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Essentials For A Successful Career In Digital Marketing


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My first University lecture, given to a class of MA Masters in Marketing students. The aim is to give the benefit of my experience in a career as a digital marketing professional and what I believe have been the difference makers for having a successful career. I hope you are inspired into taking action to start developing your career!

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Essentials For A Successful Career In Digital Marketing

  1. 1. Theory into practice: Essentials for a successful career in digital marketing Presented by Lee Benning – 7th February, 2017
  2. 2. Why would you want to listen to me? • Working in digital marketing for 10+ years • Experimenting in digital marketing for 10 years before that • Learning always!! • Getting great results • Digital marketing consultant (brands, agencies, SME) • Full Member of Chartered Institute of Marketing • CIM Professional Diploma in Marketing • Google Partners Certified: Analytics & Adwords • Degree in Business with E-commerce
  3. 3. Brands I have worked with + more…. (Top Secret! Protected by NDA) 
  4. 4. “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be…”
  5. 5. … a computer programmer (it seemed cool at the time)
  6. 6. So, when I left school at 16… • Learned to program, developed a love for IT • NVQ in Software Production (IT training college) • BTEC National Diploma in IT (regular college) • Got Internet at home, taught myself to build websites • Dropped out of 2 Uni courses (BIT & computer studies) – didn’t teach anything I didn’t already know • Wanted a challenge and an education • Enrolled in BA(Hons) Business with E-commerce at SSU (2001) • Only studied one marketing module • Ran my own website, taught myself SEO + how to analyse web stats
  7. 7. Starting out (no real marketing background) • Worked at start-up: learned on the job • Wore many hats • Sales, Marketing, Finance • First in, last-man standing! • Offered job at Sony Europe head office in Basingstoke (Online Marketing dept.) • Based on education (relevant degree) • + someone else had paid me to do a similar job (experience)! • Had only ever been out of Southampton a handful of times – almost said no (many excuses… truth = out of comfort zone)
  8. 8. “Your son made it mama”
  9. 9. Developing as a digital marketer • Worked with some brilliant minds at Sony (big international marketing department) • Learned marketing skills passively through meetings and email communications • Asked questions: “Why do we do it that way?, How do we know if it is a success?” • Understood that it’s the outcome that matters, not how you got there • Developed processes to get results faster (hint: models and frameworks would come in handy) • No room to develop career*, found new job *but I did develop a lot of new skills
  10. 10. Digital marketing management • Out of comfort zone – again! • Am I worth this amount of money? (Even though I can easily do the job)? • Prepared marketing plans • Theory, frameworks and models came in handy here! • Appointed digital agencies • Don’t rely on agencies for strategic expertise • Rely on agencies for deploying tactics • YOU define how success will be measured (no vanity metrics!!) • Focused on results – that’s all MDs and CEOs care about
  11. 11. Like a boss “A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man”
  12. 12. Challenges faced and how to overcome them • Stepping out of comfort zone (what if I fail?) • Commit to do something that is scary (public speaking, ownership of delivering a project… handing an assignment in on time) - you WILL do it • Career development • Being held back by management • You will scare them - you will know things that they don’t • Invest in yourself – it will pay off! • Internal politics • It’s easier to ask for forgiveness, than it is to get permission (Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, 1986) • Selling myself (hint: different message for different markets) • Distractions (social media; turn off push notifications and stick mobile in a drawer!)
  13. 13. Difference makers for my career Starting out: • Relevant degree • Relevant side-project (running my own website) • Something to make me stand out from the crowd on my CV (shortlisted for Season 1 of Dragon’s Den) Stepping up into management: • Big brand(s) on CV • Relevant experience • Communication skills Going solo: • Past results/testimonials (qualifications not so important anymore) • Network of contacts • Proven processes (hint: know your marketing frameworks!) • Professional development - sharpening the saw (Stephen R. Covey)
  14. 14. Important skills required today in digital • Data insights (drowning in data) [know what you want to measure ahead of time] • Mobile marketing (sales, lead gen, brand awareness, direct response marketing, geo-targeting) • Social media + SEO - often outsourced ** Setting objectives and measuring success ** (theory and frameworks come in very useful here!) “You don’t need to be an expert in everything, but be an expert in something - and have a good understanding of everything else.”
  15. 15. How to take advantage of skills gaps and start building your network • Start a blog + learn how to build and engage an audience (interesting CV talking point!) • Install Google Analytics, understand the data • Let your friends on FB know what you do (or aspire to do) • Connect with classmates on social media • Follow and tweet to key influencers in your chosen field (ego-baiting) • Connect with connectors • Add me on LinkedIn:
  16. 16. Reflections A relevant degree will make you stand out from the crowd 01 Relevant degree + relevant experience = gold! 02 Take any job in digital marketing at start of career (experience) 03 Stepping out of comfort zone = only way to grow 04 Leaders care about results – not how hard you worked to get there 05 Invest in continued development (personal + professional) 06
  17. 17. Recommended reading • Awaken The Giant Within, Tony Robbins (self-development) • Don’t Make Me Think, Steve Krug (usability) • Letting Go Of The Words, Janice (Ginny) Redish (user experience) • Cashvertising, Drew Eric Whitman (advertising) • Do The Work, Steven Pressfield (productivity) • SOSTAC® Guide To Your Perfect Digital Marketing Plan, PR Smith (marketing planning)