Know your digital marketing strengths, but more importantly, acknowledge your weaknesses
Don't ignore your shortcomings. Columnist Matt Umbro says if you want to succeed in digital marketing, you need to recognize where you excel and where you need help.
One of the most common sentiments we hear as digital marketers is “Always be learning.” It’s a necessary mentality, as our industry is constantly evolving, and we need to stay up to date with the latest changes.
It’s critical to continue your personal growth by learning new processes and continuing to challenge yourself. It’s also crucial to determine what you’re good at and what you can improve upon.
Whether it’s personal pride or curiosity to try something new or something else, we tend to run before we can walk when it comes to digital marketing. Unfortunately, this scenario can play itself out when working with clients.
For example, an eager account manager may want to run AdWords Scripts for a client but doesn’t fully understand the implications. After the script has run, the account manager notices that the wrong changes have been made due to an error in how the thresholds were set up. This error could lead to a tough conversation with the client.
The purpose of this post isn’t to discourage learning, but rather to help you understand your capabilities so that you can provide the best work. The strategies outlined here speak to how you can focus on your strengths while getting assistance in areas where you aren’t as knowledgeable.
To begin, it’s critical to know where you excel.
What are you good at?
The question seems simple enough but is often complicated. With our desire to be good at many things, we’re either a) great at some tasks while falling short with others or b) adequate with all tasks, but end up commoditizing ourselves because we don’t stand out significantly enough against the competition.
Early in my career, I was doing both PPC and SEO. One of my industry colleagues at the time said that I should pick one area to focus on because I couldn’t be great at both.
I initially dismissed the comment, but as search as a whole began to evolve, I realized that I needed to choose one discipline. Thus, I began to invest my time and efforts fully into PPC and haven’t looked back.
This example points to the need to determine where you want to focus your efforts, and perhaps more importantly, why. I chose PPC because I liked the fact that results were instantaneous and the workflow was more regimented (in my opinion). Thus, I thoroughly enjoy the work I’m doing while having greater confidence in my abilities.
This same principle should be applied on a day-to-day basis. Maybe you enjoy digging into the data instead of updating bids. Or you prefer to research and build campaigns but aren’t as keen on optimizations.
Not to say that you won’t ever work on tasks you aren’t as fond of, but you should hone your skills where you have the most ability. This philosophy is where teams come into play.
There’s no “I” in team
I know that this saying is a cliché, but I’ve found utilizing teams to be a brilliant way to crowdsource knowledge.
Let’s use an example of a paid search team. Though everyone follows industry trends, each team member specializes in a specific area. Here’s the breakout.
Let’s review a couple of scenarios. Bob and Chris may run Shopping campaigns but might not always be aware of feed updates.
Here is where Ashley comes in and shares her knowledge. She can explain to the team what the updates are, why change is necessary and what information needs to be relayed to clients. Ashley isn’t doing the work for her colleagues but instead sharing her knowledge to help others about a topic she enjoys.
In another scenario, Chris and Ethan may work together to provide a custom Bing Ads report in Analytics. There may be specific metrics and trends that Ethan wants to visualize through Analytics, but he doesn’t know the ideal way to proceed.
Here’s where Chris’s knowledge of Analytics and, in this case, how to create custom reports, comes into play. Each individual is using their specific areas of expertise to help each other.
These are just a couple examples of how individual strengths can work together so the whole team benefits. You don’t have to be good at everything, because chances are, there’s someone else who can help.
It’s okay to admit that you aren’t good at something. Every day, the field of digital marketing expands through new tactics, philosophies and platforms. Even the most ardent industry junkies won’t know everything.
You should always be learning, but also recognize that some tasks are going to come easier for you than others. And vice versa — tasks you find challenging will be easier for others. You’re most valuable when you focus on what you are good at and know when to admit that you need help.