The new year is the perfect time to kick your professional butt into gear. Whether you are a devoted resolution-maker or just want to know how you can be a better marketer, here are 13 changes every marketing professional should make in 2013.
1. Let Go
Trying to do everything can be destructive to your team's efficiency and work flow. For example, just about everyone likes to contribute creative ideas to a content brainstorm. However, too many ideas increases the time it takes to narrow it down to one. Plus, not everyone is good at coming up with creative ideas. Some are best at coming up with the ideas, but may lack the focus to make it executable. Others might suck at coming up with the initial idea, but are exceptional at tailoring it to be truly epic.
Be honest about your capabilities and learn to let others take the reins when appropriate. It will allow you time to focus on what you are best at, contributing to a project in the most effective way possible.
2. Build a Portfolio
Portfolios aren't only for designers, photographers, and other creative types anymore. It is just as important for marketers to show examples of successful projects they worked on.
Note: a portfolio is not a resume. It is a supplementary aggregation of projects with a focus on results. What exactly is included will vary depending on the type of marketing you do, but there are a few guidelines you definitely want to follow:
- Make it as visual as possible. Provide the final image, take screenshots, make graphs. Just like a successful blog post, you want to make it scannable and concise.
- Outline your role in the project. Don't take credit for what you didn't do.
- Provide the results. This is the most important part, so put it toward the top.
3. Talk to Different Teams Weekly
There is life beyond your marketing department. Make a proactive effort to build relationships with other teams within your organization, particularly those that are relevant to marketing. One of the biggest reasons a project fails is cross-functional teams are siloed, so start talking to the social team. Get a drink with the head of PR. Before you know it, your teams will be working together and creating infinitely more successful projects together.
4. Think Bigger Picture
Hopefully you know there is more to marketing than links. Rather, marketing is a means to increasing sales, so start measuring accordingly and report on conversions.
Also, start connecting the dots between your typical tasks and the ultimate marketing goal to create a measurable, consistent strategy. For example, if you are responsible for content creation, don't just create cool content that you know will "go viral." Rather, do some keyword research, understand your personas, and create content you know searchers are looking for.
5. Take a Stand
While it may frustrate someone in the short term, she will most likely respect you in the end for taking a stand for what you believe in. This isn't to say you should be obstinate, but rather reasonably explain why you believe in something.
Let's use an example. Agency clients are notorious for bullying consultants into reporting on an insignificant metric. If a consultant consistently delivers exactly what the client wants, she may be reporting on an insignificant metric. By effectively communicating why another metric report is a better solution, the consultant will most likely aggravate the client in the short term but set her business up for measurable success in the future.
6. Bring Forward Solutions, Not Problems
Being able to identify a problem is a good skill to have. An even better one is to be able to identify a problem and provide a solution. If you want something done - and want to be invaluable in the eyes of your boss - learn to only bring forth a problem when you can also give an actionable solution, too.
7. Take Risks and Learn From Your Mistakes
Embody personal CRO by constantly testing out new tools, processes, or ideas. This will make you a better marketer and engrain agility in your work behavior. And when you make a mistake, learn from it and move on.
For example, if you write an article about working with bloggers and one of your blogger connections gets pissed off after reading it, recognize what you could have done better to more effectively communicate your point.
8. Start Self-Learning…For Real This Time
Finally, become Google Analytics certified. Read the book that's been decaying on your Kindle for months. Take that class or go to that conference you've been eyeing. Seriously, just do it.
9. Sharpen Your Soft Skills
It can be argued that soft skills are more important than hard; meaning, for example, employers value communication skills over coding skills. Soft skills are present in most marketing functions, so improving these will make you an invaluable employee. Some examples of soft skills you should master include:
- Better communication
- Better organization
- Better project management
10. Achieve Work/Life Balance
It's basic human nature to always want as much as you can get in any given situation. So it should come as no surprise that the more you work, the more your boss and/or client is going to want from you. By continuing to work late, you are reinforcing bad behavior (a.k.a. people requesting too much of you) and setting expectations higher than they should be. It's a vicious cycle, so stop overworking and reset expectations to a more realistic standard.
11. Don't Burn Bridges
Especially if you are an outreach marketer, you never, ever want to burn a bridge. Even if someone is being a complete pig, take a breath and respond politely. You never know when you might come into contact with that person again.
12. Participate in the Industry...
Participating in the industry is not only a great way to network and build your personal brand, but it also exposes you to new ideas. Collaborate with industry peers on side projects. Attend conferences and meet-ups. Write and comment on articles. Do whatever you can to make a name for yourself and soak up as much knowledge as possible.
13. But be Humble
The above being said, don't take credit for ideas that aren't yours. Don't become "so famous" that you shit on the little people and become rude or condescending. No idea is a new idea. There will always be someone smarter and less intelligent than you, so don't let your ego get in the way of building connections and learning.
*Image courtesy of Bigstock photo.