Making a task personal by Marketing Myself
I sat down across from my CEO at my year review. I’d just spent several months unnecessarily doing double the work of a coworker. I’d been documenting my efforts, but fortunately in the end I didn’t have to convince anyone of it. He was fired a couple of months before my review even came up.
The review consisted of me giggling a lot and the CEO staring me down in a teasing manner. We’ve known each other a while and have always worked well together, so on a level the review was mostly, “You’re doing a good job – keep doing that.”
But then he got serious about it and asked me where I wanted to be this time next year. What were my goals? I mentioned that up to that point my pursuits were initiative based; I saw a need and filled it, so I turned it back around on him – what did our company need?
I can work with front end code all day long. Need to know why your CSS has elements floating out in space? I’m the girl you call. Need a responsive framework skinned on a site? I don’t even break a sweat. Want a modal or hovering sub menu? Need some annoying widget as a call to action to grab attention? Look no further.
My weak point has been design. It’s not what I started out doing and marketing is it’s own beast. Mix that with UX design and it’s a whole other overwhelming area of the internet – mostly in just how big of a subject it is.
If you’ve ever heard of the Golden Unicorn though, saying no these days isn’t really an option. I believe these pieces/concepts of development will eventually break off reliably into their own areas. Telling an HR person that front end development and back end development are two different things currently is still a hairy conversation, but I think many companies are starting to pick it up. It’s just getting to be too much to know.
I was starting on learning back end development, but that’s taken a mild back seat to the front end and its importance. It doesn’t matter how many people visit your site if it looks like garbage. Now, there are sites out there that convert like crazy despite looking like a 3rd grader slapped it together back in 1995, but for the most part, user interaction and emphasis on key components can make or break online visibility.
His call to attention on marketing then was right, but where to start?
Studying and research: Step 1
I don’t like reading technical books but I do it all the time. I love experimentation and learning in general, but reading about computer programming doesn’t really get me going. It’s one of the best ways to go about things in my field though. Read, read and read some more. Copy code, experiment, fail, debug, keep at it until one day the pieces are less all over the place. They’re never not broken, just, less broken.
Marketing doesn’t really have a right answer. The best way to stand out is to see what everyone else is doing and do something different. Yet, grabbing attention isn’t enough. You need quality products/services/ideas or no one will care that you stand out. Otherwise you’ll end up standing out for being bad.
Consumer engagement is HUGE right now. Companies all over are about building relationships. Social media is both a blessing and a giant pit. You can be hired on for PR to manage a Twitter account. Creating a conversation with customers is just as important as what you provide as a company. Those who don’t engage fail.
What is marketing though? It’s that process of communicating value. How do you write that down into actionable items? Even though there isn’t much of a right answer there are many wrong answers. Watching a campaign tank because you actually managed to turn off your customer base can be devastating.
And the market – there’s so much to know. But not all of it can be gleaned from a book.
The whole point is converting. Getting the sale. For companies in the know, the transaction lasts much longer than the exchange of goods or services for money, because it’s much easier to maintain a relationship than build a new one.
For my part and what I do, I haven’t any control on half the equation, the quality of goods or services. Not all of my clients get this either, but I’d say most understand. I can dress up a site and make it as fun to play around with as possible, but it won’t change pages and pages of search engine bad reviews or dissatisfaction of clients who get poor customer service or crappy experiences with the service or good itself. I could easily say that’s not my problem, but I believe it would be a disservice to my clients to take that stance. In order to understand marketing I have to understand how the whole package works.
Epiphany at the Hair Dresser
As I’m sitting in a salon chair getting my hair done, wondering why I spend so much money on it in the first place, it dawns on me that it’s just packaging. What is the product? I am. I’m selling myself in most every conversation and encounter. I get where some might consider this a negative outlook, but for me it’s not. In understanding that’s what’s happening, I can better tailor the conversation. My general appearance is communicating value.
Yet, that’s only one half of the equation. I can dress myself up and look amazing all day, but the real value has to actually be there. Whether that means being a good person or really developing my work skills.
It works conversely as well: if I have the skills or internal self worth but can’t package them, no one will care.
There’s nothing like making a pursuit personal to make it mean something. Over the next year I’ll be developing all areas of my personal marketing campaign, testing several concepts along the way to see how it all works.
As I spend all day staring at a computer, I’ve not put a ton of attention into makeup as a day to day routine because I haven’t seen much point.
I’ve recently changed this and to my surprise people notice. I’ve gotten a lot of comments and I find the reaction very fascinating.
I of course will continue to develop my overall knowledge, but that side of things has never been difficult for me. As I develop my “packaging”, I’ll write about it because, well, the internet needs to know.