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How does a veteran marketer break into digital?

Many traditional marketers approach me, asking how to break into digital marketing. It’s a legitimate question, because there are many employers who will not consider a marketer who doesn’t have experience in digital. So, I give all the standard advice that they should take a certificate course in digital marketing and they should do volunteer work in digital marketing (internships) if they can’t find someone to pay them.

But I often come across people who tell me that they did all that already. No one will give them a chance. What’s worse is that some have stopped trying because so many rejections have come in already. They are sure that they can’t be hired because they have no experience.

It’s harsh, but what I tell them is that the reason that they are not being hired is that they aren’t that good at marketing–themselves.

I mean, if your customer didn’t buy the first five, ten, or one hundred times you asked, you wouldn’t give up. You would just keep plugging away until you finally figured out the persuasive power that will topple over their objections. That’s what marketers do.

So, you can’t crumble into a puddle of goo when it comes time to market yourself. You must analyze your target audience (employers) and identify what will be persuasive to them. What do they need that they don’t know they need? When they say they need digital marketing experience, what else do they need that you can suggest to them?

  • A knowledge of marketing. It’s great that 20-somethings are experts at using Facebook, but they would really benefit from your knowledge of marketing. Reverse mentor each other instead of competing, and you will both benefit. You will learn digital, and they will learn marketing. Employers don’t know they need this, but they do.
  • A knowledge of their industry. Is it enough to know digital marketing but not know the industry? Probably not. Can you help the rest of the team with your experience? Stake out industries where you can make this claim credibly.
  • A knowledge of sales. Most marketers, especially B2B marketers, have experience in working with sales teams, if not actually being a salesperson. The ability to cross silos is becoming more important than ever, and cooperation between marketing and sales can be immensely valuable to a company. Sell yourself.

You’re probably getting the idea. Approach your job search as one more marketing job. Don’t start blaming the product (you) when all that’s needed is a thoughtful approach to show your true value–and to get the employer to think more broadly about what he really needs.

Mike Moran

Mike Moran is a Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also served as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website,, most recently as the Manager of Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He was a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research and is now a Senior Fellow of The Conference Board. A Certified Speaking Professional, Mike regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide

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