A Start in Online Marketing
After graduating with my BS in marketing management from Baruch College in New York City, the time had finally come for me to get my feet wet in the "real" world. Don't get me wrong, I had my share of solid work experience, considering I had worked full time at a nonprofit while attending school. But it still didn't make finding the right job for me any easier post-graduation. As soon as I got my diploma, I decided I had earned a break and did some traveling abroad for a few months, only to end up back home in Florida, stuck in a job that I just did not like (as a national salesman of private investigative services). I finally reached the point where I decided it was time for a change, and followed my dream of opening my own marketing company. In my previous marketing positions, I had always worked on doing something online, so I always had a really strong online presence.
I headed back to New York and registered Holla! Productions. The next step was finding work, and out came the Rolodex. I had a friend who worked at TV Guide and thought it could turn into a good opportunity. A new type of social online marketing was being integrated into the brand's overall marketing strategy, and they needed a person to do a long-term social networking campaign for them. So there it was: my first client, TV Guide Online. Currently, I'm under a six-month contract for TV Guide, and I'm working on a few smaller projects for several e-commerce sites during my free time.
Here's how a typical day is going.
7:00 a.m.—"Sun is shining, weather is sweet…" My Bob Marley ringtone alerts me that another morning is here, and I instinctively press snooze. I have never been a morning person and have always cherished my last few minutes of shut-eye. I wake up in a rush, hop in the shower before the roommate gets in, and start my day. I begin by running items through my head of what will happen during the day.
8:20 a.m.—Head to the streets of New York, swipe my card through the subway turnstile, and cram onto a packed train. No seats available, but a wall to lean on if you're lucky.
8:50 a.m.—Arrive at the TV Guide Online office inside the News Corp. (NWS) building. I swipe my badge and enter through the frosted glass panels that swish open.
9:00 a.m.—Go to my desk and gear up for the day. Open Outlook and run the daily report waiting in my in-box. This report tells us the search engine ranking for the top 10 keyword search referrals from the previous day. One of the best features of online marketing is the analytics are easily traced. There is more data available to interpret the metrics of the site and users' behavior, which in turn makes your efforts more effective.
9:15 a.m.—Dive into my e-mails and get a sense of what is going on for the day; important ones are flagged and used to make the agenda.
9:30 a.m.—Browse the Web site and determine the important items to spread virally through the social online news and bookmarking sites. Sharing these articles requires writing catchy headlines for an audience that reads one line to determine whether they like the article or not. With subject matter ranging from Grey's Anatomy to Britney Spears to the scariest movies of all time, the core of what I do is spread entertainment to the masses.
10:30 a.m.—Daily editorial meeting. Everyone gathers and shares a plan for what content will be included online and in the magazine. From these meetings I gather additional information on any cross-promotional opportunities between the magazine and online to utilize assets such as interviews for online purposes.
11:00 a.m.—The promotion I have been preparing for the past few days is Disney's (DIS) High School Musical 2. The magazine has an exclusive CD-ROM special issue with insider info about the movie, and it's my job to let all online fans know about it. The goal is to bring more traffic to the site as well as increase awareness of the special issue. The past few days have been spent surfing the Web, compiling a list of sites that pertain to HSM2, Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, and Ashley Tisdale—clearly these kids are running America. With hundreds of sites devoted to these young stars, my prospect list grew very long.
11:15 a.m.—The process begins. My Excel spreadsheet is clad with shaded headers and hundreds of fields of URLs. As each site is visited and scoured for details (the last update, page rank, affiliates, e-mail address, etc.), the goal is to contact the site owner and form a relationship. From there on, I continue to send scoops, interviews, photos, and more for them to share on the site and with their fans. Also, during this time I like to catch up on any shows I may have missed. TV is on in the background while I e-mail endless sites and discover additional prospects along the way.
2:00 p.m.—O.K., time to eat now. Do I feel like going out, ordering in, or heading down to the Rockefeller Center tunnel?
2:20 p.m.—Back on track now. The line took forever and was totally packed, and I paid $10 for a tuna sandwich. Awesome. Now I am eating at my desk and browsing on Facebook. It's updated every morning with any big headlines from our site or my Google Alerts (GOOG). I also changed my status and what I am watching tonight. Now I answer messages, post comments, check out new groups, and rave about shows.
3:30 p.m.—Meeting time. Efforts to improve the site, gain feedback about analytics, or collaborate with additional departments happen around the clock, daily. Today we discuss with our other sites ways to improve their blogs and make them more popular and searchable.
4:30 p.m.—Check all the e-mail responses that have come in throughout the day regarding linking requests and partnerships. Update all the links on our site with the new partnerships that have been formed. I like to keep the partners happy with a quick turnaround.
5:30 p.m.—Wind down the day; see what can wait until tomorrow, e-mail anything home that still needs to be worked on, and IM friends to see if anyone is doing anything.
6:00 p.m.—Some girlfriends want to get dinner, plans are made, and we meet up. Pasta and wine top off a day of work quite nicely.
8:00 p.m.—Get home, and time for TV. My current project revolves around TV, and as much as I had stayed away from it before, now it is integrated into my daily routine. The DVR is always at capacity, and I still miss important shows! We are running a campaign right now for the brand, so part of the strategy is for me to talk and have an online presence while the show is airing. I blog and post live during each of the 12 shows during the week. Some days I have to limit myself as to the ones I can actually reach, or just focus on ones that have more of an online fan base.
11:00 p.m.—TV is winding down, and I'm tired of typing at this point. Sometimes I relax and watch a movie or just read a book. Enough time spent on the TV and computer screen today that the eyes need a break. I feed the turtle and start getting ready to sleep. The laptop stays next to me—even when I sleep! We have attachment issues.
Before I started my company, the idea of actually becoming incorporated and being solely responsible for a business was intimidating. Later I found that the initial process was quite simple, and maintaining it is what gets me out of bed every day. I often think that I should have taken more HTML and Web design classes while in school. I would like to be able to put all my marketing knowledge to use, search engine optimization principles, etc., and design and build a site the way I know it should be.
My father was always self-employed, so I grew up in a business environment. I am a friendly, outgoing person growing up in the present-day online nation. My motto has always been to start where you can and remember your friends. Most of my jobs have come from knowing someone within the company, thus networking has played a vital role. My position has often been developed from one small idea and then integrated into the grand scheme of the business. If you become involved in what everyone does, regardless of whether departments think they can use you or not, chances are if you are genuinely interested in what they do and in promoting the company as a whole, your efforts will add value across many departments. Marketing was a direct fit for me and my interests, and online was where I felt the next wave of marketing would take place. And voilà, I'm here in the midst of it all.