People often ask me how I ended up in the Internet marketing industry, and in all honesty, it just kind of happened. I couldn’t be happier about joining the team at SEER, and my brain has become a sponge since I started a mere two weeks ago. I’ve been welcomed by some awesome people and have already learned a great many things that I didn’t know before. It’s going to be an unforgettable journey; that much I know.
Prior to entering the Internet marketing industry a bit over a year ago, I was a teacher. I taught Literacy to students in middle and high school, and obviously my original intent was to take a much different career path when I obtained my Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Elementary Education and Literacy. After my time educating the youth of the world, I decided to explore a different route and put my creative mind to work elsewhere.
But, I digress. Since entering into the world of the Internet as my career and especially since joining the awesome crew at SEER, I have noticed quite a few similarities between my former career as a teacher and my more recent beginnings in Internet marketing, which may be surprising to some.
Ah, change. We all know that the Internet varies every minute of every hour of every day, and teaching is no different. Take a moment to imagine meeting with small groups of teenagers each day and making valiant efforts to teach them reading and writing; needless to say, there’s no way to predict what every day might bring and sometimes it was akin to pulling teeth.
My students were not only changing in their education and ways of learning, but also physically and emotionally, making the process that much more unpredictable. There’s no way to tell the future of how a student may change which presents a big challenge, but the best you can do as a teacher is to rise up to it and teach to the best of your ability.
Keeping up with the Internet is no easy feat either. We have to deal with constant uncertainty – look at Google, shelling out Panda and Penguin (what creature might come next?) Only time will tell.
You teach and it doesn’t work. So reteach! You try something new in Internet marketing and it’s an epic fail. That’s how we learn what does or doesn’t work, and we try again.
Failure is nothing new in education or in Internet marketing. When I was teaching reading and writing, I had to differentiate my lessons while structuring them holistically so that they would (hopefully) be comprehensible and fruitful for all types of personalities, skill levels, and learning styles. Often times I would teach my lesson only to go back later and asses my students to discover, to my obvious dismay, that they didn’t retain ANYTHING that I taught. “Ms. Foster, I don’t get it” wasn’t something I wanted to hear.
As frustrating as this may seem, you can’t be afraid of failure as a teacher, and this is exactly how I would learn and decide what my students didn’t understand, i.e. where the failures were and how I could be a problem solver and fix them. Was I not clear in my objectives? Did I not go in-depth enough with my expectations? Did I assume that they had successfully recalled and connected to a prior lesson? Based on my findings, I would reteach and hope for a (more) positive outcome and ultimately, mastery of the topic.
The same concept holds true with Internet marketing. For instance, say you do some competitive analysis to see what your competitors are doing in their own digital marketing plan and decide to follow suit. Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t – and as in teaching, it takes consistent evaluation and adjustment as needed. If your efforts don’t lead to conversion, well then, something didn’t work out right and you’ll need to decipher exactly what that was in order to rectify the problem. In essence, success should hopefully commence thereafter, but as with teaching and many other things in life, it’s a process.
The overall objective in teaching is that you want your students to grow and learn as a result of what you bring to the table as their educator. You want them to pick up and retain new things they may not have known how to do the day before and be confident enough to take it with them as they progress. This could be something as seemingly simple as learning to compose an essay correctly, and they should feel positive about their learning and be assured in all that they can accomplish. As a teacher, you strive to give them the tools they need to succeed and help them to grow further into their education and future.
In Internet marketing, we essentially want the same thing – for businesses to grow as a result of effort. A business, similar to a student, may not feel overly confident in the way that they are perceived on the Internet and may dive head-first into Internet marketing efforts in order to change that.
Businesses want to feel good about what they are doing online and off, and effective Internet marketing provides a way for them to grow their business just as education provides students with a way to grow their knowledge and persona as a whole.
Data, data, data. When teaching, it was all about proving that what you had done with your students was relevant and above all, succeeding, and there were often benchmarks from which to work. I was constantly giving my students assessments (most were standardized, some I came up with on the fly) that would provide data exhibiting what worked, what didn’t work, where they had improved (such as decoding, encoding, comprehension, fluency, etc.), and where they may have remained stationary.
This testing and reporting offered a way to track where their strengths and weaknesses were, what aspect of their literacy learning needed the most attention, and would be the foundation for future recommendations.
Data is also an vital part of Internet marketing. How are you going to know if your Internet marketing tactics are working or if they are tanking big time? Take a look at the numbers, take a look at the data, assess and evaluate to see where the strongest points and weaknesses are so that you can address them accordingly.
In education, there are times when parents might be intimidating and overly involved in a child’s education while others may not even be within reach for a parent-teacher conference. But testing, reporting, and correspondence was constant with each and every one. I was always happiest with the parents who were fundamental in the success of their child and above all, cared about how they were doing in class.
In a way, parents are also paying for their child’s education, only in a different form: taxes (unless it’s private school, which is a different story.) So you are required to keep them cognizant of how their child is doing. You might have them sign a test if a student received a bad score, bring them in for periodic meetings to discuss student needs, and give them a simple call to let them know that their child is improving (or not.)
Clients can be similar with regards to updates and reporting on how their program and strategy is going. After all, they are putting their effort and money into something that they are ultimately trusting someone else to envision, plan, and execute.
One thing that I always tried to do for my students was to provide inspiration and improve confidence. I would get to know them as best I could so that I could incorporate things into their daily lessons that they would WANT to learn about (in addition to the boring stuff that they were required to read or write.) I would even journal along with them and often share my own experiences as a reader and writer.
Say a student liked motorcycles; I’d go to the library and find a book that was on their reading level, and they’d be excited to read it and maybe even be willing write a book report (if I was lucky.) Maybe another student hated writing essays but LOVED creative writing. I’d incorporate a small section on poetry so that the student could give way to their creative desires. This would all lead students to realize that reading and writing (or learning in general) didn’t necessarily have to be boring. I would try to make lessons as innovative as possible so that boredom just WASN’T an option and they didn’t dread attending reading class.
In Internet marketing, businesses and clients want to be inspired as well. They want to feel good about what they are doing, confident in the success that they will find with the strategy presented to them, and excited about the results that they can achieve. So they need to be inspired, and this is where suggestions and a true vision for the company come in. They should be enthusiastic about the adventure they are about to embark upon with their efforts, and the same holds true for students.
All in all, both teaching and Internet marketing have the same objective: helping people to reach the goals that they want to reach. In some cases they may not feel secure enough to do it on their own; in others, they may be highly motivated. Granted, in the case of teaching, these goals may be set by a parent, teacher, or school district, but for businesses they rest within their overall company objectives; and this is one of the many reasons that I love where I am today at SEER. I spend my days aiming to help people, which is what I’m most passionate about and couldn’t live a day without doing.
It’s the best feeling in the world to realize success for someone and know that you were there to help see it through, regardless of what career you may hold. Reaching these goals may not be all that simple, but that’s part of what makes it such a special endeavor. I may be on the marketing side of the spectrum, but from day-to-day the target remains the same: supporting and striving to achieve and surpass goals, in turn affording you that indescribable sensation of knowing that you were integral in driving the end result.
So here’s to the future and where my career has taken me, because in reality I’ve ended up where I always wanted and needed to be. Follow me on Twitter at @kerinpatrice.