An Accidental Beginning

I too, like most of us started my career in an age where Television, Print, Radio were the three commandments for any marketer. Getting to create a Television copy a year, print ad adaptations of the same and radio jingles (if the budgets allowed) was like a dream-come-true for any traditional marketer. But not so with me for my life changed and how…
One fine morning I was asked to lead “Digital Marketing” for ALL our brands. Initially, I was excited about the idea but I thought to myself if we are really ready and do we have the needed clarity of thought and focus for Digital Marketing in the first place. The answer to my questions was a clear NO. Though I knew digital was the way to go, I hardly knew anything technical about it. This was like running into an accident without insurance!
I was in a phase where the entire organization was only thinking about digital and people lay a lot of hope on me. I had to build the digital infrastructure and get people up to speed with it. Simultaneously. We were at a stage where there were no set rules for the game. Or I should say at least I had no clue if they ever existed. However, the best part was that only I knew about what I knew and what I didn’t 😉

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I loved the attention I got after getting into this role but it brought a lot of foes too. It’s human to feel insecure and threatened. To start with, brand teams very territorial about the brand’s budgets, campaigns, ideas etc. But at the same time, they also wanted to disrupt and take up digital initiatives. Having said that, some of my colleagues and my seniors were extremely supportive.
Whenever I had second thoughts about me being fit for this role, a friend of mine always said: “Whatever you know is much more than anyone else in the organization”. So, I kept my head high and started with it – shaky inside but appearing confident to the world.
With all this and more going in the background, navigating through ‘know-it-alls’ and ‘know-nothings’, I geared up to take on the challenge.
To begin with, I started looking for someone who could help me with a daily dose of digital gyan. I thought of reading books, signing up for a crash course etc. But after a lot of deliberation, I realized that the answer to all of these was a BIG NO. My rescue ranger in this expedition was Agent Google. Whenever I got stuck, I googled and read up. This became a habit and trust me, it still helps! When any jargon pops up, I summon agent Google and sound like a ‘knew-it-already’ 🙂
Some key learnings from my journey of coming to be called a “Digital Expert” are as follows:
1. Get your house in order – This is the first step. A brand needs presence in the digital space to do anything more at a later date. Brands need to develop digital assets keeping in mind the core TG, brand values its key proposition. Like in traditional media, digital too has many options… hence, it’s important to select the right mix of platforms to start with. Less is often more in Digital Marketing if done the right way.
2. Test and learn – One of the best things about Digital Marketing is that you don’t have to invest all the money at once. You can always pilot at various stages and make informed choices or decisions based on first-hand experience.
3. Manage the data overload – Well that’s a real challenge. The amount of data which is available is humongous and it is really difficult for one to choose what’s critical and what’s not. But what I realized is you need to set clear, well-defined objectives. Pick data that gives you meaningful information to see if you’ve met you KPIs and let the rest, rest in peace. That’s the simplest of things one can do.
4. Always be ready to answer a lot of questions – Like everything new, Digital Marketing initiatives create a lot of inquisitiveness across ranks. People want to know who, what, when, where, why and how and they want to know everything real-time.
5. Change is the only constant – While this might sound cliché, this is actually the truth of Digital Marketing. The rules of the game and the way things work change very frequently. One of the ways to tackle this challenge is to keep oneself abreast about the changes and be flexible to be able to adapt fast.
6. Don’t hesitate to ASK – Most of the time we live in this world of knowing everything and we want to hide our lack of understanding. But you can only learn by asking. Ask your friends, colleagues, agency partners, ask anyone you think can help or show a direction.

Taking one step at a time where everything looked good, I embarked upon my journey as a Digital Marketer. Little did I know then, that it will just change my life my career aspirations and me!