January 8th is National Career Coaching Day! Maybe you just learned this national day exists (like me!) — or maybe you’re planning an epic Y2K-style throwdown with your favorite mentors to honor this momentous occasion. To each their own!
At Invoca, we’re celebrating by chatting with our innovative customers as well as our CMO, Dee Anna McPherson, to get their top career advice for marketers. In the spirit of Career Coaching Day, we’re sharing their wisdom to help you — yes you! — take your marketing career to the next level! Check out some of their top tidbits and nuggets of wisdom below.
“I think one of the biggest mistakes is miscommunication or lack of communication altogether. Consumers expect a seamless omnichannel journey, but many companies aren’t connecting their channels. Their departments are siloed and they often don’t collaborate. This creates friction in the buying journey and decreases conversion rates.”
“A common mistake marketers make is ignoring the data. A lot of marketers are scared to look at data as the source of truth. If the data doesn’t make them look good, they’ll misrepresent it and cherrypick numbers from it. This causes problems down the line, when their future strategies fail.
I’ve also seen a lot of marketers who are scared to take risks. Taking risks is a really important part of growing — as long as those risks are calculated and informed by data. If you don’t take risks, you’ll get stuck in the same patterns and ways of doing things. This is a huge problem because technology and customer expectations are always changing. What worked four or five, three years ago, two years ago doesn’t work today. To adapt, you need to be comfortable with taking risks and failing.
Another mistake I see is that marketers want to present so many messages that they forget about focusing on the brand’s core identity. It’s important to have a slogan people instantly think of when they see your brand, so they know who you are, what you sell, and what differentiates you from the competition. Without a strong brand identity, you can easily confuse your customers and complicate the path to purchase.”
“I often see teams jumping in and running campaigns without first doing the hard work to define the goals and the strategy. It's doing, and then figuring out a strategy later. It should be the other way around. You should have a strategy and a hypothesis. You should be able to test what you're going to do instead of jumping in and saying, ‘Oh, maybe this will work.’
To change that mindset, you need to look hard at your data. Then you can create concrete goals around that.”
“Losing sight of the goal. Our job as marketers is to meet people where they are and tell them how our brand, service, and product can meet their needs. Sometimes we get concerned about trying to do something “flashy” or “unique” and forget our brand identity and core customer. This makes the attempt feel inauthentic and cheap.
The other mistake is being disconnected from the core mission of the company. A marketing team can promise anything, but if it’s disconnected from the core mission, product, or service, then it does everyone a disservice. Align your message with who the company is. If you don’t like the company's mission and who they are at the core, you won’t change that with a fabricated marketing message.”
“I often see marketers at much smaller companies trying to replicate results of Fortune 500s. Don’t try to be Apple, Nike, etc. Instead, take a deep assessment of where your company and product are at. This can be very different, as the company could be at mass adoption, but the product could be at an early adopter stage. Do the things that match that stage — or even one stage below — as you’re probably overestimating how much people care.”
“Crafting a narrative first and then cherry-picking data to support it, rather than letting the data tell the story. Sometimes this is a failure of leadership above marketers or pressure from clients, but often marketers have the story and ending in mind before they’ve crunched the numbers.
Also, if a campaign doesn’t land, that’s not a failure; it’s just one step closer to an effort that will be successful.”
“I think people are missing out on a solution like Invoca because they don’t know if they’re ready for it. They’re hesitant because they don’t have every aspect of what they’re trying to do planned out. But to have success with conversation intelligence, you don’t have to have all the answers. Just take the plunge and let the data guide you. You shouldn’t implement Invoca to confirm ideas that you already have about your business. You should be open to whatever you may find.”
“Making non-data-driven decisions is the biggest mistake that I see marketers make. Publishing creative that appeals to themselves vs the masses is also a waste of time and capital.
Partner with companies that can provide big data and data mining functionality to craft more engaging creative, partner with a company like Invoca to manage the spend, and you’re already ahead of the game.”
“A lot of marketers ignore things that haven’t worked for them in the past instead of taking the opportunity to revisit them and tweak their strategies. For example, we used to do direct mail campaigns and they didn’t perform that well for us. We recently tried them again and they became one of our most effective channels. We also started sending out postcards and that effort increased our sales revenue by 12%. Now that more people are working from home, they’re actually taking the time to look through all of their mail.
We’ve also had a lot of success with placements in advertorial magazines, especially publications about home improvement. I thought newspapers and print publications were dying, and everything was going digital. But when one magazine gave us an incentive to place a free full-page ad, we had to try it. Turns out, it was a huge lead driver.
So, I would tell other marketers to be willing to revisit past strategies. You may find a new angle that can change the game for you. If you have to spend a little bit of your budget to experiment with something, you can always back out. It just doesn't hurt to give it a try. Just make sure you’re collecting all the metrics you need to measure your success.”
