I kind of fell into marketing by accident.
As a kid, I was always fascinated with art in general: music, poetry, dance, theatre, sculpture, all of it spoke strongly to a kid that was hyper-sensitive to the feelings of others, as well as hyper-aware of how their thoughts and feelings were being perceived by peers in the real world. But the joke of it was- I had (and have) very little in the way of artistic talent. I can’t carry a tune, definitely don’t have any rhythm, and have had only a modicum of success writing fiction as a hobby (no manuscript ever completed, nothing has seen the light of day- but I think putting pen to paper in the first place counts)!
I used to think to myself, how can I make this work? How can I fit art into my everyday life, if I’m not an artist? A teacher suggested I work in arts & entertainment management, and so, my fledgling career in public relations took root.
As many of you know, I worked as the PR coordinator for my town’s annual music festival throughout college, and today I work in digital marketing and brand strategy for an agency that counts industry disruptors and giants alike as clients.
Now that I’m rounding a year of full-time work in marketing, and after spending the last four and a half years entrenched in all things communications, I feel as though a lot of things translate across industries and trickle down into real life. I wanted to take some time to reflect on some of these lessons in the hopes that they’ll be of use to someone else!
Personal branding is king.
In today’s day & age, your social media presence says a lot about you. If there’s one thing that’s been hammered into my relatively thick skull over the years, it’s that even if you think you don’t have a brand, you do. Furthermore, if you don’t know what your brand is, that is probably a bad sign. How you present yourself online paints a picture of who you are to people who don’t know you well, and you can’t expect everyone to understand or appreciate who that person is if you don’t represent yourself in the right way.
Take a couple minutes to think about the last thing you posted. If the subject matter is something you have to contemplate wanting an employer to see longer than about three seconds, I would delete it! Also, if you feel up to the challenge, starting a blog or public portfolio like me can be a worthwhile way to show others what you’re passionate about, and connect you with people that can open a lot of doors.
Being articulate goes a long way.
I know I have a tendency to talk around things and stretch my vocabulary to the limit, but I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing in every scenario. In fact, being that most people communicate via email these days, being able to use a more extensive vocabulary can make you seem more polished, setting the tone of any back-and-forth you might have, virtually or in real life. That isn’t to say you should throw out crazy words just for the heck of it- being more concise is a valued skill in conversation, so long as you know what your words mean literally, as well as any connotations they might have.
I used to hate data. Who am I kidding- I still do! However, an unfortunate realization I’ve come to is that part of any halfway decent marketing strategy is the ability to collect key performance metrics and measure those against inputs, in order to determine campaign efficiency. In plain English, collecting information about how your results stack up against your efforts helps you figure out how to do better next time. And I think that’s something we all need to do more of, because as we all know, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.
The meek will NOT inherit the earth.
I can’t stress enough the importance of being assertive, especially as a woman in the workplace (and in life). Networking, negotiating salary, speaking out against injustice- being outspoken and outgoing is something that is a struggle for a lot of people, a struggle I am acutely familiar with. It isn’t easy to break out of your routine and come out of your shell, but it’s the only way to get noticed- and people who get noticed (for the right reasons) rarely get passed over in life.
Change is inevitable.
Nothing is ever set in stone, especially in the world of search engine marketing. What can we do then, if the ground under our feet could heave in two at any moment, and our work as we know it would irrevocably change? Well, simply: suck it up and prepare for it. No one knows what’s coming in life, all we can do is hope for the best, plan for the worst, and learn to love change. Whether that’s moving halfway across the country, or just switching up a familiar hairstyle, it can be exhilarating to embrace the unknown.
Never stop learning.
As the marketing industry begins to value more “hard skills” (think basic coding, digital marketing, content, SEO, and graphic/web design), a traditional media background just won’t cut it anymore. Part of being a marketer means finding joy in being inherently inquisitive- there should never come a point in life where you say, ok that’s it, I think I’ve learned everything I could possibly want to know. Part of the marvel of the Internet is its ability to connect us with information without limit- and who would we be if we didn’t take advantage of that?
Always have a backup plan.
As I said above, change is inevitable. Life has a funny way of throwing all your known variables into disarray, which makes it hard to feel certain about anything at all- especially where you live and work, and what you want out of life. Heck, you could wake up tomorrow and decide you want to move to Mexico and open up a bed and breakfast, and that’s okay. It’s life. You should never have to stay in a work situation or relationship that makes you unhappy- but that said, it’s not a great idea to wing it all the time, even if it’s worked out in the past for me. Have a “what-if”. Put money away. That way, when life does throw you a curve ball, you’re prepared.
Play to your strengths.
Being well rounded is one thing, but if there’s an area that you excel, you should drive that home. Invest in your talents, so they have space to blossom into plentiful opportunity later on in life. For me personally, I have developed an affinity for writing posts like these and want to parlay that into a possible freelance career one day. So, I want to set myself up for success by buying a new laptop to replace my 5-year-old one that is wheezing like it’s dying of heatstroke as we speak, by injecting money into a new camera, private hosting, and all the things I feel I need to make my dreams come true.
You are your own best advocate.
Don’t be afraid to sell yourself! No one is going to do it for you. You know what your work history is, what your greatest accomplishments are, and only you can paint the most accurate picture of who you are as a professional and as a dang good human. In friendships and in your career, knowing how to work for you is one of the greatest skills you can possibly have.
Surround yourself with people smarter than you.
Not sure where this originated, but I heard it a lot growing up. If the company you keep stimulates your brain, you’re always going to feel challenged to keep up, becoming the best you that you can be. We often keep people in our lives for longer than they should be, and I just want to caution you against it. Don’t carry dead weight around your neck. Even if a friendship or relationship feels necessary, I can promise you it isn’t. If you’re actively practicing the above, you will find people that add value to your life, not detract from it.
And that’s it! I am not perfect, but I will never pretend to be. I just do my best every day, and try to find lessons in the most mundane of days.
Remember not to be so hard on yourself. Like they say in Jurassic Park, “Life Finds a Way”- (although admittedly not in that context, immediately sorry I used it, yet I refuse to delete it because it gave me a good laugh).
Keep it real (interesting),