Case study

Digital marketer — Martin Harris

Martin studied advertising and marketing at the University of Lincoln. Learn how he became the head of digital at Nottingham digital PR agency, Tank

How did you get started in digital marketing?

While I was at university, I was recruited by a start-up to help with its offline and online marketing. At that point, I hadn't had much digital marketing experience because there were no modules on the subject on my course, so I am mainly self-taught. When I joined the team, I took the time to teach myself SEO and blogging, along with how to write press releases and manage social media.

How did you get your role as head of digital?

After a few years in the industry, I had climbed the ranks to become a manager in a marketing agency, but I wanted to take the next step. I knew the industry was becoming more creative, so I wanted to be part of an agency that was doing innovative things with their content and links so they could teach me how to do that myself.

I saw the vacancy for Tank online, applied and went through three interviews to get my job. The first was an initial meeting with the director, which involved some homework. I was asked to put together a business plan for Tank on what I would do to improve its marketing, which I later presented to the board. They approved and I got the job.

What were the first few weeks like?

It was different to how I imagined. Since the digital side of the agency was in its initial stages, we didn't have many clients to work on. This gave me a great opportunity to learn the ins-and-outs of PR, which is important when you work in this kind of agency. During the first few weeks, I was tasked to sell in some press releases and gain coverage for clients - all of which was alien to me.

I was also slowly introduced to the PR clients and tried to see if I could help them with my digital services.

Describe your job in five words…

  1. Challenging.
  2. Flexible.
  3. Data.
  4. Understanding.
  5. Communication.

What's a typical day like as a digital marketer?

It starts early, I'm usually the first one in. I start every day reviewing all of my accounts and seeing where the team is with all our current tasks and then handle any outstanding emails. After that, I jump onto our work management platform, Asana, to see what tasks are remaining. I will then begin to delegate the tasks to the team.

At 9am, I look at the calendar and see what meetings I have and where I can fit in other work. I also look at where I could help out members of the team and put together new business documents and strategies.

What three skills do you need for your role?

Patience with your team and clients as it's the only way they will understand and grow. You never want to get upset because this doesn't help your staff develop professionally and can lose you clients.

Communication is also essential, as not all clients understand technical jargon. This is just as important when talking to your team because you need to plan how you're going to complete a project.

Finally, you need to understand the bigger picture. Rather than just seeing the task in front of you, think about how it will support the goals of the client and agency. Understanding what external factors are playing into certain tasks is also crucial because it helps you know what angle to take on a project.

What part of your job gives you the most satisfaction?

I love it when my team is genuinely happy with the results they have generated. It's nice to see them achieve something when they have been working hard for what can be days at a time.

What are the challenges?

Time is always the biggest challenge. It can be really difficult juggling multiple accounts that all have different needs and deadlines. No matter how organised you are, and no matter how hard you've worked on your plan at the start of the week, it can all change when a last-minute job comes in.

How do I get into digital marketing?

Start a side project as soon as possible. Create a website and try to make it rank on Google by pushing the boundaries of what you know and following their latest guidance. If you're able to, put a small budget into Google AdWords and explore how to put an ad together.

Go to marketing events and learn the basics. The most important thing to understand is that you don't need a degree for this sector, although it does give you a great head start. Read as much as you can because there are plenty of resources on all aspects of the job.

Finally, work towards accreditations such as, Google's Online Marketing Challenge and the PPC University by Wordstream. There are dozens more training assets online, some of which are free, that can really make you stand out against the competition.

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