“One of the biggest mistakes marketers can make is not taking time to listen to your customers’ wants and needs. A great deal of time, energy, and marketing funds are wasted when you don’t understand your audience.
To better understand and serve your customers, you should expand your channel reach to include technologies you’re not using today, if possible.”
"A big mistake I see marketers making is playing it too safe. My best results have come from executing things that made me nervous because they were so bold."
“When you’re early in your career, move around so you don’t get stuck in one specific area or channel. Learn as much as you can about the human side of marketing as well as the AI and analytics side, because both are important. This will help you get as wide of a perspective as possible.”
“A lot of young people reach out to me on LinkedIn and I admire them so much because they're like, "Hey Kellyanne, I graduate in a couple years. What’s the marketing world like? Give me some advice." The thing I always tell them is to continue to push yourself out of your comfort zone, and reach out to people that you don't know because they remember that.
I also tell young marketers to have patience. We live in a world of instant gratification and that can lead us to forget the importance of hard work and consistency. Some young people say, “Hey, I’m doing my job really well. I want a promotion.” But the company hired you to do your job. What are you doing to go above and beyond? What stretch projects are you taking on? How are you pushing yourself to grow your skills?
My last piece of advice is that it's okay not have everything figured out. In my career, I've had so many different marketing roles. Each time I switched roles, I made sure that the move would help push me toward doing more of what I enjoyed. So, find what you’re passionate about and do everything you can to turn that into a career. Just know that it might take a few tries to figure it out.”
“When you start your career, you need to be brave and trying new things. Always make sure you’re measuring your results, adjusting accordingly, and testing again. Don't get stuck in the rut of doing the same thing over and over and over just because your team has always done it that way.
The most successful marketers are lifelong learners. The industry changes by the day. Keep up on your skills, pay attention, and absorb as much knowledge as you can.”
“Intentionally learn about all of the new tools, platforms, and specialty areas as they enter the marketing arena and be open to evolving! Fifteen years ago traditional media was king and people would have laughed at the idea of spending marketing dollars on an online social platform. SEO, digital advertising, social media teams, online influencers, and streaming services are all relatively new and have revolutionized how we talk to our audience.
No one knows what the world has in store in 2036. But you can be sure it will look completely different from today and you’ll want to be equipped when it comes!”
“It doesn't matter where you start — get so good at what you do that ‘they’ can’t ignore you. While on the path to excellence, don’t get distracted. Don’t get sucked into other people’s BS. Be helpful, but don’t be a doormat for lazy coworkers or poor managers. Your excellence should earn you the opportunity to take on a bigger challenge or role. If you’re denied, find a new team or company that values what you do. Every job is hard work if you’re pushing yourself to be great, so you might as well work for a company that is aligned with your core beliefs.”
“Never stop learning, never put all your eggs in one basket, and try to stay on top of industry trends. So often there’s a push toward specialization but that only works if you grow with your specialty or if what you specialize in remains stagnant, which is rare.
There’s a lot to be said about generalization and knowing a little about a lot, particularly when it comes to leadership. Being a technical expert doesn’t mean much without people skills if you want to be a leader. As a leader and a manager, it’s not always important that you be able to precisely do the thing in question but that you know how to lead and support those who do.”
“When you find something that you’re passionate about, work doesn't feel like work. And it can be hard to find that kind of passion. But when you do, you should embrace it and follow it wherever it takes you. “
“Learn the foundational concepts of marketing first. Traditional marketing strategy has existed for years because it works. Learn how to effectively manage digital, direct, and other marketing channels but don’t be afraid to test strategies that appeal to Millennials, Gen Z, and even Gen Alpha customers to stay ahead of the curve.”
“When you’re starting your career, it’s really important to understand what other marketers are doing. Take that meeting, read that newsletter, attend that conference, join that webinar — immerse yourself. Each of these opportunities will give you valuable nuggets of information.
Over time, these will build up and you’ll have a whole toolkit of marketing strategies you can use in your day-to-day.”
“Never stop learning and never stop asking questions. If you can find a mentor, this can be extremely helpful — it will give you a chance to soak up all the wisdom they’ve learned during their long careers.”
"Get exposure to a range of marketing disciplines and approaches. Either start at an agency or move around within your marketing organization. Be open to unexpected opportunities. There is something magical about the beginner mindset, so embrace it. Seasoned practitioners sometimes run a playbook over and over or become cynical. Fresh eyes and fresh thinking can be so valuable to a team."
Countless marketers have advanced their careers by using Invoca to improve marketing ROI — and prove it their leadership team. Check out these resources to learn more: