10 things I've learned in my first year as a Marketing Apprentice

If I had to sum up this last year in one sentence it would be this…

A steep (but very enjoyable) learning curve!

It sounds like a bit of a cliche to say, but every day since starting out at Ros Conkie’s Marketing Academy, I’ve learned something new. From the big things like how to build a strategy and format a marketing plan to why you should never leave a word in a headline on a line of its own. 

So, here are the 10 most important things I’ve learned in this last year…

1. Marketing is not about reaching as many people as possible 

Working in a small business, it very quickly became clear that marketing really isn't about reaching as many people as possible with your content. In a small business, it’s just not feasible to waste lots of time and money on a campaign that’ll reach thousands of people if none of them are likely to convert into profitable leads. 

Instead, you want to reach the right people at the right time with content that's relevant and resonates with your ideal customer. 

2. You don’t need to be active on every social media platform

Before joining Ros’s team, social media was the part of the job description which I was most worried about. I did have my own social media accounts but had never really paid any attention to where I was posting, hashtags or growing my following or even creating consistency in my feed and posting schedule. 

But, in my first few weeks as a marketer, I learned this important lesson - it’s more beneficial to show up consistently (with great content) on the one social media platform that you’re most comfortable with than to spread yourself too thin trying to be everywhere.

3. A great call to action can make or break a post

The main purpose of marketing content is to get your customers to take the next step in their buying journey. Your call to action is how you let your audience know what that next step is. Too big of a step and you’ll scare them off, too small of a step and they’ll never progress through to actually making a purchase. Ros actually has a useful blog on ‘How to craft a compelling call to action’ which I still come back to now if I'm stuck.

4. It’s SO hard to write as someone else

Rather naively, I started this job thinking “I have an English degree, writing content should be easy”. But, what I’d failed to realise was that I wouldn't be writing in my own voice. I’d be writing in our brand voice, Ros’s voice, and that took a whole lot of getting used to. Working out how Ros structured her sentences, whether or not she uses contractions (which she does at every opportunity), how long her sentences were, what words she commonly used… The list of little details that I had to learn about Ros was endless! 

5. SEO isn’t actually a priority for a lot of small businesses 

My apprenticeship made it sound like SEO was the be-all-and-end-all in marketing. But, as I started working with Ros, it quickly became clear that, for small businesses where the majority of their work comes from referrals, their SEO ranking doesn’t really matter as their potential customers won’t be searching for them directly. This meant that their SEO ranking wasn't really a priority. It’s not until they’re ready to scale up their marketing efforts that this will make an impact. 

6. To always be wary of marketers who offer you a quick fix

We’ve all seen them… The facebook ads offering you “10 new clients and 10k profits in the next 30 days with this weird trick”. 

Now, I'm not saying this isn’t possible (apparently it worked for them), but these marketing hacks aren't all they’re made out to be. If you’re looking for real growth and sustainable results it's going to take more than reconnecting with old leads or a flashy ad and facebook group… you need a strategy.

7. The dangers of “scope creep”!

Now, this is one that I’ve learned since recently taking on my first few clients but scope creep is something to be super wary of. It’s all those little ‘could you just’ jobs… 

“Please can you just do this when you post on Instagram?” 

“Please can you just add this or that” 

They’re all 2 minute jobs, but those 2 minutes add up quickly! Keep track and log everything so that your time doesn't run away from you.

8. That I’m a small chunk sequencer (and why it’s useful to know this)

In my first week on the job (and actually in my interview, when I didn’t understand what it meant) Ros had me complete this wonderful quiz from Monkey Puzzle Training. This helped me identify how my brain structures time so I could use this to my advantage in my role. Being a sequencer means that I think about time in chronological order rather than grouping events together into themes or categories. 

Being a small chunker means I love the details so I would prefer a super long list of little tasks rather than a short to-do list with big, overwhelming tasks on it. This has been so useful to know as it means Ros and I can communicate effectively. It also affects the objectives we set ourselves and how we break these down to get the best results.

9. Continuous development is key

If you’re thinking about a career in marketing, you have to love learning. End of story! In the first week alone I learned how to use 5 new software tools, completed 2 training courses and nearly filled half a notebook with notes so I didn't forget anything important. A year on and I still learn at least 1 new software a month, I sign up to as many training courses as I can to keep up with current trends and I’m on about my 6th notebook! 

10. Sometimes people just need the reassurance that their ideas are good enough to get started

There’s nothing more valuable to a small business than having someone else to bounce ideas off. When I first started, I worried about getting things right and whether I was making silly mistakes in my work because I just didn't know the business or our ideal customer as well as Ros did yet. There is so much to know about marketing it can get overwhelming very quickly, so I was lucky to have Ros mentoring me and as someone to bounce ideas off and get feedback from. 

I’m really pleased that we’re now supporting new marketers like me who are dust starting to develop their skills in small business marketing. If you’re a Marketing Apprentice like me, or a business owner who’d like to hear more about my experience as an apprentice and how I benefited from having Ros on my team please do connect with me on LinkedIn and send me a message.

Katie Evans


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