What My Career Taught Me that Marketing School Didn’t
21st November 2014
In my five years of undergraduate and post-graduate education, my brain was packed with more information than I ever thought was imaginable. My bachelor of commerce degree taught me everything from economics to supply chain management while my post-grad certificate in public relations taught me about social media, public affairs and strategic communications. I’m grateful for my years of learning and am lucky enough to have experienced both sides of the coin — university taught me how to think and college taught me how to do.
But there’s also a lot I didn’t learn.
After school was over, I embarked on a career as a Giant. A lot of the bigger picture things I do on an everyday basis as a client success coordinator (strategy, planning, project management, reporting) came naturally — I felt prepared to take on these tasks with confidence based on what I had learned during my studies. But when it came to some of the tactical aspects of digital marketing, I found my knowledge sometimes falling short.
As someone who worked toward a degree based on traditional marketing principles, I had a huge learning curve to adjust to. I’ve been with Digital Giants for almost a year now, and I can confidently say that the learning never stops.
Here’s what my career (thus far) in digital marketing has taught me that school never did:
Social Media Engagement & Influencer Outreach
While the PR program taught me the basics of social media (how to craft great social content, develop an online voice and how to use social channels effectively) there are a couple things I’ve had to learn on my own through research and experimentation.
I know there’s (unfortunately) not a tell-all guide that will help you to excel at social engagement, but some previous guidance would have been helpful as a new grad. There seems to be a lot of unwritten rules when it comes to social media — follow those who favourite your content, reciprocate shares, and much, much more. Knowing these rules prior to being unleashed in the world of community management would have given me a leg up.
Influencer outreach is something else I wish I had learned, especially through social channels. While I’d been schooled on more traditional media relations, outreach through social media and other digital channels was a foreign concept to me. With influencer marketing on the steady rise, more educational institutions should consider teaching the art of digital communication and the basics of social media outreach.
With social media, hierarchies and the old way of working is becoming lost. Access through social allows people from every part of your organization to become your brand ambassadors. In fact, your most important brand ambassadors are your employees and you need to empower them to share.
What I’ve learned to be the best way to engage? Ask questions, send compliments, add your own two cents.
Online advertising is so important to us as digital marketers, but as a student four years ago, “Adwords” and “pay-per-click” were nothing more to me than words in a textbook.
Since working with Digital Giants, I’ve learned how to develop, implement, target, manage and report on campaigns for various clients — more than I had ever learned from a book or lecture. I’m the kind of person that learns by doing; something that my university program didn’t offer during my four years of studies.
Online training programs like Clickminded have made the learning process a lot easier, but there’s always something new on the horizon. It’s a constant influx of information just waiting to be digested.
Keyword Research & Search Engine Optimization
“How much experience do you have with search marketing and optimization?” my soon-to-be-boss asked at my first job interview.
It was like he had spoken a different language.
Search marketing and the practice of search engine optimization was another big hole I discovered in my education — this was probably the biggest hurdle I had to overcome during my journey through digital marketing.
After joining the Digital Giants’ team, I had to learn how search engines worked, how keywords can bring us to the information we’re looking for, and how strategically placing these tiny terms on your website can act as “street signs” to bring your customers to you.
I learned how to use tools like Google’s Keyword Planner to determine search volumes. I also became acquainted with gShift, a powerful marketing software that we use to help clients dig deep into website data to build high-performing web presences.
None of my formal education had prepared me for this part of digital marketing — which is arguably the biggest and most important piece of the puzzle.
Website Development and Design
I’d learned a little bit of design during my post-grad studies. It was enough to help me think creatively and develop small-scale design projects like brochures, posters, website banners or images for ad banners. But developing a website from scratch was a different story. It less about pretty pictures and graphics, and more about helping a buyer through their journey.
At Digital Giants, we’re lucky enough to work with some pretty awesome partners that make website development a whole lot less painstaking. It’s still something I wish I had learned more of at school to have made the learning curve seem a little less daunting.
My Future as a Digital Marketing Professional
Although I found there were gaps in my marketing education, I haven’t found it difficult to learn. With the help of my awesome team, our online resources and a toolkit I’ve built full of information I’ve encountered along the way, learning has been (relatively) painless, and — dare I say it? — fun.
As digital marketing professionals, are we ever really finished learning? Do we ever feel entirely prepared for what the day will throw at us? There will always be some learning to do — it’s a fast-paced field and innovative field, and that’s why we love it!
Do you come from a similar background? Do you find your education prepared you for the world of digital marketing? Let’s chat about it! Connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn — we might learn from each other.