After 3 months of rigorous training on the complete Google Marketing Platform (GMP) along with some internal tools, I was thrilled to know that I have finally graduated from the training room to the business floor — The floor where all the action took place.
I was super excited about my first job and the first few weeks were full of zeal and zest and all things best (can you even say that?).
As a part of my job, I consulted various Fortune 500 companies and answered their questions, which, almost always, lingered around new product features to beta test, suggestions for better budget management, explanations of complicated policies, and ways to increase ROAS.
Soon enough, I felt that my job was becoming staler and staler because of its increased repetitiveness.
I was a 21-year young employee who felt like he was on top of the world because I had become a quasi-expert on all things Google.
I felt like I should be contributing much more to my job.
Auditing million-dollar accounts wasn’t fun anymore.
I really believed that I was smart, young, enthusiastic, passionate, hardworking, and most importantly, better than others and therefore my point of inflection in mastering the GMP had come much sooner than my colleagues.
In hindsight, I was just naïve about everything.
I was to be enlightened about this fact in the coming few weeks.
In the quarterly review meeting with my Team-Lead, she asked me if I was happy with my current role and responsibilities and if I felt motivated to come to the office every day.
That is when I introduced my manager to the miseries of my repetitive work.
I told her what I felt at the moment:
I think I now know everything about Google Ads, Analytics, and Merchant Centre and therefore, I would love to work on some other platforms now.
She was taken aback by this response, started laughing at me.
Trivia: She even called me a KID.
How dare she do that?
I didn’t know how to react to this and my baby face showed colors of bewilderment, embarrassment, and anger; all at the same time.
That is when she gave me the first advice.
Advice #1: Everyone knows Google Ads and no one knows Google Ads
What is she even saying? Isn’t she contradicting herself in this statement?
She went on to explain:
Saurabh, you have been on the floor for just 2 months. You are NO expert. Everyone who starts working on these platforms thinks that they know everything but in reality, they don’t.
Every Tom, Dick, and Harry who has opened a marketing consultancy can make that claim, but honestly, no one knows these tools in their entirety. No one.
Not you, not me, not Vidhya (VP of Advertising, Google). It is a fluid marketing platform that changes shape every day. No campaign is perfect and there will always be some room for improvement.
She concluded by saying
Your notion of perfection is the death of growth and you need to change that.
To date, it has been the most insightful lesson of my life.
A well-documented fact in the world of marketing is that all marketers have an ego. They think they are better than the next-best person and that is both delusional and dangerous.
The Harvard Business Review has actually dedicated an article to it: Marketers, Let Your Egos Go.
The moment we start perceiving ourselves as a know-it-all is when our growth stutters. A know-it-all will never have a scope of learning since they are living in a fool’s paradise.
Do you really think that someone who has mastered marketing and is therefore offering his services on UpWork is just as marketing savvy as the CMO of L’oreal?
And if you know all of it, even then, your campaigns can always be better. This is what I have focussed on every day of my life.
Ever since I was given this advice, I positioned myself as a learner and started exploring areas of these marketing platforms that are barely tapped into by fellow marketers.
I now strive for better than yesterday by remembering that “No one knows Google Ads”. No one knows marketing. No one knows the stock market. No one knows physics.
Everyone who works in those fields knows it, but not in its entirety. There’s always something to learn.
This keeps me going.
More importantly, nowadays, the more I learn, the more I realize that I know so little and this makes me kiss the sky. I am not easily bored now because I love what I do even more.
It certainly makes me a better marketer and this applies to all fields and aspects of life. We can always get better if we leave some space for it.
Advice #2: Innovate on the strategy side, not the creative side.
I am that one guy who will always come up with a bizarre marketing idea and make the whole media planning team scratch their heads and be like “Why did we not think of this before?”.
When I was collaborating with hundreds of B2B companies such as KPMG, Quill, etc. to figure out creatives and ad copies, I realized that my efficiency in coming up with new ideas was going down.
Whenever that happened, I started feeling miserable about my job.
Like the previous time, I ended up seeking advice from my TL.
It is natural to hit a creative block when your job demands you to come up with creative ideas to improve advertising performance.
When that happens to me, rather than wasting time on the creatives, I shift my focus towards the strategic side of marketing. It helps me clear my head and makes me look at the problem from a different perspective.
And you know what?
More often than not, the root of the marketing problem lies on the strategic side, not the creative side. Therefore, innovate on the strategic side, not the creative side.
I think it is certainly very convenient to blame our creatives for the lack of returns on advertising dollars.
I am not saying that you shouldn’t do that. You should always strive for better creatives, but that’s only 33% of your marketing.
The other 2/3 is your overall strategy.
Nitpicking on creatives and coming up with new ad variations can be a big distraction from your actual problem- “lack of or poor marketing strategy”.
I have become a better marketer ever since I shifted my focus from creatives to strategy. It makes us present our ideas in a better way and it pleases the clients too.
Moreover, it keeps my creative bees from stinging because even on the strategy side of the business, I’m constantly creating and innovating, albeit, in a different way.
Even though I left Google after 19 months to pursue my post-graduation (in marketing obviously), these 2 life lessons stuck with me.
These invaluable tips helped me grow tremendously and have made me a better person and a better marketer.
Hope these tips can help you in the way that they helped me.
Thank you for reading :)