Five ways to get ahead – and stay ahead – in digital marketing

Just over 10 years ago I pulled up in a car park in Warrington. I was a couple of minutes late after naively misjudging how bad the traffic would be on the 25-mile drive from Rochdale.

Flustered, apprehensive but excited I pressed the buzzer on the intercom to get into the building. A voice crackled through: “Hello, Corporem Global.”

“Erm… hello. I’m starting work today.”

And so began my career in digital.

It’s been a rollercoaster ride that’s moved at near breakneck speed ever since. Thankfully the journey so far has had far more ups than downs, and I feel immensely lucky to be part of this fantastic industry.

The opportunities within the world of digital – and digital agencies – remain huge, but this isn’t a free ride.

You have to invest yourself, your time and often your sanity if you’re to succeed. And there isn’t a training course that will provide you with what you need.

So here are my top five tips for how to get ahead, and stay ahead, in digital:

1. Aim to understand

From day one in your career you should learn to question what you’re being told and understand why you’re being told it.

Why are you being asked to do something in a particular way? Why, when you do something, does it produce a particular result? Why are you presenting information in a certain way?

Often there will be good reason, but only through going through a process of understanding can you start to influence things in a positive way.

2. Read more

We’re lucky to operate in an industry where, and at a time when, people openly and willingly share their experiences on a daily basis.

Spending 10 minutes reading a blog post or white paper could spark ideas that make you a more rounded practitioner.

Of course, not everything you read will be useful.

But you’ll learn to filter the good from the bad, and pull out the insights that are of use.

3. Document your thoughts

I think I published my first blog post in 2006, and have been sporadically writing ever since.

A lot of my early thoughts were ill informed, ill-thought out pieces – but that didn’t stop me!

I always found that writing things down made me think through and consider the impact of changes in the digital landscape, and bring through practical implications.

Rather than just reading the news, I thought about it, considered how it might impact me, and documented it.

It doesn’t have to be made public – these could be your own journal notes. It’s just about whatever makes you think more deeply and…

4. Develop an opinion

Don’t let the world wash over you.

Read, absorb, understand and then develop an opinion.

I’ve held many opinions on hundreds of topics over the years. In hindsight, many of them were wrong.

But that shouldn’t stop you having an opinion, as long as you are open minded enough to consider alternative views.

5. Put yourself forward

Only through new challenges and new experiences do you push your own boundaries.

Put yourself forward for new challenges, projects and experiences that take you out of your comfort zone.

Whether it’s public speaking opportunities, industry groups where you can learn and network, or anything else – put your hand up and get involved. It’s a great way to keep learning and developing.

These five tips are not just for getting ahead; they also help you stay ahead.

Keep practising them and keep pushing yourself and the world of digital marketing offers great opportunities. Over to you…

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