Lessons I’ve learned in my first 10 years as a marketing professional

It is very strange to say that I am reaching my tenth anniversary working in marketing. The time has flown by and it doesn’t seem so long ago I was starting my first marketing job, but looking back so much has changed in this time, for both me and the industry.

On a personal level I have gone from lone wolf in a small business, to managing a team in a very fast growing business as it develops in to a medium sized business. The industry itself has gone through some huge changes in terms of both technology (e.g. social media did not exist) and attitudes towards consumers.


Reflecting upon how much both myself, and marketing as an industry has changed over the past 10 years, here five key lessons I have learned that I think are worth sharing.

You have to adapt to the shifting sands of marketing

I was very careful to include “first 10 years” in the title of this blog post because I strongly believe the minute you stop learning in marketing you stop being great at your job.

This is true now more than ever with new technologies and ideas being presented on an almost daily basis. If you don’t have the desire or energy to continue evolving in line with marketing, you will fall behind very quickly.

New ideas and technology that I personally have had to embrace so I don’t become out of date or stale include social media, huge changes to the way Google ranks websites, concepts such as “gamification”, the rise of m-commerce, and the increased emphasis on proactive online reputation management.

Sometimes the most creative ideas don’t work

There have been a number of times when I have been involved in campaigns that were based on a really good, creative and original idea (well-conceived and planned as well) only to see it fail to deliver the expected impact on sales or brand equity.

When this happens it can cause a lot of introspection and soul searching as to why. This is especially true if you have out your heart and soul in to developing it from idea to execution.

Sometimes there is no one easily definable reason you can point to, however another lesson I have learned is to K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Stupid), which leads to…

The simplest ideas are usually the most effective

I have talked about K.I.S.S in a previous blog post, and it is an area I apply to my working life on a daily basis.

Sure, it is nice to reinvent the wheel, but the most effective campaigns and marketing are more often than not based around simple concepts that consumers understand instantly.

In short, the more complicated you make the message or the steps required to complete, apply or fulfil your desired action, the lower your conversion rate.

Absorb as much information as possible

In my opinion reading a marketing magazine article or blog post is never wasted time at work.

In fact I’d argue spending a few hours a week reading makes you, and your team, better at their jobs and inspires new ideas the business will benefit from.

There are some fantastic marketing websites out there and a business would be mad to discourage their marketing team learning from them.

Buzzwords come and go but the basic principles remain

As I have discussed before there are certain fashionable terms and buzzwords that grind my gears.

Content marketing and inbound marketing are good examples of very hip and now concepts that are basically the same ideas we have applied as an industry for decades but repacked and re-spun (well, I suppose we are marketers) to sound like a revolutionary step forward.

The basic principles of segmentation, targeting and positioning combined with relevancy, context and timing are still at the core of any marketing.

I have come across many marketers who seem to have skipped the basic strategic foundations and jumped straight in to the tactical end of the pool.

This means they know what they should be doing, but they don’t know why. It is the equivalent of knowing the answer is 4 but not that you need to use 2+2 to get to that answer.

Are there any lessons you have learned during your time in marketing? Leave a comment below, I’d love to read them.

One thought on “Lessons I’ve learned in my first 10 years as a marketing professional

  1. A digital marketer always has to adapt. If one stays stagnant they are no longer relevant and can not employ up to date solutions to meet every changing trends. Good read over all.

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