“These reports you handed in…it’s almost as if you have no business training at all…I don’t know what this is supposed to be.”
Marketing is interesting to me at least partly because those who become a successful practitioner get there because of their ability to just get out there and try things.
I am not formally trained as a marketer, and while it has closed some doors (roles requiring an MBA for example), it has opened up so many others for me. I am grateful to have learned many lessons along the way.
If you’re a small business owner, or you’re just wanting to “get into” the marketing industry there is a definite path to becoming successful, even without any formal training whatsoever.
In fact, dare I say it, you might actually be better off with no training.
Just try things
The most important thing is to get out and try things.
It’s very important that you don’t let all the options, choices and considerations paralyze your ability to get stuff done.
You want to figure out your best bets and get in and try.
With the tools we have at our disposal now it’s never been a better time to become a marketer. Never.
If you don’t own a store you can make one with Shopify.
If you don’t have a blog you can make one with Blogger or Tumblr or Medium.
If you don’t have a website you can make one with WordPress.
If you don’t have a social presence you can make one with Facebook or Linkedin or Instagram.
If you want to showcase your skills or build up experience you can do any of those things in a day!
If you own a company and want to generate new business you can get started on any of those while watching Game of Thrones in the evening.
Don’t worry about failing
Sometimes things don’t go as planned. You can’t let that trouble you. You can’t worry over a failed campaign, instead you can learn from it.
What you’ll build up over time is a spot-on intuition because you have literally tried everything before.
One word of warning, you absolutely must know the results of what you’re doing and be ready to know when it’s a failure. The worst thing is a campaign that’s failed but you just don’t know it yet.
For those of you with stakeholders you might want to communicate early and often about campaign performance, and set expectations so there are no surprises.
Test, Launch, Repeat
Your campaigns are never done. They are never in a state of “that’s complete, let’s move on.”
You should always be willing to change directions, and you should do it as early as possible.
There is a bit of an intuition involved here, to know when to pivot, why, and what to pivot to.
My rule of thumb here is to always have a fallback plan, so it’s easy to make the judgement call.
Example – Your lead magnet isn’t performing? Throw it away and replace it with something entirely different. Or double the size of your existing one. Or refresh the look and feel.
Somewhat contrary to “Pivot Early” statement above, you also need to have massive amounts of patience. Particularly with campaigns that has little short term pay off but a lot of long term payoff.
You’ll see with things like Social campaigns or lead nurturing that the payoff can be months down the road. You need the patience to see it through.
In my experience those around me are typically less patient than I am. Now that I own my own business it’s much easier for me to work on programs that will pay off down the road. The patient game can have significant payoff.
NorthIQ has been writing content almost every week since January. Many times I have looked at results like shares and likes and traffic generated from these posts and I question the campaign entirely. Then one day you get a message out of the blue – a fantastic new prospect has been reading your stuff and wants to talk. Imagine if I gave up on the plan….
Always Consider How You Can Replace Your Existing Campaigns
I always roll around in my mind, even on successful campaigns, what I could do to replace it. How I could change it up in such a way that it would be more effective.
There is always something better than what you have. Always. You’ll always win if you carry this mindset with you at all times.
My mind is always trying to destroy what I’ve already done. I consider myself great competition. Past me is always losing to future me. Past me is the biggest loser I know…
Know the Industry, But Only Let it Guide You
It’s always been important to me to know the industry inside and out. Know what’s working for people. Know how they did things. Know what’s “best practice”.
The thing is with best practice though is it needs to guide you, not dictate your actions.
Too often I have seen cookie cutter marketing applied to business problems. Agencies who churn out cookie after cookie after cookie without thinking about a particular problem that a unique business faces. Let’s face it, every business is unique.
Let me be clear here: Sometimes what’s worked for everybody else will work for you in a particular case. Sometimes it won’t. Let the industry guide you, but not tell you what to do.
Some Things Are Table Stakes
While it’s clear that I believe anybody can be successful in marketing with a little elbow grease and effort. There are some things that cannot be left behind.
I often find inexperienced marketers or business owners are forgetting to measure and report.
I get it, reporting is a double-edged sword. If you’re reporting successfully it might show your work is not good enough.
Without a robust measurement engine in place you don’t have the information to guide your decision making.
The worst experience I had when I first started marketing was a boss asking how my campaign did, and I had few answers, and the ones I had did not stand the sniff test.
Get to know Google Analytics, and any other reporting engine that will help you.
The Bottom Line
Anybody can be successful at marketing with the right mindset. The tools are all available.
As a business owner there is no reason you cannot be out there trying things.
As a young marketer or somebody wanting to get into the industry there is no reason you cannot be gaining experience and having success, even if you aren’t currently employed as a marketer.