Learning Hub | Content Marketing

10 Things I’ve Learned From Working 10 Months in Marketing

January 20, 2017 | Jon Teodoro

Graduating with a degree in journalism, I wasn’t quite sure which career avenue I would end up taking, but I knew that I wanted to write.

For about a year after graduation, I was sending out applications and going on interviews, but wasn’t finding the right fit. Finally, I got the phone call.

A couple of months later, I was working part-time as a content strategist for Verde Media, and my fingers were back on the keyboard full-time – well almost.

I quickly realized that, although writing was one of my main priorities, it wasn’t necessarily what I spent most of my time doing. There was strategizing, hypothesizing, trial-and-erroring, organizing, planning, discussing, changing, editing – and the list goes on.

I was constantly learning something new, digging my hands into new areas of knowledge.

January 3, 2017 marked my first day as a full-time employee here, and I thought it would be the perfect time to recap with 10 things I learned in 2016 – one thing for each month that I’ve worked in marketing. Maybe you can learn something, too.

10 Things I Learned About Marketing in 2016

1. It takes a village to create a successful marketing campaign.

Forms of marketing surround most moments of our daily lives. We are so inundated with commercials, ads, posters, hashtags, etc. that, at times, it seems as if marketers have the process down so well that it’s simple.

Let me tell you that this is not the case.

Not only are all marketing campaigns different from one another (from inception to publication), but each campaign takes a village of resources, avenues and people.

For each campaign to be successful, marketers have to look at it with fresh insight, learning from past failures and successes. Some things we take into consideration every time we start a new campaign:

  • Type
    • Email marketing
    • Social media
    • SEO
    • etc.
  • Audience
    • Who?
    • How many?
    • Why?
    • Relationship?
  • Budget
    • Will this campaign cost money, and if so, how much can we spend?
    • Do we have an ROI goal?
  • Content
    • What do we want to say and in how many words can we say it?
    • Photos
    • CTAs – links to landing pages
  • Deadline
    • When do we need this campaign circulating by?
  • Goal
    • What is the next step we want the audience to take after viewing the materials?

Depending on the campaign type, there may be more or less areas of consideration, but each one will have been scrutinized and decided upon by a team of people.

2. The Internet is more complicated and connected than I ever knew.

A 26-year-old, I had Internet at a young age (pause for reminiscing about the good ‘ole dial-up days). That being said, I, like many others, just used it without really understanding what was going on behind the scenes.

These last few months, I have learned just how connected everything is on the Internet backend…

Your email goes into this field and opens you up to future email campaigns. Your Amazon shopping cart triggers certain Facebook ads. You spend X amount of time on a webpage, which helps the web designers make site changes. So on and so forth.

I have learned the most about the Internet backend through my work with Google Analytics, which:

  • Tracks site visitors’ behavior
    • Time on page
    • Click-through rate
    • Events on page
    • # of pages viewed
    • # of times on site
    • Etc, etc, etc.
  • Presents all of these observations in organized statistical tables.
    • Numbers, stats, tables, columns, rows…GA collects all of the information gathered from your site visitors and presents it in an easy-to-digest, aggregated format.
    • GA takes a lot of the work out of strategizing for you.
    • There is a limitless amount of ways you can set up your account.
      • Flexible
  • Allows you to take the numbers and apply them in a methodical manner to change your site in a way that helps you better connect with visitors and meet your end goal.
    • There is a science to people’s online behavior.
    • We are constantly reading and dissecting our clients’ Google Analytics accounts to make changes to copy, landing pages, check-out processes, organization, etc.

3. Online marketing resources are endless.

There is a plethora of online resources that marketers can use. Knowing your way around Internet applications can dramatically decrease your workload – and it’s awesome!

These aren’t just apps for professional design and marketing firms. Though some do cost money, the investment is totally worth it, especially if you handle your business marketing alone.

Not only do we use all of these at Verde, but I have suggested some of them to my friends who now use them for internships, band meeting schedules and social media posting.

Reduce your workload stress and create healthier marketing campaigns by researching applications that handle the following:

I’m telling you – these applications have saved me countless minutes over the last 10 months, and several of them can be used in any business atmosphere, not just marketing.

Have a task you need help with? I’d be willing to bet there’s an app for that.

4. The marketing/web design industry is constantly changing.

Because the Internet is ever changing, so is this industry. And it’s not only the site design, but also the words on the page that have to change to keep up.

With search engines like Google are constantly updating how they scan sites to return search results, I have to be sure to keep up with current SEO practices to ensure that our clients are appearing on the first SERP.

Marketing techniques change, too, to keep up with evolving user habits. For example, a marketing campaign is only successful today if it is visible across all platforms (i.e. responsive design).

After all, you don’t want desktop users to be the only ones that can see your campaigns. You have to consider mobile, laptop and tablet users, as well.

There are constantly new practices that I need to learn that keep me on my toes!

5. Learning on your feet is key in this industry.

So, yeah, I’m on my toes a lot, and not only with learning new industry practices. There are times when I run into “old” ways of doing things for my first time, and I have to get it down – fast.

When a deadline is out a ways, I can breathe a little easier (tutorials, here I come). But, this isn’t always the case.

I write blogs for a few of our clients, and I have to digest their subject matter quickly and well enough to be able to write about it from a professional POV.

When this is the case, I often spend more time researching than writing – think of school papers. Thank goodness for first year English and Google.

