I’ve been at this for a while now, this whole digital marketing thing. It’s been a long (and exciting) road, and I’ve learned a lot about myself over the years as my career went in directions that I didn’t plan for.
The other day I was asked by a connection on LinkedIn (because he was interested in becoming one) what it takes to be a great digital marketer.
A lot went through my head as I pondered his question. I briefly thought about metrics and KPI’s, SEM and social marketing, data and analysis, and a few other things but what I settled on was vastly different than the answer he was hoping (presumably) to get from me. Below are the six principles that I feel makes a good digital marketer, although they could, just as quickly, be attributed to other aspects of life.
#1 Love The Pressure
Working well under pressure and loving the pressure are two different things. The most significant difference is that working well under pressure, without first loving it will get really old really fast. Think of pressure as a relationship. It might be good in the beginning, and you may even excel at overlooking the differences, but if you don’t learn to love them, then they will start to frustrate you in ways that will eventually lead to a breakup.
To excel in digital marketing and life, in general, you have to learn to love the pressure. The pressure the client gives you when their traffic or sales are down. The strength of performing better and better. The weight of competitors. The pressure of keeping up with advancements in technology and staying ahead of those same competitors.
Loving pressure is easier for some than it is for others but rest assured that this is a choice. It’s a decision you make. A decision towards self-improvement. Focus on what you can control, forget the rest. To thrive under pressure, you must be equally inner focused and self-directed. A good rule of thumb? Learn to shut it off. Don’t take it with you wherever you go. Have a secondary passion, so the pressure doesn’t follow you around.
#2 Look To The Future – Fixate On The Long Game
You can’t win them all. Your campaigns won’t perform better and better in perpetuity. There will be times you fail. As in life, there will be seasons that you question the validity of the choices you’ve made. Stop. You can’t change the past. Instead, focus on the bigger picture. It’s an old cliche, but a battle lost doesn’t mean you’ve lost the war.
By focusing on the long game and the natural arc that seasonality plays in your campaigns the better you’ll be able to anticipate the changes required to ensure more wins than loses. Look at the bigger picture and only focus on the dips long enough to gain the wisdom needed to turn them into spikes the next time around.
#3 Find Mentors
None of us know it all, even though we like it when people think that we do. I’m a firm believer that at the exact moment that you’ve learned everything there is to learn is the same moment that you prove that you know nothing at all. Find a mentor. Learn all that you can and don’t stop at just learning about digital marketing either. Read up on psychology and sociology, copywriting and buying tends. This is the same with life. Seek wisdom. Learn from your mistakes and hang out with people further along in their journey than you are.
We all have something to learn from each other. Don’t become an island of one, surround yourself with people that can help you get to the next level.
#4 Reinvent Yourself
Speaking of the next level, don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself or your campaigns. Sometimes it takes a little bit of upfront hard work to change your direction. Learn to look at the data and decide if a reboot is in order. If it is, go in all the way. Yes, change is hard, but if you’ve done your homework, you’ll know when the time is right.
In life there is more to success than money; you also have to focus on your health, your relationships, and your spirituality. When running campaigns for a client, you have to learn to split your attention between multiple ads, campaigns, strategies, and more. It’s easy to get fixated on one thing. Don’t. Focus on the entire playing field, not just your small corner of it. Understand that you will sometimes have to pivot.
# 5 Celebrate Your Wins
Something good happen? Celebrate it. Reach a new milestone or accomplish a lofty goal? Reward yourself. To be a successful digital marketer takes a lot of hard work and long hours. Don’t be afraid to let go and have fun. Work-life balance is important. Lighten up and celebrate your victories, both at work and in your personal life.
#6 Stengthen Your Will To Win
Be competitive. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be the best, but if you start to compare yourself to somebody else, you’re going about it all wrong. Understand that you are a work in progress, we all are. Some people are further along in their progress than you are and it’s not because they are better but because they have more miles in the rearview than you do.
Instead, compare yourself to you the day before. Are you better? How badly do you want to win? Yes, there will be people that make all of this look effortless, but I assure you, they’ve put in the hours required to make it look that way. They have both the desire AND the will to win. Do you?
I understand that this wasn’t the list that you had in mind. But, it’s the list I wrote for you. I’ve mentored a lot of people in this space, and it’s easy to train on the actual work required, but I feel that it’s more important to have your mind right. This career you’ve chosen takes a certain amount of mental toughness that won’t be anywhere near enough if you don’t prepare for it. Things are competitive and more, and more competitors are popping up every day. Live these principles. Learn all that you can and be the best.