Why working at a start-up will allow you to become a complete marketer

Working at a start-up has many benefits for a digital marketer, one of these is the ability to become a complete marketer.

Whilst working at larger companies can benefit you in other ways, such as job security and greater levels of pay. Less understanding of the full set of skills of internet marketing could stop you from becoming a complete marketer.

Let’s take a look at the differences:

Learn a wider range of skills

When I first started out as a digital marketer, no one really knew how to tackle the search engines. The company I began my journey with was new, there was no brand authority, it wanted to drive traffic and convert them into customers. There was no budget to do this, it was a case of learning to do what we could and working hard at it.

Fresh out of Uni I had a degree in business management; we had touched on marketing but nothing which prepared for digital side of things.

As the sole person in marketing which had no web designer, no graphic designer, no pay per click expert, no writer and no video production expert. I had to learn a wide range of skills fast!

Therefore skills that we’re required to do my job included learning the following:

  • Web Design including HTML and CSS
  • Graphic Design software such as Photoshop/G.I.M.P
  • Video editing software such as Sony Vegas/Adobe Premiere
  • Understanding monitoring software such as Google Analytics and Web Master tools and how to improve conversions.
  • Learning Pay Per Click such as Google Adwords

What happens in larger companies?

Now if the company was larger, it would likely to have specialists in those areas who could fully manage these processes. This for example could include having a skilled and creative graphic designer that can produce stand out images.

However in marketing, a lot of these areas are combined, such as producing content for a blog or resizing and compressing an image for a website. The more you narrow it down to one area, the less understanding of marketing as a whole. It would be a fast learning curve for specialists to work for start-ups or small businesses rather than the other way around.

Larger companies will take longer to make decisions and produce work as it all depends on when the certain specialist is free. They also have a greater need for perfection as they have a larger more expectant audience.

If you were to be promoted to manage a team of maketers and you’d worked at a start-up. You would know how long a graphic designer should take to make an image or an adwords specialist to set up a campaign. If you’re only a specialist in one area and become a manager, it will be difficult to get the most out the team.

Learn how to grow a business with little or no budget

Working with larger companies usually involves budget management. This can allow you to outsource various areas such as web design, content production, social media management and even buy traffic using AdWords.

However when you’re at a start-up you have your work cut out. Learning to do all this without spending money can greatly help the business grow. Going on to transfer these skills to larger companies you’re less likely to waste money. Helping you to get the most out of your budget.

If you don’t learn about the grind of marketing, you are less likely to appreciate those budgets and spend more freely. If you’ve built a website for example, from start to finish, you know the job at hand for a web designer allowing you to negotiate a good fee. Without this information, you’re more likely to lean towards the designer with the greatest sales strategy.

Outsourcing things such as pay per click is also another area which is quite common for larger companies. Marketers should learn to understand it, you will learn more and explore A/B testing helping to achieve the most from your budget.

Understand how different areas combine for marketing success

Social media is usually grown with good content which can be shared, it involves a lot of input. A blog for example will require writing, adding to the website, choosing an image, resizing it and then sharing to various platforms. At a large company, potentially you could need 4 individuals for that process.

If you have worked in those areas you roughly know a time frame for how quick things can be done. If you’ve got deadlines or wish to increase the pace of things, you need to step in and do it yourself. By grasping all areas from working at a start-up you can become a lot more efficient. Helping you work better with others and put sensible pressure on them when required.

See how hard it is to grow from the start

Marketing a well-known brand is essentially much easier to do than a start-up. If you release an article to 20,000 natural followers you are likely to get good engagement. Compare that to sending that article out from a company without a brand name with 50 followers. It’s not going to have the same impact.

The true grit of marketing comes from those days where you write a powerful article or spend hours shooting a video, for its reach to be small. It can be frustrating but as with most things hard work can pay off. This allows you to understand what it takes to launch a brand.

Another benefit of working for a start-up is that you get to learn from your mistakes. Small business can quickly rectify mistakes. However, working for larger brands you can soon find yourself in trouble making mistakes in front of larger audiences. For example if you make a typo in a tweet for a national brand it can soon but jumped upon. However a small brand that tweets out a mistake is less likely to be seen and can be rectified quickly.

Learn to get the most out of free software

Working at a start-up means that you don’t have the luxury of using the best software, you’re often forced to find free alternatives. This means using software like G.I.M.P instead of Photoshop to manage images or website grader to analyse a website.

For those who’ve not worked at a start-up adapting can be difficult. They are less likely to know of certain tools which can help benefit their marketing. They simply won’t have the budget to chuck around to get the very best. Learning to work with what’s available is more difficult than having access to costly software.


Summary – Why working for start-ups allow you to become a complete marketer

Now I’m not saying that all marketers who work for larger companies aren’t as good or might lack the skills. They usually are the identified as the ones who do well academically and land the higher paid more secure jobs. However working for start-ups can allow you to learn more and develop faster, making a more complete marketer. You’re also likely to work closer with other departments, helping you to gain a greater understanding of those areas.

In my experience when working for different sized companies. I have usually seen people come from larger companies to smaller companies and struggle to grasp the workload. They tend to ask for budgets and outsourcing rather than getting stuck into the tasks themselves. This can put a strain on the small business or start-up.

So if you’re looking to recruit a marketer. It might be worthwhile looking at where they’ve worked, as the type of company could hold the key to their success.

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