Luckily, our clients always check over my work before publishing, but we don’t want them to do a lot of work (after all, they hired us), so I like to get it right the first time.

This means that I am often faking it ‘til I make it, and if you ask me, it’s an awesome way to dive in and learn.

6. It takes longer than I would have thought to build and design a website – and it should.

Before working for Verde, I had poked around on a few WordPress projects enough to know that a lot goes into site build and design. But as a novice, I did not grasp just how much.

Depending on what the project involves, it can take several months to launch a custom site. A common marker is 6 months – some take more, some less.

Why does it take so long when you have a whole team of people working on it? Because a ton of stuff is going on behind the scenes:

  • Custom site architecture
  • Custom site design
    • Coding
  • Copywriting (often from scratch)
    • Interviews with clients
  • Meetings
  • Gathering of materials
    • Sometimes we can use existing files.
    • Sometimes special photo shoots, video shoots, etc. are scheduled.
  • There are tons of moving parts all having to work together.
    • Scheduling conflicts can and will happen.
  • Approval
    • Sometimes last minute edits are requested.
    • Pages added
    • Holds on launch date

Needless to say, building a template site can, at times, be done in an afternoon, but a custom site will take longer – and it should.

Once completed, you will have something truly unique that is just yours. You will stand out from your competition, and you will have a platform that better connects you with your audience.

We believe it is worth the wait because we’ve seen the proof. However, we know that you’re likely against deadlines yourself so there are plenty of things that you can do to help meet your launch date. Check out our blog “How Much Time Should it Take to Design and Build a Website?” to learn more.

7. You have to approach each project differently because, well, they’re different.

Luckily, I worked in customer service for about a decade before coming into marketing because I learned a valuable lesson through experience that simply can’t be taught – how to work with and for people.

As with most industries, marketing has an aspect of customer service. Being the content writer, I speak directly with our clients from the beginning of their projects.

I have to get to know them on a personal level, detect what’s important to them and uncover unique aspects of their project in order to write content that they will love.

Areas that I keep in mind when getting to know a new client are:

  • Needs
    • What do they need their content to say?
  • Goals
    • What are their site/business goals?
  • Wants
    • What do they want?
  • Ideas
    • How creative are they/do they want to be?
    • How many ideas are they going to bring to the table?
  • Communication level and preferences
    • How hands on do they want to be on the project?
    • How often do they like to check in?

Some clients like to get more involved than others, which brings me to my next point…

8. The clients are not always going to see eye-to-eye with you, and that’s okay.

Depending on how involved your client is, he/she may want to write some of the content, take photos and help out with design.

All of this is fine – to a point.

Communication is crucial here. Marketer, designer and customer all need to agree on process and editing practices. You can learn from your customers, and they can learn from you.

A marketer or designer is a professional that doesn’t want to just hand over the reigns to a project, and quite frankly, a customer is dishing out plenty of cash to have these pros do their job.

I have learned that there needs to be respect on both ends for this relationship to be successful.

The customer needs to be able to trust that we know what we are doing and that we have, often scientifically-based, reasons behind the decisions we make that they may not know about. We need to hear them out, take their suggestions and explain everything in a transparent fashion.

Some projects go smoother than others – that’s just the way it goes. You can learn from both.

9. Marketing is mostly strategy with equal parts psychology, trial and error, and creativity sprinkled in.

As I mentioned above, design and writing, though both have roots in creativity, involve a lot more strategy than one would think.

We have multiple weekly meetings that revolve entirely around strategy. Creativity helps, but it’s more like the cherry on top of the slice of pie than it is the crust.

From my experience, I would say my job is broken down like this:

  • I spend about 40% of my time, give or take, on strategy.
  • 20% goes to psychology.
    • What do our clients want?
    • Where are they coming from?
    • What are their goals?
    • What is the mindset of their target audience members?
    • Etc.
  • 20% goes to creativity.
    • Some projects take a lot more creativity, but generally in this type of writing, there is a strategic reason for sentence structure, headline hierarchy and word choice.
    • This isn’t creative writing in the grander sense.
    • Where you can get truly creative is in figuring out how to write structurally for SEO, while making the copy flow for readers in a colloquial way.
  • 20% goes to trial and error.
    • As with any scientists, we dedicate some of our time to hypotheses and trial and error.
      • What worked for a similar client and why?
      • What hasn’t worked in the past that we should stay away from?
      • Why are these Google Analytics numbers up or down? What caused it and should we do it again or not?
      • How many people are opening our email campaigns? Why or why not?
      • What can we change to create X outcome?

10. Communication is key.

Most crucially over the last 10 months, I have learned that communication is key. It is not only important between your team and the client, but between you and your team.

With deadlines and non-stop tech upgrades, we have to be constant learners, and we have to help each other stay on top of the work in front of us.

We have to keep each other motivated, keep the work fun, engaging and challenging, and keep the moral up in the office and with our clients.

I have learned that a great team makes for great work, and I am lucky to have found this in Verde Media.

Verde Media Marketing Resources

We like to post blogs that can help anyone with any knowledge level learn more about marketing, web design, social media, etc.

A lot of times, we discuss topics that we had to learn about on the job – things that we find important enough to share with you.

If you have any questions about what we do or what you can do in your own marketing endeavors, check out some more of our other resources or fill out our contact form to speak with us directly. We’re happy to help!