Differentiating yourself is an important aspect of a long term successful career in digital marketing. If you are perceived as someone of the same skill set and ability as most candidates in the digital marketing industry chances are that you are playing a hit or miss with every job you apply for.
Differentiating yourself is not just about dressing better than the rest or getting an extra degree under your belt. Differentiating is more about how your skills, talent, and education makes you irreplaceable.
It is about bringing the best and the most real version of you and honing it until the whole digital industry sees your brilliance.
Why Differentiating Yourself is Important
Most people are afraid of getting skills which are not “Hot in the market” or saying something which is not “popular belief” because they think they will get ignored or mocked at. The truth is far away from it. An offense is the best way of defense and is a faster way to find both security and success in your career.
1. Higher Job Security
In a cut throat market people who are easily replaceable are the ones who get fired. The one’s easily replaceable are the ones who are like the rest – similar looking resume, similar job roles, and similar salaries. The ones who stay are the ones who have proved the ROI they provide to their business. The one with highest job security is the one who the company knows that they can’t find a replacement to your passion, hard work, and brilliance.
2. Draw a Higher Salary
You get paid not just for the work you do but also for how the company perceives your value. If you have a skill set which is difficult to find in the marketplace you should expect a higher salary by the simple demand to supply economic equation. Having mastery over skills like Web Analytics, Technical SEO and Conversion Rate Optimization can give you a better salary edge over your peers.
3. Get Better Opportunities
If you are good only at digital marketing and applying for a role as a CEO in a digital agency then chances are that 100 other applicants have resumes which are as good as yours. By having proven record of leadership, client servicing, operations, and sales you would have a better shot at this role. An important set of skills most digital marketers shy away from learning because they think it is irrelevant.
Ways To Differentiate Yourself in the Industry
Standing out from the crowd is same as having the courage to say NO to fitting in. Differentiating your self in the digital industry or in fact in any industry requires courage.
1. Start with Self Awareness
Self-awareness is about discovering that aspect of you which makes you unique. Self-awareness is an exercise which can define your career path. It is about dwelling in aspects like strengths, weaknesses, life values and goals.
- Suppose you realize that digital marketing is your passion but your natural talent is selling then you might do great at selling digital marketing services to clients rather can managing accounts and producing bills.
- If you are planning to launch a mobile app and you have zero skills on coding. Hiring a co-founder who would compliment your skills would be the best way to go forward.
- If your life values say that you should spend more time with your family then you might be most happy as a Freelance digital marketer than a full-time employee toiling 12-14 hours at work and traffic.
- If your goal is to amass 50 lakhs in the next 3 years and you are just getting started with digital marketing chances are you might not reach their unless you hustle on a side Affiliate Marketing business every day after work.
Most people don’t think self-awareness is important and as a result, they build on weaknesses they can never master. You knowing your strengths and going all out on it will make you an outlier not brooding over your weaknesses.
2. Develop Self Confidence
Most people have a problem with being confident. Even the most talented people in the industry haven’t developed the skill of self-confidence. You can have an edge over most people by becoming confident and projecting the same at networking events and at work.
We perceive a person’s talent by the amount of confidence she can project. Confidence doesn’t mean we have to be bold because we think we are right. Confidence also means voicing your ideas and being ready to be shot down.
- Talk hard facts and real data: When going to meetings go with data. Once you have made cutting analysis on any aspect of digital marketing you can be more confident in what you say because you have data to back it up.
- Practice and hone your skill: The more you dwell and learn the science and art of digital marketing the more confident you will feel.
- Positive Self Talk: Positive self-talk is a key ingredient build self-confidence. How we talk to our self-permeates every aspect of our action. And every action we perform reflects how people perceive us.
3. Communicate Like a Pro
Great digital marketers tell stories with data. As a digital marketer, your communication needs to be a lot more precise and analytical than the average bloke. While the crowd talks wishful thinking an adept digital marketer talks real data and presents it in a manner so that all levels of management get actionable insights from it.
A digital marketer over the course of her day works with technology, design, product management and marketing teams. She must know to alter her communication style in order to be effective. For instance, a business centric language would work with a manager but might be inappropriate if you want to communicate a SEO requirement to a developer.
4. Show Direct Business Impact of Your Work
Tying your digital marketing efforts to direct business outcome is one of the best aspects of digital marketing. Yet most digital marketers don’t leverage it because they are too lazy to set up conversion goals in Google analytics. Once you show what changes in the website and campaigns led to the X% growth to the company top line you are automatically in the good books of your manager. People remember you for the results you delivered and not the presentations you gave or the emails you sent.
5. Embrace the T-Shape Marketer
The T-Shaped marketer is one who has awareness on most aspects of digital marketing while has an in-depth understanding of one of the channels. The advantage of this approach is that you mitigate the risk of spreading yourself thin while having an irreplaceable expertise in one of the digital marketing channels.
