to use Google Analytics
Expand your horizons and seek new perspectives! Reading is just one way to achieve this, but talking to other people about their experiences, networking, and good ol’ trial and error will also help you find the path.
2. Use Business Goals to Provide Context for Analysis
From my own experience, there are a few common mistakes I’ve seen and been guilty of committing myself:
- Not interpreting data in the context of the business’ goals. These provide focus and can keep you on track.
- It’s easy to get lost in a sea of data – analysis paralysis. To overcome this, focus on one or two metrics which really matter. You may collect other data along the way, but only use this to provide context to the key metrics you’ve identified.
- Narrating results, not providing actionable-insights. Don’t just be the ‘numbers’ guy who sends across a spreadsheet to be deciphered. A good analysis will be actionable. All that data is pointless without action.
This isn’t just important for those in analytical roles – it can help creatives too. If you’re responsible for content marketing, then it means you’re focusing on performance and how to improve it. You might measure organic impression growth over time, or look at the share ratio for published content.
Certifications are always great, so the below can help you on the path to becoming analytical:
- Analytics Academy by Google will help you learn more about both analysis and their own Google Analytics platform and how you can use it. I highly recommend this. Once you’re comfortable with Google Analytics, you can also take the Google Analytics Individual Certification exam (it’s FREE!)
- AdWords Certification to learn about what is arguably the most important channel for online marketers. Again, this is one by Google and you can read through the materials and take exams to get certified. You need to create a Google Partner account, but you don’t need to be an agency.
3. Develop a Deep Understanding of Your Customers and Business
This isn’t going to happen overnight, and you’ll never have a complete picture. In the spirit of kaizen, continuously look to develop your knowledge of the business and your customers.
This means understanding objectives, whether the business depends on acquisition or retention, what channels are important for achieving objectives, micro- and macro-conversions.
Talk to other departments in the business. This can be a great source of ideas for marketing, and you may find ways you can help each other.
More importantly, you should understand your potential and actual customers. Who’s involved in the buying process? Is it something that requires little thought or needs to be considered carefully (impulse or high-consideration)? What’s their lifetime value?
4. Be proactive. Take Responsibility for Your Work and Personal Development
I’m not saying you should to go all Rambo, but take the initiative. As a manager, I can’t tell you how helpful it is to have someone who thinks about what they should be working on, and doesn’t constantly ask ‘what should I be working on next?’. Do communicate what you’re working on though – no one likes to be left in the dark, and there may be higher priorities.
How to be more proactive:
- Think about what you should be working on
- Offer ideas
- Ask questions!
- Communicate outputs of your work, and give updates
- Set yourself development targets
Essentially, you need to take responsibility for your own work and your own development. This doesn’t mean you have to go it alone.
In his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey talks about interdependence. While you need to take some responsibility, you don’t have to take it all on! You should expect other people in the business to offer support and guidance when you need it.
5. Be Able to Present and Communicate!
There’s not much worse for a reader than having to decode an email, or having to read 75% of an email before it gets to the point.
Being able to articulate yourself is an essential skill for a marketer, whether you’re agency or client side. How can you acheive this? Whenever you’re writing, focus on the most important points first and any actions.
You could be the smartest person alive. But if no one understands you, does it really matter?
I’m a big believer in presentation. Use formatting and colour where appropriate to highlight key points and to provide structure and clarity. Just don’t over-do it.
If you think you need to improve your writing, you can always use tools like Hemingway App to help improve it.
6. Develop Your Creative Skills
While aiming to be the next Michelangelo might be a stretch too far, you should hone your creative skills. This might mean learning more about design and writing (there are plenty of books on both of these!).
The aim isn’t for you to become an expert designer or writer. The aim is to develop a good enough understanding of creative that you are able to actively contribute to a discussion and help improve other people’s outputs.
Creativity goes beyond words and illustrations. At it’s core, creativity is about ideas. This could be an idea for marketing campaign, an email, or a conversion rate optimisation experiment.
Even if you don’t think of yourself as the creative type, you have it in you. I’ve found that one of the best ways to improve creativity is to expose yourself to new ideas and information. You also can’t allow yourself to be a narrow thinker – be lateral.
7. Build processes (They’ll Make Your Life Easier!)
As you’re finding your way through the world, you’ll get more experience and think of new ways you can approach your work. This could be a combination of your own experience and what you’ve read about other’s ways of working.
As you go along, build processes. They’ll never be perfect, but they can be great, and you should always look for improvements. Process will help structure your thinking and act as a guide on how to approach something (I emphasise guide – sticking to something religiously might be restrictive and not always appropriate, so provide yourself with some flexibility).
So to summarise:
- Expand your horizons and seek new perspectives
- Use business goals to provide context for analysis
- Develop a deep, real understanding of your customers and business
- Be proactive. Take responsibility for your work and personal development
- Be able to present and communicate
- Develop your creative skills
- Build processes
I don’t buy the saying ‘jack of all trades, master of none’. You don’t need to be a master of all, but a good marketer should be able to constructively contribute to almost any conversation.
Have any tips of your own you’d like to share? Share your thoughts in a comment.
Photo by jDevaun.Photography