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5 Years in the Inbound Marketing World: What I’ve Learned

I recently had to do an interview about what it is like to be a “millennial leader.” The entire interview was very reflective and made me realize that I actually had just hit my five-year working anniversary in the inbound marketing world (that was a shock, five years... WTF?!). However, this exercise also brought to light a few key things that I’ve learned over the past five years. The question “How did you get to where you are today?” really stopped me in my tracks. How did I get here?

For one, a few fantastic individuals took a chance on me — for which I am forever grateful (you know who you are). Aside from that, it really is the passion I have for this industry. I truly believe in inbound marketing and helping clients grow their businesses by being helpful and not just pushing a sale like the way it was in the past.

So, that’s how I got here, but what is making me stay here? Now, that is just pure motivation to be successful and a very strong supportive network (which I will go more in-depth on later). In the past five years, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to work for not one, but two HubSpot Diamond Agencies. Here are five of the most important things I’ve learned thus far. I tried to order these in terms of importance, but in the end, I found them all to be equal.

Always Be Learning

“Procrastination may be the enemy of productivity, but it can be a resource for creativity.”Adam M. Grant, Originals: How Noncomforists Move the World

I am one of those people that believe a "job" isn't just a "job;" rather, it is a real passion and desire to make a difference in your craft. I think marketing is a fascinating field because it is ever-changing. Something that works for a specific client may not work for another client. The tools and technologies are ever-changing as well. With the fast-paced environment of the business world, you are forced to continue learning every single day.

In order to get the best results possible for clients, you have to be on top of industry trends and new tools to succeed. I think this is one of the best parts of marketing: staying creative throughout a constant learning process. Some of my best ideas have come from sitting down for a few hours to do research on a new tool or industry report and have a lightbulb turn on with new ideas that I can apply for one of my clients. Having more knowledge than your competitors is what is going to keep you ahead in your career and make you a very valuable asset.

Networking Isn't a Choice, It's a Necessity

“When given the choice, people will always spend their time around people they like.” Gary Vaynerchuk, The Thank You Economy

I have been incredibly fortunate in every job I have applied for that I was first recommended to by a friend or colleague. I think character is what gets you through the door more than a strong résumé. At the end of the day, you can learn all the different skills and tactics you want, but your character is what makes people want to continue to work with you. Through networking, I was able to move from Connecticut to sunny Florida, have brought in new business for our company and, most importantly, made a lot of close friends. Your network is who helps you grow and continue to be the best you can be, and it is not something to be taken lightly. Talk to anyone and everyone, which fits in with my first point: continuing to learn. 

Culture is King

“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” 
James C. Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Other Don't

If you told me five years ago I was going to be a bridesmaid in a wedding for one of my co-workers in Florida, I would tell you you're crazy. However, that did, in fact, happen. Here at Bluleadz, we consider each other as part of a family, all working together to achieve our goals. At first, I always thought the whole idea of company "culture" was a bit far-fetched, but as I started to read more about the importance of culture and experienced a great amount of culture myself, I realized just how wrong I was.

Culture is what makes me excited to wake up every morning. It is what makes me confident in our company continuing to grow because I trust each individual in our company. We all are constantly helping one another learn, grow and  most importantly  laugh. Although we have a work-from-home policy at Bluleadz, I hardly ever use it because I genuinely love going to the office every day. I know you can still have a great culture with remote employees, but to me, being surrounded by like-minded individuals is what drives me to consistently get better... not just for me, but also for the team. Your company's culture can make or break your success — it is something you have to heavily invest in and cultivate in order to succeed.

It's OK to Fail

“To become original, you have to try something new, which means accepting some measure of risk.” 
Adam M. Grant, Originals: How Noncomformists Move the World

Oh, have I failed. Many, many times over. Rather than being hard on myself, though, I choose to face the situation head-on and grow from it. There are times you don't know the right answer and go down the wrong road. However, what I've learned from my failures is through honesty and reflecting on the situation at hand, you end up doing something even greater in the long run. 

There is no crystal ball that will tell you a campaign or strategy is going to bring millions of dollars in ROI for a client (otherwise we would all be rich). However, by constantly testing, reviewing the data, and becoming smarter in your tasks, you will see more successes. Situations that have stemmed from "failures" are some of the most important lessons I have learned to date in my career, and I wouldn't change that. 

Love What You're Doing

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.” 
Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

It may sound cheesy, but I went into marketing because my father started a small business that helped provide an even better life for my family. His hard work and late nights doing this on the side, while still working a full-time job, made me want to work even harder to prove how much of an impact he made in my life.

When I work with clients, I don't just see it as ROI and hitting goals on a spreadsheet. I see it as my clients being able to provide for their families the way my dad did for me. While the scale is vastly different with larger corporations, the principles still ring true. With successful marketing efforts for a company come increased sales, which, in turn, affect each employee's lifestyle. It is something I'm proud to be a part of and why I love being part of the marketing world. 

Those are just five things that I have learned over the last five years in the inbound marketing industry, and I'm greatly looking forward to seeing all that comes in the next five years. What are some of the best things you've learned while being a part of the inbound world? I would love to hear from you, too, in the comments section below. Happy Inbound-ing!

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Brittany Balog

Brittany Balog

Brittany is an Inbound Marketing Consultant for BluLeadz who enjoys traveling, live music, the beach and Steelers football.