Ask Ken – Hit the Ground Running in Marketing or eCommerce
Ask Ken features questions that come to me via email, social media, on the phone, or others.
The names on the questions have been held for privacy – but if the person that asked recognizes their question – you can always respond and add more in the comments below!
Question: How to “Hit the Ground Running” in eCommerce or Digital Marketing
I’m seeking advice on how to hit the ground running as I pursue a career in eCommerce and Digital Marketing. Additionally, I’d like to find a mentor/coach that can steer me in the right direction, but only if I can figure out a way to provide equal or more value into their career.
The best advice about starting in this area is to go where the market is going.
Most new (and even experienced) marketers focus too much on what they have to offer rather than understanding it’s about what a customer wants and needs.
Commerce of all kinds is based on emotions: trust, fear, desire, longing, curiosity, or hunger.
It’s why diamond commercials focus on romance, beer commercials focus on friendship, and you see ads that make no sense other than provoking deep thoughts and feelings.
The good news is that most products or services fit into this model, but it’s all about getting to know your market first.
There’s a few simple ways to do this:
1) Have as many conversations as you can. Ask questions. Make notes of the answers you’re getting. What are the words people use? What are the feelings they describe? How does what you offer, or what you will offer, meet that need?
2) Do market research. There are so many free tools now, especially Facebook Insights, that can give you some ideas about what your market is already watching, reading, or seeking out. You’ll notice trends. Is it motivation? Is it training? Is it entertainment? What do they want and how does your strategy help you attract them in ways that you already know work?
3) Start taking shots early. You’re going to miss a ton. That’s why it’s important to start, mess things up, learn from the mistakes, and move forward. Most people never actually start, never have a conversation, or actually get to the marketing phase.
Ideas are great. Wanting to start is even better.
Get started now. Worry about the details later.
Question: Advice on a Career Transition Between Industries
I’d like advice as to what steps I can take to move from my job as an IT Technician to more of a business development job with a new company. I have a degree in Business Economics but all of my experience is in I.T. What do you see as the pros and cons? And what are some challenges I might face?
I think I know many, or more people who are actually not working in the area of their degree than I know people who stuck with it from school to their career.
For example, one of my biggest marketing mentors had a Political Science degree. Another one had an Exercise Physiology degree.
Both of these degrees have nothing to do with sales and marketing – yet they were successful business owners in that space.
This means that the answer to making that transition is going to have everything to do with three things:
- How you develop and leverage your network.
- The skills you choose to focus on and develop.
- How you position yourself for what opportunities are offered to you.
Even if you’re highly skilled and experienced in a field, most companies are still going to take you through training process to do things the way they want, which will be extremely enlightening on how to accomplish your objectives on the job.
So, how does this translate into what to do?
1) Start networking with other professionals in the industry now.
Go to events.
Get into groups.
Start talking to people and asking the industry specific questions.
Are there certifications you can get that would help?
Are there areas that they’re using on the job every single day?
Are there common goals or objectives in the position you’re targeting?
If so, all of this can give you a head start as well as people who can connect you to opportunities.
2) Make it known to your existing network that you’re looking for opportunities or resources in the new industry.
You’d be surprised at how far your existing connections may be able to take you into your transition.
You never know who they know!
3) Tailor your online profiles, sites, and brand toward the new position rather than the old.
In the end the whole world is about marketing, positioning, and networking. This can open any door or get you into any field or industry.
Question: What Skills Make You an Effective Leader?
I am likely to be leading a stand-alone business unit in the near future. I would like to get advice on different ways to improve my leadership capabilities? What skills are needed to become an effective leader?
The best way to learn is by DOING – but getting help AS you’re doing.
Coaches, mentors, or other groups of leaders are invaluable to your growth. But they work best when you’ve already started taking action.
The one thing no one can teach you is to START.
When it comes to leadership, it’s important to remember that you’re responsible for setting the tone, the pace, and developing anyone that works with you.
They’re looking to you for the vision, the goal, and what things to do in what order.
You’re looking to them for their skill and specific results.
The lack of specific goals or expecting results is one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in leadership.
Since I love to develop people and see them for their potential, that doesn’t always translate to what the business needs in the here and now.
Being a leader is the hardest part of a business.
It’s a place where you’ll fail often and have to learn from the lessons as they happen.
Seek advice. Ask for help.
But do it after you’ve started your journey…