I'm trying to "think" my way out of this, but I'm tired of doing it alone

The Situation:

I'm the Director of Content at a startup. And that means that I'm building out the marketing department's strategies & processes from scratch - to grow the brand, sales, etc.

Real talk - I'm good, but I'm not THAT good, yet.

So we're talking:

  • Email marketing strategies
  • Social media growth across ALL platforms
  • SEO keyword search & strategy
  • Content creation
  • And more

Is that a lot?

Hell yeah it is!

Do I have experience in all of these fields?

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Ahem!...Lately, I've been feeling unfocused & scattered because all of the TINY projects I need to do on a day to day basis in each of these fields. On top of, trying to learn more about them, and create better strategies, etc.

Of course I'm trying to think my way through this, and here's what I got. Would love your feedback!

Solution #1:

Designate a full day to one department.

Meaning I will spend (1) day on nothing but the email marketing strategy. Even if it's just updating the newsletter - going to the product team to see if there are any relevant updates, going to the CEO to see if he has any new insights he'd like to put wax on, deciding on if I should "tag" folks if they click on a button, reading articles to better my strategy, etc.

This way I have a weekly designated time period, that the whole company will know about, to concentrate on nothing but the optimization of that department & the systems that run through it.

Solution #2:

I've been talking to some folks in my network about my imposter syndrome.

And after some self reflection & asking myself two questions:

  • What is it that makes you feel like an imposter?
  • Is there anything you can do to alleviate or squash that feeling altogether?

I've come up with an idea I'm high key excited about.

I'm going to look for an internship/apprenticeship/part-time job as a junior marketer within an agency or business.

How I came up with this conclusion?...

Why do I feel like an imposter?

Because I've been cobbling together solutions to problems my whole career. I don't have any "formal" training in the marketing arena.

What can I do to alleviate this imposter syndrome?

Work for a company that already has processes in place - then do, and learn from them.

For example: My manager in my jr. position will tell me, "You're going to be running an email marketing campaign for the launch of X product. We've done it before & have gotten stellar results. This was what we did last time, step-by-step, repeat it here again. Go".

Fuq yeah! Yes ma'am!

The benefits?

I'm looking behind the curtain of how they do things.

I'm internalizing their reasoning.

I can ask those LITTLE questions so I can understand their strategy better.

And so on.

Of course I'll still be working my full-time job, but doing this on the side - after hours.

I'm going to be focusing on companies that operate on West coast hours so my 6pm is their 3pm and we'll have a buffer to have a meeting if need be.

Money is not the priority here, LEARNING is.

And bonus for them, I know how to do A LOT of things! Some of it is basic knowledge, some of it is high level.

So I'm sure I'll be able to move faster than a junior marketer & offer insights if they're looking for any.

I want this to be a long-term thing.

If everything is going good after 3-months, I'll stay on as their part-timer.

This isn't a "get it & quit it" scenario.

Like I said, it's about learning.

And this is where I'm at with everything.

Thoughts? Feedback?

Bring it on.

