How I became a digital marketer

Someone recently asked me how I “totally switched careers” from custom software development to digital marketing.

Here’s how I did it…

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Kevin Daisey (left) and I celebrating Array Digital’s 3rd birthday.

Starting in early 2018, I and my company completely switched our services from custom software development to digital marketing. But the change wasn’t quite as radical in reality as it may sound.

I own the company and much of my day to day activities are not in the operations itself, but in the managing of the company.

At the time we were clearly a custom software development company. But we wanted a way to continue to earn revenue from clients after we delivered the product to them.

Realizing that they would need digital marketing for the digital project we just delivered to them, we hired a digital marketer to provide after-sale continual service.

Turns out, there’s recurring revenue in digital marketing, but there’s none (or very little) in custom software. I started to focus on digital marketing to figure out what this guy that I just hired really did, and if it was actually of any value to our clients.

Was what we were doing making a difference for our clients?

I really didn’t know, so I started digging into it…

  • I studied what he was doing.
  • I asked a lot of questions.
  • I started reading every blog post I could get my hands on about digital marketing.
  • I listened to digital marketing podcasts.
  • I read books on digital marketing, including a few advertising classics.
  • I picked up on tips & tricks and passed them onto him.
  • I focused all my learning and attention on digital marketing for a solid year.

Turns out, there is value in digital marketing.

There actually can be more value out of great marketing than a great product by itself. After all, if no one knows about your product, or you cannot persuade them to try it, then it doesn’t matter how great of a product it is.

And there’s recurring revenue in digital marketing! That meant that you can forecast into the future things like revenue and expenses. Whereas in custom software development you’re constantly chasing the money from project to project…it was exhausting.

After studying marketing exclusively for a year, and after realizing that digital marketing was our way forward, I ramped down on the software projects and focused our sales effort on digital marketing.

We then changed our own marketing messaging to be all about digital marketing and not software. Over the course of a year we wrapped up our software projects and let our software devs go (they were well aware of the transformation at hand, and no one was surprised), all while building up our marketing muscles.

We were able to rapidly find new clients for digital marketing while at the same time the custom software development leads, for us at least, dried up.

Some of our competitors responded in our favor by dropping their marketing bolt-on services, thus clearing out even more market share for us.

It really has worked out great for us.

We’re at $2M in recurring revenue now, and have a goal of reaching $100M by 2030.

The daily decisions we make to scale our company are chronicled in our podcast, Journey to $100 Million at journeyto100million.com.

~ Erik J. Olson

Written by

Digital marketer. Founder & CEO of Array Digital. Host of Journey to $100 Million Flash Briefing and podcast. Organizer of the Marketer Anonymous meetups.

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