Sometimes working in marketing is a thankless art. Your friends think you spend all day drinking coffee and you might have to work with some real weirdos. With more than two years working in digital agencies under my belt, let’s take a look at 23 things you learn working in content marketing.
Be still my beating heart.
1. The client is always right. Even when they’re wrong
The art is in gently persuading them otherwise.
2. You’re going to learn so much about random industries
All of the research. Your clients could literally be in any industry, and you’ll need to be able to talk about it on a level that’s convincing. Oh, the things you will learn.
3. Brainstorming meetings are everything you’ve seen in films
Giant flipboard/whiteboard? Check. Weird ideas involving animals? Check.
Someone also always suggests a flash mob.
4. You might laugh at buzzword bingo, but you’ll soon be fluent
Marketing has a unique language. The other day, I described my approach to content as ‘holistic’. Non-ironically. I’ve been doing this too long, you guys.
5. Many people conflate tweeting OCCASIONALLY with being adept at social media marketing
But tweeting/sharing often means you understand the platform. You might scoff at that as an obvious one (sure what is there to understand about Twitter?), but you’d be surprised how many marketers don’t get how this sort of stuff really works.
6. You’ll meet plenty of spoofers
They’ll usually market themselves as ‘gurus’ or ‘evangelists’ or ‘ninjas’. Beware the gurus in particular.
Instead, only listen to real pros like me who sit in their beds in the dark at the weekend, typing blog posts, eating waffles with melted cheese for lunch, while One Direction plays in the background.
I wish that was a joke. My mother would be so proud of how good I am at adulting.
7. Anyone can write a blog/give advice/lecture
Controversial! The nature of marketing is that it’s a learned experience. You can read it in a book or go to a webinar or do whatever, but that isn’t going to make you any better at it. My firm belief is that people learn by doing.
I know a guy who lectures in digital marketing. He hasn’t got an original thought in his head. He is, however, exceptionally good at marketing himself. He talks; you listen. It’s only when you’re in the know that you realise he’s regurgitating the marketing books he reads before he goes to sleep at night.
8. Grey or black hat SEO actually works
GIANT DISCLAIMER: Black hat is bold. Don’t do it.
The truth: Many of the results for ‘SEO Ireland’ are taken by spammers and cheats. Once, in my old job, we reported two of the particularly bad ones to the Google PoPo.
Nothing happened. They still rank on page one.
Ethics, as with every field in the real world, only become a problem when someone gets caught.
9. The drive to learn will get you far
Never stop learning. Marketing is an expansive world that grows and changes quickly. Learn new methodologies, keep up with your competitors, try new platforms out. If you don’t, your competitors will.
10. Sometimes your boss will be younger than you
Marketers (in digital in particular) are often young. We’re digital natives, yeah, not VHS natives. *Insert sassy emoji*
11. Figures are the bottom line
ROI! KPIs! Conversion rates! Goals! Percentage of new leads generated! A client isn’t going to stick with you if you’re not getting actual results. Prepare to crack open Excel, friend.
12. It’s not all sitting around in an office playing ping pong, drinking French-pressed coffee, and throwing around weird ideas
I actually work really hard. Just fyi.
And I don’t drink coffee.
13. Networking is essential, even if you’re an introvert
I’m an introvert. Social situations with people I don’t know make me feel awkward. I can do the first 15 seconds of intros and after that, I am left flailing. Unfortunately, marketing events and conferences mean networking is kind of a must.
If you’re an introvert, you’re just gonna have to suck it up. Or cling to your phone and pretend to be live-tweeting. That too.
14. Viral is a dirty word
It is. It’s kind of like that ex you want to get back with. Like, okay, it was a destructive relationship but it could have been perfect. IT COULD HAVE BEEN, OKAY!
My metaphors used to be better, I swear. No one tell my literary agent.
15. Creative people are the best
Even the normal ones are a bit weird.
16. No one outside of work has any idea what you do
“You’re a Managing Editor…in a Content Marketing Agency?”
“Oh right yeah. So…what do you do?”
17. Outreach for branded content is the devil
“Yeah, that thing you made is super cool but we can’t share it because there’s a logo on it.”
But the brand guidelines mean we can’t submit it logo-less. 🙁
18. You live for favourites and retweets from the digital marketing Gods
RAND FISHKIN, WHY DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?
The world at large has Harry Styles and Taylor Swift. We have Rand Fishkin and Neil Patel and Ann Handley.
19. Managing social media is a lot harder than you think
What they say: “Oh, you do Facebook?”
What they mean: “Lol you have the easiest job ever.”
I’m not saving lives here, mate, but did you know that Facebook’s organic reach is less than 2% so creating organic, cool content that appeals to all the brand’s personas actually takes serious time and thought power? And then comes the, “you can advertise on Facebook?” shock. How do you think all those ads get on your newsfeed, friend?
20. Briefs are often painfully brief
“I would like…a banner ad.”
“Okay cool. Can you give me some details?”
“I would like a banner ad that lots of people click on.” *Serious head nod.*
Cool, cool, no probs.
21. Leads can be loopers
In the last agency I worked in, this old guy in the same building was marketing a software he stole from another company. He had the worst website ever (a picture of a fish leaping out of a bowl and three lines of grey text), and he wanted us to ring other companies and sell his stolen software for him.
22. The value of a good listicle
See this right here? A listicle. Listicles work which is why we keep writing them. People like listicles. Sometimes, marketing is about servicing what people like.
23. Despite the bad rap, most marketers are seriously talented people
Many of them are skilled in photography, art, and writing. They are creative people with analytical minds. They know how to use Photoshop or design software or video edit or write or build websites. Brands don’t want marketers who are just one thing. You need to be digitally savvy, understand SEO, know how to edit photos and video, create WordPress websites, and code basic HTML and CSS.
And read ancient Sumerian and Hieroglyphs.
But seriously, marketing is crowded and many of us have a whole range of skills. Marketing isn’t just a department; it’s a mindset in which you need to be constantly growing and evolving. It’s the Swiss army knife of trades and sure, we’re not saving lives, but it’s an awful lot more than drinking coffee and writing tweets too.
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