6 Tips for Starting out in Paid Search
As the digital marketing space is continually getting more and more siloed and specialized, it’s becoming easier to pick a discipline you enjoy and fully immerse yourself in — mastering that craft. For me, it’s paid search and performance marketing. If you are considering diving into paid search marketing or starting your first gig in the field, here are some important things to add to your toolbelt:
1. Don’t Be Afraid of Being Wrong
It’s easy coming into a new role and wanting to be amazing at everything right out the gate. It’s not easy exposing yourself and your shortcomings in front of your new team. But, you should! I would much rather be wrong in front of my peers instead of being wrong in front of a client. It’s in these moments that we get to learn and grow as professionals to understand what to look for in a given scenario. Being able to lean on your peers for insights or perspectives you didn’t consider helps you get better and makes for a more united and cohesive team. In my opinion, no question is a dumb question. I will gladly explain something to someone if it means we can all move one step forward together because that’s how I would want to be guided. I’ve been dismissed many times in my career, and that’s never allowed me to get better. Allow yourself to be wrong so you can allow others to be wrong without feeling punished for doing so.
Equally, offer your own ideas. Coming into paid search, whether fresh out of school or transitioning from a different field, you have unique experience that others don’t. A fresh pair of eyes can spot opportunities or new perspectives on topics where seasoned eyes may not be able to. A quote from Einstein I love is:
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
Bring your thoughts and ideas and table them with your peers. Very likely, others may have similar ideas and have chosen not to voice them. They will appreciate you bringing them to light. Even if your ideas are turned away, the answer is always no if you don’t speak your mind
2. Ask Lots of Questions
It’s not enough to simply be wrong. You must have an unwavering desire to not only understand how to do something, but also why and when doing that will be useful again. These will serve you again as another tool in your utility belt if you can understand and contextualize a problem and its solution. I had a close high-school friend who knew how to do all of the calculus problems in our class, but only exactly how they were taught. I asked genuinely, ”Do you know why it’s done that way?” I was met with a puzzled look, ”No, I just do it that way the book says,” she laughed. Well, my desire to understand concepts, theories, and the why allowed me to answer questions she couldn’t later on, and that lesson has served me throughout my life.
Not only will you understand how to tackle new problems, asking questions builds rapport with your team, and opens them up to asking questions too.
3. Practice. Practice. Practice.
Read blog posts, watch YouTube videos, and ask your peers for advice to not only learn why things are done, but also how they execute those same tasks in their own way. There are a hundred ways to get to your destination. Learning different methodologies can surprise you and show you how to tackle a problem in a way you had not thought of before. This will allow you to practice and know exactly (quite literally) what buttons to push to get the answer you need faster.
I am a firm believer that nothing in life is truly that hard to learn–some things just take more time to master and understand. Many of the tasks that you will be faced with may take some time to execute the first few passes, but you’ll go from crawling to sprinting very quickly as long as you put in the time. Always work to make yourself more valuable–to your clients, your team, and ultimately the marketplace. Your potential for growth really depends on your focus and your effort.
4. Communication and Transparency
We all know communication is paramount in every aspect of life, and paid media is no different. Having clear communication with your peers and your clients helps everyone fire on all cylinders and prevents wasted time and unmet expectations. The only time someone gets disappointed is when the outcome does not meet their expectations. Make it clear to your team and clients what the end goal is and leave no room for unanswered questions. Be transparent with your capabilities and encourage your team to do the same so deadlines are met.
5. Stay Organized and Show Your Work
Being able to prioritize is a skill. You will be bombarded daily with “urgent” requests from all stakeholders. It’s important to develop a personal filter for what matters. “Urgent” does not always equal “important”, and you’ll need to push back at times or make it clear that there are more pressing tasks that must come first. There is a funny quote that I sometimes reference that says, “Your bad planning should not become my emergency.” Work on improving your planning and communicate with your team so there are never any emergencies.
Additionally, I find it very helpful to explain your work–just like you would in math class. It allows you to stay organized and to pick up where you left off. It also helps your peers/clients understand your thought process. This allows you to display your mastery on a topic to a client, but equally allows your peers to review your work and point out any mistakes before it becomes client-facing.
6. Ask for Feedback
I think an underrated skill is knowing how to ask for feedback. This can be applied at all levels. We are all cognitive misers who are quick to make judgements on our performance based on what we see, but a cohesive team should be able to constructively critique each other and polish each other’s skills. Steel sharpens steel, and closing the loop with your peers is invaluable to your career. Oftentimes, it only takes one person in a group to take initiative before others start to follow suit, and ultimately that creates a positive work environment where everyone is striving to be better every day. Ask for feedback, and you will likely be met with honesty, respect, and appreciation.
These tips are as much about paid media as they are life skills, but learning to adapt to new environments quickly will help you succeed faster in your role and help build stronger relationships with everyone around you. Try incorporating these into your day-to-day life and take active responsibility for your growth!