How can I go from "advanced intermediate" digital marketer to "expert" digital marketer?
I am a marketing communications pro who offers a wide range of services, including both traditional services dating to pre-Internet days and inherently Web-based services like social media strategy and content development.
I would rate myself as an expert where content development and strategy is concerned, as well as B2B messaging across many platforms.
However, when it comes to digital marketing specifically, I know enough to realize that my skills are somewhat limited in this area. This hasn't been an issue with my small-business clients, but it is becoming a concern as I seek larger contracts.
For example, I understand basic SEO principles but don't know enough to take on SEO-only assignments. I can run an email marketing campaign but can't say I'm thoroughly familiar with the processes and tools needed to perform advanced campaigns. I can read a Google Analytics report but don't consider myself a PPC expert. And so on.
I know there's a lot of ways to improve by reading tutorials online -- and I've done that many times -- but some of these skills seem better acquired by practice.
Do you have any suggestions as to how I might acquire that practice most efficiently, or other ideas as to how to round out my digital marketing skillset?
Some excellent responses here and, Anne, you're both brave and humble to put yourself out there!
You might consider trading services or consulting time with professionals in those areas where you'd like to get more hands-on experience. You didn't mention if you use LinkedIn, but it's a terrific platform for sourcing and nurturing mentorships. In fact, if you would like to learn more about marketing on LinkedIn (so that you can offer this service to your clients) I'd be happy to donate an hour of my time to you by phone and screen-sharing.
SEO, PPC and similar topics are very deep. I'm not convinced you need to understand them as a pro would in order to help your clients, and it's possible you may be diversifying too far from your sweetspot to make it worth your while. Consider vetting and then partnering with an SEO professional to whom you can refer this part of your business.
Finally, although I know you said tutorials don't really do it for you, premium LinkedIn members can access Lynda (elearning courses) at no cost. Free members pay $29. Several of the courses on on Google AdWords and similar are really well done and informative.
I think you can only go so far, if you are equating expertise with a mastery of tactical tools, brands, etc. IMO there's a pyramid of skills/jobs that one ascends. I think there's a ceiling to that pyramid if you are approaching expertise from the tactical tool side. Much like you can only get so far as an enlisted soldier (e.g. CW5 or something like that). At some point you need to get out of the tools and tactics pyramid and get on to the managerial and eventually leadership track. Much like doing your first enlistment and working through tactics, etc., and then applying to OCS and starting a run up the officer ranks. (I have no military background, but I did sleep at a Holiday Inn last night).
If your goal is to stay 'hands on', then I think you need to recognize that most skills and tools relentlessly age and become more and more commoditized. They become more and more price-based, so your success will be based on 'how low can you go', versus 'how much do you know'. Keeping your nose in the wind - trend spotting and opportunity recognition - become more important AND serve to keep you at a much higher value strategic level rather than mucking around in commodity tools and tactics. Keeping up at that specialty level view eventually gets you specialty skills and experience and eventually into C level doors, doing pitches for specialty high end stuff.
Resting on your laurels keeps you doing what you have already done. Maintenance and commodity stuff. Please note that commodities are GOOD. That word has much to do with being wide spread, high volume and low margin than anything else. Info Tech (IT) is a great example of commodity tools and skills. The stuff can pay alot, but it is based on systems and other things that are large and mature.
Expertise is based on that, but it looks upward and forward towards the edge specialties, rather than down and backward at the commodity middle.
Anne, and others who have shared. There is so much regarding digital marketing. Even the name is ambiguous in nature. Ask any group "what is digital marketing" and you'll get as many answers as there are people. While SEO is a large part, it isn't the end-all. Content is the foundation of SEO, but even that is not everything that will grow online presence and brand awareness.
There is so much to learn that major universities are now offering specific certificate programs in addition to main courses of study.
In my own opinion, no one can be considered "master" because the field is growing at breakneck speed. New solutions are coming out today that will be obsolete by dinner. The best thing you can do is to read, identify influential tools or companies, and perhaps collaborate.
