Last week I wrote about a few ways to help keep the new-job honeymoon going. One of the things I suggested was “don’t go to every meeting you’re invited to” because the early days of a new job offer the chance to see some big-picture opportunities and challenges before the inevitable and necessary digging in on specific tactics. One thing you can’t—and shouldn’t—avoid in the early days, though, is figuring out what you don’t know so you can quickly begin to shore up gaps in your knowledge base and skill set. In my new job I have responsibility for digital strategy at the College of Professional Studies at Northeastern University. Now, while I have a lot of experience in content marketing and social media, I don’t know much about PPC, SEO, SEM (pay-per-click, search engine optimization and search engine marketing for the similarly uninitiated) and all manner of other digital advertising acronyms.
Since the college’s website is the number one tool for prospective students interested in one of our online advanced degree programs, digital advertising is a vital part of what we—and, thus, I—do here. Not knowing much about it is daunting and frustrating and sometimes scary. So what’s a digital strategist to do?
Start pushing that proverbial rock up the hill.
I’ve made peace with the fact that I’m not going to know everything I need to know about this topic in a short period of time. It’s complex, messy, often highly tactical and the rules are always changing. But what I can do is listen, seek sources of information and, most importantly, ask questions. I’m surrounded by people (staff and vendors) who know more about this topic than I do, so I’m always asking them to clarify, demystify, define acronyms and generally speak at the level of a neophyte. Sure, it doesn’t feel good to be the guy at the table with the least amount of knowledge on an important topic, but the alternative to not actively trying to learn is…what? Not learning about an important topic. And that’s not an option.
So I dig in and try to find ways to simplify the topic for myself, and try not to get overwhelmed by the amount of information out there. I found this awesome Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors that I’ve printed and put up on my wall. I’ve asked people to send me the sources of information they use to stay current on the topic. And I’m going to take one or two of these Search Marketing School courses from MarketingProfs.
What tips do you have for learning what you need to know in a new job? Any digital marketing tips you can share with me?
I’m all ears.