By having an understanding of all aspects of digital you can be more creative and understand how your area of expertise can leverage the momentum from other channels.
By having an in-depth understanding of one channel you can add achieve mastery a key aspect for career happiness. It can also make you irreplaceable as your skill set and level of experience might be difficult to replicate.
6. Find a Skill the Industry Shies Away From and Master it
Most digital marketers start with SEO and then learn PPC. They play around with Google analytics and go off on holiday to ignorance. This makes most digital marketing resumes look the same.
- Your company could receive a 30% uptick in revenue next month if only you knew how to run A/B tests.
- You could communicate your development team on slow money pages if only you took the time to dig into analytics.
- May be you could build more links if only you knew how to market your blog content better.
Skill sets like web analytics, conversion rate optimization, enterprise SEO have been around for many years yet rarely do you see digital marketers focusing their efforts to become good at these. This is a missed opportunity which digital marketers who want to differentiate themselves must capitalize.
7. Personal Branding is Key
Personal branding is how people perceive your skill set. There are multiple ways a recruiter or a client comes to know about you. One way is by Googling your name. You must google your name and see how you might be perceived. Is your website showing up on search? Is your Linkedin profile showing up? If not you might have to work on the richness of your profile.
A simple and direct way of promoting yourself is by having a single page website which showcases your skill, experience, projects, publications, and achievements. How you present yourself establishes a lasting impact on the recruiter’s mind. This single page URL which sits on your own unique domain name can be promoted on a business card at networking events.
Guest posting on top digital marketing blogs is a brilliant way to get in front of an audience and also prove your expertise. One of the things I have been doing is posting on Entrepreneur.com and YourStory.com regularly.
8. Learn to Get Things Done
If you don’t know how to get things done it is better you be a consultant. If you are the go getter in your team you will stand out. While all others pray that someone will turn up and solve the broken <h1> tags on your site you should roll up your sleeves, jump into the code and get it done.
The other aspect of digital marketing is cross functional relevance. You will have to hustle for buy-ins from product managers and developers while you find insights in Google analytics for the management meeting next day. Digital marketing is a multi hat adventure and none of it will happen if you just sit around just “doing your job”. People remember you because you “move the needle” not because you “do your job”.
9. Get Certified by Trusted Sources
Corny as it seems certificates do matter. Especially when you are certified by trusted sources. Certifications give a stamp of authority from top tier companies and training institutes.
For instance, a certificate from Google on Adwords would definitely give your profile more value and trust if you are applying for a digital media buying role. In a marketplace where everyone claims to be an expert, you can get a vote of validation and credibility by getting trusted certificates to support your skills.
If you are new to digital marketing you can get your first free online training and certification here. You will receive a certificate as below.
10. Maintain Healthy Level of Technology Awareness
If you want to be a great digital marketer you must have a reasonable level of awareness of technology. You must understand the medium in order to play with it better. You should know how to optimize the experience, improve engagement of both web and mobile apps. You need not know to code but you must be able to know the possibilities and limitations of the platform you are working on.
Most digital marketers don’t want to get their hands dirty with these aspects because they are not comfortable. If you want to be rock star digital marketer you must be comfortable being uncomfortable.
- Can you write effective Regex and run accurate GA reports?
- Do you know to monitor web site uptime?
- Can you use Google Tag Manager to its highest potential?
- Are you comfortable with optimizing CMS based websites like WordPress and Magento for SEO?
- Are you comfortable with Lookups and Pivot tables in Excel?
- Have you laid a process for technical SEO?
And learning such skills is easy if you have a blog of your own and if you keep experimenting with that blog to hone your skills. Check out the 100-day blogging course if you want to learn digital marketing through blogging.
Things to Remember
Don’t Be a Prick: Standing out from the crowd doesn’t mean you are special. You are a manager doesn’t mean you are superior. Smart leaders and managers prefer to hire people who have a high level of emotional quotient than Intelligence Quotient. Even the best talent and hard work can be overshadowed by bad behavior and haughty attitude.
You Can’t Skip the Hard Work: Differentiating yourself in the marketplace is not a free pass to success. You have to put in real effort and hours of work before you start getting noticed. You might do everything to look special and above the crowd but if the real knowledge, results, and passion don’t match up you might come across as someone who is not genuine.
The best way to get started on differentiating your career is by doing some soul searching. Start by asking –
- What are those skills which my managers and coworkers always appreciated?
- What are my personality traits which my teachers and friends have always appreciated?
- Which area of digital marketing do I have the most passion for?
- Which events should I visit to get better exposure to my skills?
- What do recruiters and managers see when they Google my name? How can influence their decision making?
Once you have answers to these questions and start executing on the ideas in the blog post you will start getting noticed for your skills.
Any questions? Leave a comment below!