My firm is a digital marketing agency that not only performs web design (our smallest product line), hosting, content creation, PR, online presence, reputation management, video marketing, webinar marketing, social media marketing, brand analytic for multiple location businesses and a whole lot more digital tactics and solutions. Are we experts? We are experts in the products and services we provide. Do we consider ourselves Masters? By no means.
It's like viniculture and viticulture. No one can be considered a Master, because the field is always evolving.
Anne - Do you use your own services on your own business? Have you actually illustrated all your services (as well as the creating advanced campaigns) for yourself? Using your practice as a Case Study and ROI presentation will not only give you that practice that you want - but a nice proof of results.
Create a sample proposal for your company, with all the appropriate services and all your business end-goals. Then outline how your services are going to accomplish those goals for your company. Treat your company as an external client. And you will have a great Case Study and "real-life" story for your future clients. Include the appropriate metrics, growth and revenue increases because of your marketing services.
Consider hiring an expert in the areas that you are not comfortable with. Hire them for a short-term project to get your company where you want to be using those services. Part of this short-term project is to train you on how to maintain and support these activities on your site.
This would be the most effective way to both learn and gain practice. You won't have to look for a client to "learn and practice on" - because your company would be that client.
If your company isn't setup for this - then offer a new service for "3-month free" as a client-appreciation gift to one of your better clients. This will give you some additional practice, as well as a nice show of client appreciation to a selected client.
The bottom line - when you can do this for your own company - more people will feel comfortable hiring you to do it for their company.
See what you think about those ideas.
Agreed, David! Anne, David's point is what was actually prompted me to write this post on the subject - www.successiory.ca/blog/seo-social-media-digital-difference-2016-2-2 - it may help you have This conversation with bigger clients instead.
You've been doing this for a while. I've realized that (1) I don't know anyone who does all aspects of digital marketing and does them all well, as the field is constantly expanding, (2) To be of greatest value to your clients, you'd want to get strategic in those areas you're already great in, to give them greater value there.
I also agree with Laura on the self-based case study. Hope this helps!
Dear Anne, I think that google adwords and google analytics are well done for you. You can be certified and now it's free to be certified google adwords and google analytics. But the best advise can I give you it's the pratice. You have to practice to the expert in your field.
Knowing is not the same as results. An expert digital marketer will get results in the top 10 - 15% of all marketers. Measure yourself and find out where you stand.
You confuse knowledge with knowing how to apply, or application. Knowing how to use adwords is one thing. Knowing how to use adwords to get maximum results is another.
You cannot say you are an "expert" golfer if you score in the 80s even if you "know" all the ins and outs. That puts you at about the 50th percentile You can only be an expert if you score in the top 10% of golfer, which is a handicap of about six.
Market yourself according to the practice you want to acquire. Make a "product" out of your involvement. Sell that like you are the client and tweak it till it works.
I am in IT side of Marketing field but I see the whole portfolio of Digital Marketing in my org. My advice for you would be to take up training for some of the advanced tools like Eloqua , Marketo , Pardot etc. , get certified and then do some volunteer work for some non profit orgs. There are many orgs who are looking for individuals to volunteer like salesforce volunteer community , Taproot etc. Once you work couple of projects for these orgs in digital marketing , you should have some solid references and projects on your resume with greater confidence to knock on some of these larger clients. There is a huge demand out there for Digital marketing people and managers with very good salary. Good Luck !
OK I don't know the answer to your question but I do have this:
I have a real physical product I want to sell on social networks- especially Facebook.
If you are interested in helping me sell "it" get in touch with me and we'll talk specifics. Bottom line- retail is $20 and you'll get $5 for every one that sells. Of course you'll have to see what it is to know if you believe in it, but get in touch and we'll talk.
This may sound crazy but have you checked with your local library or a main library in your area? Some offer classes or "experts" in the field you are seeking to expand upon. If not perhaps, they can refer you to someone or know how to gather further information you may be looking for.
In order to go from "advanced intermediate" digital marketer to "expert" digital marketer, I encourage you to join https://future.thecmoclub.com/ . This project is aimed to gather marketers from all over the world to share their best practices.