To catch you up if you missed my post from last week, I’m off into a new career direction of consulting.
I was so overwhelmed with gratitude for all of the messages of support, and somewhat surprised to hear from many others that they struggle with similar “self-branding” issues.
In my last post I promised to share my process with you. I tried a number of different methods to refine my offering, and some worked better than others.
Here’s what I’ve got so far.
Method #1: Listen to Graduation Speeches and Drink Wine
The way I felt last week reminded me of College Janet, who would sometimes get so overwhelmed with the amount of work she had that instead of starting it she’d nap and/or watch Boy Meets World re-runs.
I’m a sucker for a great motivational chat, and graduation speeches never cease to deliver.
I definitely sipped wine and listened to Conan O’Brien’s 2011 Dartmouth College graduation speech on repeat for a long time last Wednesday.
(The really good stuff starts at 14:00.)
We’re all friends here and I’m just putting this fact out there.
Method rating: 5/5. (This was clearly a productive use of time.)
Method #2: The Interests/Talents Matrix
I returned to a spreadsheet that I made a few months ago, which is a matrix of things I like to do, things I’m good at, things I’m still learning, things I don’t like to do but am good at, and how much I’d charge accordingly.
This is a helpful exercise. Between the changing nature of marketing and the economy, we all need to be proactive about our career paths. Knowing where your interests lie and what you are naturally good at will help you define your path.
That said, this exercise does tend to encourage you to think very tactically. A lot of tactics, like writing, are viewed as a commodity. Whether that is right or wrong is a conversation for another post. The fact of the matter is that I’d have to write a lot of blog posts to pay the rent.
Method rating: 3/5 stars
Method #3: Pricing a Janet
I thought through how I would package and price a Janet.
I found this article in Forbes from a few years ago which details how to price a pair of boat shoes. It included analysis like this:
I created a similar set of charts as the ones in the post, only instead of comparing boat shoes I compared myself to other marketing peeps.
By doing this, I discovered this marketing consultant scale of sorts; on the one side, marketing communications/brand strategy gurus and on the other side, technical user acquisition experts who eat MySQL for breakfast.
I fall somewhere in the middle – creative, but know how to take data into consideration and know how to use the “stuff” – Google Analytics, WordPress, Excel, HubSpot, Marketo etc. Instead of being self-conscious about not being either extreme, I’m trying to embrace this middle ground. It’s versatile.
Method rating: 3/5 stars
Method #4: Looking at Marketing Instead of Looking at Me
I still felt discouraged after all of this.
Self-reflection is an inward process focused on mistakes and achievements and experiences of the past. I found it difficult to directly apply those lessons to my future.
I also quickly grew bored of myself – thinking about myself and talking to myself.
So I scratched the spreadsheets and charts and doubt. I bought a coffee and went for a walk. I thought outwardly. I thought about what startups get wrong about marketing – simply that – and now this week I am defining what I can do to help.
Here is some stuff that needs improving:
1) Lack of process around content creation.
Guest blogging programs, editorial calendars, data reports, getting non-marketers to contribute content, editing content, defining a brand voice…these are things that run through a content marketer’s mind at a startup.
Through trial and error people find a process that works for them. This discovery process can take a really really long time. Startups don’t have a long time to find what works.
Of course there are blog posts written about ideal processes for content marketing, but these don’t take into account the unique goals and politics of each company.
I wish I had someone coach me through the content process when I was just starting out. It would’ve saved me a ton of time and given me a lot more focus.
2) Too much focus on the top-of-the-funnel.
Startups – especially startups with young marketers – focus on top-of-the-funnel stuff like social media, blog posts, leads, and signups.
I can relate. Pageviews and RT’s are fun. It’s exciting to see your data report in TechCrunch. It feels like progress, and progress feels great.
It often isn’t until churn is an issue that startups consider creating content for other parts of the funnel. This content includes on-boarding instructions for new customers, product updates for current customers, sales collateral to help close opportunities, and retention nurturing. These things require more product knowledge, coordination of resources, and buy-in than cranking out “10 tips” posts. When under pressure, we tend to stick with what we know.
Startups need to plan through the whole customer lifecycle when they are planning content. LTV, potential evangelists, access to resources for additional top-of-the-funnel activity, and future investment depend on this.
Earlier in my career, I wish I had someone give me some real talk about the stuff I spent time on. I wish someone had opened my eyes to the other parts of the customer lifecyle that also needed my attention. It would have helped me prioritize.
3) Content is marketing.
Content shouldn’t sit in a silo.
It’s the currency for every other area of marketing – PR, paid acquisition, social media, product marketing etc. Without the blog, the intricacies of a product update would be awkwardly squished into a lengthy customer email. Without eBooks, there isn’t any content to syndicate for paid acquisition.
Content marketing shouldn’t just be some 24-year-old who “writes our blog” off in a corner. Teams need coaching on how to work together.
Method rating: 5/5 stars
In my next post I’m going to go into more detail about these things and how I see myself helping out with these things.
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