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Are you a marketing professional who is just starting out? Are you looking to advance your digital marketing career, but you're not quite sure which direction to take or how to move forward?
If so, you should be continually improving your skills to get a competitive edge. But what's the best way to go about doing so?
Check out these interesting facts from HubSpot:
- 85% of working people are dedicating 30 minutes per week to job-specific learning exercises; furthermore, most professionals would like to devote even more time to self-improvement, but don't feel they have enough time.
- 68% of workers are using online learning platforms, and another 62% are looking to influencers and experts.
- Most of them prefer online training and over half use their mobile devices for learning.
1. Choose a Specialty
Specialization is undoubtedly key, and the ability to market yourself based on your differentiation is a big part of being competitive. Does this sound intimidating? The truth is you probably already have skills that make you stand out from the rest – you may just have to be creative about how you grow and market them.
The key is choosing something based on your priorities and natural aptitude, as well as your career goals. Are you a tech person who wants to move into the creative or marketing side? SEO could be your thing. Are you a business professional who loves to write? Copy and content writing could be your jam. If you’re coming from the business end of things and you like to write, there’s plenty of demand for content and social media managers.
Here are some areas that will continue to be in demand in the field of digital marketing:
- Social media
- Mobile marketing
- Web development and design
- Video production
- Strategy and project management
- Digital publishing
Whatever route you take, be sure to have a niche and be able to demonstrate that you can achieve measurable results.
2. Show What You Know
Finding a specialization is the first step to moving forward with a rewarding digital career. But once you've taken inventory of what you are great at and what you want to learn, you'll need to start showing other people exactly what you can do.
This part involves much more than creating a portfolio, although depending on what stream you are focusing in, it may depend more or less on your portfolio. Copywriters, web designers and graphics specialists will certainly want to have a well-rounded collection of work at the ready to show prospective employers.
But the other side of this is marketing. Sure, you might have a few great pieces in your portfolio, but how are potential clients or employers going to see how you work? How can you get them to clearly understand that your knowledge will help them acquire a competitive edge in their business as a whole? Will they understand your process enough to sign on with you for a major project?
You have to not only learn the new skill but understand how to show the right people the right skill set, which often will include tandem business and communication skills that demonstrate you know how to communicate and work with a business.
3. Understand Consumer Behaviour
The old model of interruptive marketing is out, and there's a new one in town, where consumers have more options and more access than ever before.
One-click purchasing and moment-marketing are two examples of ways that consumers are purchasing online these days.
They are stepping away from interruptive marketing and into something that's characterized by a high level of choice and access.
The result is that the marketing and business theories you may have learned in business school ten years ago are probably entirely different or are at least heading in a different direction.
Show that you can market on this basis and that you know some current lingo and you'll be noticed.
4. Start Your Own Projects
In order to get practice, you’ll have to put in the work on your own, and this is true whether you officially get certified as a digital marketer or not. Part of this is building a portfolio, and another part is demonstrating how well you can think and learn for yourself.
You have to be learning on an ongoing basis for the rest of your working life to stay competitive in this industry, so you may as well go for it now, and share your knowledge with the world as a part of your personal marketing.
5. Be a Leader
These days a lot of people are working for themselves or joining smaller teams of people with diverse skills. You need to be able to showcase your capacity to lead in a business and marketing context (or whatever your speciality is) in a big way.
So, this doesn’t mean you have to technically lead projects, but if you have freelanced, for instance, you can talk about how you've managed your own business, developed project plans with clients, and addressed your accounting among other things.
The point is to show that you can take the initiative and stay organised but also work with others in a leadership capacity. You need to be able to come up with original ideas and not be afraid to talk about them in front of a group.
If you have a speciality, you should behave as an influencer by developing a distinct online presence. Building authority in this way is a great way to establish yourself as an expert and come out on top.
6. Social Media Knowledge
Speaking of influencers, social media is no longer a “might have” type of skill – it’s a must-have. Even if you don't specialize in it, you should really know the basics and be able to run a few different social media accounts easily and not only 'post' cool images and phrases but be able to truly engage within a social network.
Even if social media isn't your speciality, demonstrating a solid grasp of the channels and their use is necessary if you're pursuing a career in digital marketing.
One of the benefits of joining online classes or another type of group training program is that you'll be able to meet peers who are in the same situation as you.
But it’s not only classes where you’ll meet people – you probably already know how simple it is to network online or join a digital community and it’s definitely worth your while to start doing so early.
Whether you're interested in discovering more about a particular field or you're already in the field and want to push yourself further, here are a few things you can do to move your career forward:
- Use LinkedIn to contact people at companies or in jobs that you like for informational interviews.
- Search Facebook for groups of interest.
- Scan Twitter for job postings and to have quick conversations about topics in your area of interest.
- Go to meet-ups and conferences when possible.
- Find a mentor and arrange for a discussion with them.
8. Get Technical
Even if you're not planning on going into anything overly technical, you should have a basic understanding of Web Design & SEO - this can genuinely help move you forward.
These facets of the business are essential to know because you'll likely be working with a team on content and marketing activities. So you'll need to be able to discuss such things in some depth in order to ensure a successful digital marketing strategy is adhered to.
9. Get Certified at a Credible Institution
At every turn, you probably see classes for marketing, copywriting, and maybe even more technical stuff like coding – many of which you can take from the comfort of your own home. But don't just go taking anything that 'looks good.'
Do some research first. Why? Many employers and even clients will be looking at legitimate training. They need to be able to do a quick search to find out if your skills.
There's a lot of valuable information you can learn online on your own, and it's essential that you keep learning new things because the field is continually changing. However, getting an education from a credible institution will definitely give you a competitive edge over your peers.
10. Online Training
The benefits of learning online and even on your mobile devices are vast: you can learn anywhere, you can take courses at your own pace, and sometimes these courses are cheaper than courses in traditional institutions.
Also, there's a ton of pressure to be skilled, and companies that are falling behind will lose their competitive edge – thus, the demand is there. These companies may just need talented people to step in and ensure that they’re on the path to success and profit. Creative agencies are also often hiring, and more and more digital agencies are popping up.
Make it your job to show them exactly how you can help generate profit. Do this by developing a clear and unique portfolio, and marketing yourself in such a way that is not only genuine but also valuable.
If you love it, you should be able to improve your skills in your spare time without having it feel like work.