Digital Marketer: The Most Entrepreneurial Job In Marketing
Here's a great article I found that resonates true with my current parallel interests. By Kyle Wong. Digital marketers have the most entrepreneurial jobs in marketing. As an entrepreneur and founder of Pixlee, I’ve worked with hundreds of digital marketers and have seen great changes in the landscape. Over the past few years I’ve noticed that the digital marketing role in particular is incredibly entrepreneurial. There are many similarities between entrepreneurs and digital marketers. Both roles wear many hats, learn quickly, and can have a huge impact in their company—even without much working experience.
The similarities between digital marketing teams and startups
In-house digital teams must act like startups because they are typically understaffed despite the rapidly growing industry and increasing expectation to perform. Like entrepreneurs, digital media managers today have many different responsibilities and are involved with many aspects of the business. For instance, Katie Tyson, the Director of Digital at Freshpets, has a role encompassing three main areas:
1) Maintaining anywhere a consumer might interact with a brand on mobile or desktop (i.e. Website, SEO, Wikipedia, various retail sites, etc.)
2) Managing & supplying content for the growing list of social media platforms (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, etc)
3) Running any kind of paid media spend on digital (i.e. Social ads, native ads, influencer marketing, etc.)
“As digital marketers, we’re creating content, measuring results, and responding to consumers every single day” says Tyson. “We need to know the ins and outs of the business, and our products, to do all of that. We need to understand how our efforts compare with and relate to other marketing, how to best support the brand that day (this changes all the time- from new product launches, to products that need help, to events or FSIs coming into market), and how to respond when consumers ask specific questions.”
A culture of testing and a rapid rate of change
One distinct aspect of startup culture is the emphasis on testing and speed. Testing in startups is a necessity because it allows you to move fast when there is uncertainty. You often don’t know what will work because the space is changing so quickly and there isn’t a very accurate playbook. This applies to digital marketing as well. In other words, digital marketers have to be inherently comfortable with the uncomfortable.
The best digital marketers emphasize testing and constant learning. Digital media today encompasses a myriad of different touch points, platforms, and forms of advertising. As a result, good marketers need to stay up to date with the newest technology and test to see if it’s effective for their respective business.
Innovation is important because the digital landscape is always changing. And it’s changing fast. Just a few years ago Snapchat didn’t exist and Facebook pages had much higher organic reach. Before that, StumbleUpon and Digg were some of the top distribution channels for content. If you can be one of the first companies to innovate using a new technology or platform then you can receive a massive return on investment and time spent.
What makes a good digital marketer also makes a good entrepreneur
Passion: Because of the fast-paced culture and vast responsibilities, what makes a good digital marketer also makes a good entrepreneur . In both roles, passion and belief in your company’s mission will result in better work because you frequently need to go above and beyond your listed responsibilities. As a founder, you represent the voice of your startup, and as a digital marketer, you control many of the touch points where consumers interact with your brand. This passion and belief is immediately felt by anyone that interacts with your brand.
Strategic, creative, analytical: Like entrepreneurs, the best digital marketers can act and think independently, balancing strategy, creativity, and analytical thinking. First, they must create the digital strategy and prioritize initiatives based on the company’s objectives. Then they need to come up with creative new campaigns and content that will engage their audience. Finally, they need to set up the right metrics to evaluate ROI.
Ability to sell the idea: Entrepreneurs need to sell their idea to everyone: investors, customers, and potential employees. Both entrepreneurs and digital marketers face an uphill battle lined with constant rejection, especially when people don’t understand your industry or technology. Digital marketers need are constantly pitching new ideas that are often less understood or contrary to tradition within their organization. There are times when a CEO doesn’t want to allocate budget towards a digital initiative because he or she can’t see the direct return on investment. It’s up to the marketer to change his or her mind. Entrepreneurs and digital marketers both need to have the conviction to sell their ideas despite the uncertainty.
The ability to have impact beyond your years
Entrepreneurship is attractive to millennials because your age or inexperience is less of a barrier in your ability to have substantial impact. There is the belief that you have more control of your destiny. The same concept can be applied to digital marketing, which has exploded in recent years. Because there is less domain knowledge in more senior levels of business, good digital marketers can make a name for themselves and have a significant impact beyond their years.
Digital teams are small. In an emerging field there are large opportunities to define and discover best practices and new methods. You can be the expert! For instance, Snapchat has only been around for a couple of years. There are a limited number of people in the world that are experts in how brands should use Snapchat, let alone experts within your own company. You can be that expert and truly drive the initiative.
It’s all about talent
The digital marketer role is incredibly entrepreneurial in many different aspects: responsibilities, culture, skillsets, and impact. In today’s society where entrepreneurship is celebrated, more recent grads should look at jobs in digital media. For CMOs and other executives, hiring good digital talent is imperative. Having a good digital strategy means nothing if you have no one to execute it. Ultimately, strong digital talent enables your brand to connect with the next generation of consumers and beyond.
Kyle Wong is the founder and CEO of Pixlee, a visual marketing startup in San Francisco. Follow him on Twitter at @kwong47.