iynna's profile thumbnail
Thanks so much for posting @jikajika! As always I love your writing :)I am not an expert in any of these fields so I won't try to give you some tips, but when it comes to the imposter syndrome, I think it's really fair for you to feel this way. It sounds like you have an overwhelming load and there needs to be some internal re-prioritisation (something you do for yourself in order to see clearer). I think it's also important to remind yourself that you were hired because you are beyond capable, if other people have picked it before, so can you!! I think it is also important to set some healthy boundaries on what you can accomplish (I appreciate that it can be hard to do as right now you are still in that mindset of showing what you've got and I am all for it, but comes a point when you have all the receipts you can put a brake on things).Now on the specific skills to master to be successful at this job, perhaps you can chat with @emilyschang @juliazatulovsky @jackiedeflorio @danastasieluk @kirstenpetra (who are all marketing gurus!) and @brookehart (not directly related to your ask but she is an email automation expert + has helped others with full-stack marketing) Happy connecting everyone!
jikajika's profile thumbnail
Squirrel - you always know how to come in, drop the mic, fall into the splits, do a little Channing Tatum Magic Mike XXL action, pop up, say, "I got you girl", and then Crip walk off the stage. And I am in awe.Thank you so much for the references! I'll be reaching out to each and everyone of these power houses. So look at your DMs ladies!!! Don't make me digitally stalk you! I am a marketer! The skill comes in the beginner toolkit!As far as these "healthy boundaries" you speak of...is that a cereal? Sounds like it has bran flakes in it. No chocolate or other artificial sugary ingredients that will make my Dentist cringe. Mmmh...I'll look into this sugarless cereal of yours, but no promises.And yes, I AM capable (she said to herself in the mirror in a, HUSHED, tone...)I just question if I'm able to juggle - a chainsaw, bowling ball, 18" tv set (who knew they even made those anymore), and my James Charles & Juvia's Place makeup palette (#treasure) all at once. One at a time, sure. All at once, things can get tricky - and I just applied shea butter to my legs, so my hands are all slippery. And yes - I'm still talking about all the marketing stuff I need to do. XDThis is the first week of me implementing my One Day, One Job strategy. We'll see how it goes. Thank you again!!! Boomerang hug!
Which of these workstreams do you think you are naturally best at? Do you know which one is yielding the most revenue (or non-monetary KPI)?My sense in looking at this as a founder is that this could be 3-4 different jobs (copywriting, SEO execution, social media ad execution, overall content and marketing strategy), and I’m assuming this is a B2B company where conversion is more dependent on sales than marketing, otherwise your team might have already been expanded.Perhaps liaise with sales to understand which of these functions is currently most valuable to the company.I know you feel overwhelmed, but you never actually stated anywhere whether you are under- or outperforming expectations. If you are doing a good job and if the company is growing, it’s possible you might be able to get budget from your CEO to hire an agency (perhaps one that specializes on the function you know the least about). This way, you could witness the best practices in action without needing to get another job to “train.”Apart from that, I do agree that plan #1 is good where you focus on one area per day of the week.Disregard if this isn’t relevant to you!
iynna's profile thumbnail
"You never actually stated anywhere whether you are under- or outperforming expectations" that part!!
jikajika's profile thumbnail
I'm outperforming the CEOs expectations. He LOVES the work I'm doing!But he's not paying as close attention as I am to all the things. He has Mr. Magoo vision thinking a marmoset is a cat. They're both ADORABLE, but one might try to chew your face off. Who am I kidding - they both would...Anyhoo, yes I'm doing SUPERB in his eyes - but it's not even CLOSE to being as organized & definitive as I know it can be.
jikajika's profile thumbnail
Right off the bat, you are 1000% correct!These ARE (4) different jobs that I'm doing! 😂But I did get a copywriter with video editing capabilities - so that's a plus!To answer your question, I'm naturally best at the content creation (e.g., being in front of the video, video production, video editing, chop shopping videos for social media distribution, etc). My copywriting skillz aren't too shabby neither.Do I know which one is yielding the most revenue?Apparently 'Sales' and the outreach they do through connections, etc. yields the most sales.Though I'm trying to tip that, so marketing brings all the bags to the yard. And that's the CEOs goal as well. And yep, we're B2B2C.Sales wanted PDFs, Case Studies, etc. to show off to the clients. So we made sure to make them ASAP 👍🏾So far, I'm outperforming the CEOs expectations - though I haven't really done what I wanted yet because I don't know how to pull all the levers. Hell, I don't even know where all of them are! I need Indiana Jones on my side to find The Well Hidden Strategy of Email Funnel Strategies!We've tried hiring a few small agencies, for design or video work, and they are par. At best. So I just do it myself, or split it up with my copywriter. I want to hire a specific contractor to do a specific job, but my budget is minimal.So that leaves it all to me. 🧜🏾‍♀️ Yeah - mermaid with a trident. #ThatBossUnderTheSeaBetchThis is my first week trying the One Day, One Job Strategy.We'll see how it goes. But I'd still LOVE to get to that point where I see the problem, and I know the exact solution.
I think Solution #2 is quite likely to lead to burnout. You're already doing so many things; can you keep doing well at your current job while adding another job on top? I'm also concerned that Solution #2 is coming from a place of fear. You don't have all the answers -- but other companies don't have all the answers either! I've felt similarly to you in the past. I've worked predominantly in startup environments where everyone is given a job bigger than their experience and we're all just muddling through, figuring it out together.But recently I started a job at a later-stage company with a much more traditional org chart. And guess what? We're still figuring it out as we go along. There aren't nearly as many best practices or existing guidelines as I thought there'd be. Most of the time I'm starting from first principles and working backward to the best solution I can manage.So much of being successful, whether in a startup environment or a bigger company, is being able to figure things out on the fly. There's not a magical guide to marketing that everyone except you has read and internalized -- and even if there were, the field is evolving and changing every single day; today's best practice will be tomorrow's news.If you want to be successful at your job, I think you'll have much better luck doubling your efforts on your current job. Specifically, I'd figure out what tactics are actually bringing in revenue and focus on those. Maybe that's writing sales enablement materials; maybe it's email marketing. But be ruthless about figuring out what actually works -- not in the content of "marketing best practices," but in the context of your specific business. Are you attracting sales interest at the top of the funnel or converting it at the bottom? Attracting high-value candidates? Bringing on investors? Etc.That's not to say that you can't decide to go somewhere else for a few years as a learning opportunity. But don't go because you think someone else has all the answers. Go because you want to learn how to think about problems.Just my $0.02.
jikajika's profile thumbnail
Squirrel, you know you dropped a $5 bill on my ass-ets and I'm👏🏾here👏🏾for👏🏾it👏🏾#DrippingWithThatKnowledgeI never worry about burnout because I'm used to working two jobs - even if one is of my own making (e.g., side hustles). But you're right. You're wise words have convinced me! I should double down on the job that I have and work with my team to just, figure it out.And you're right. I ALWAYS think other people have the answers - and I just haven't had the experience, or taken the course, or read the book, or worked at the agency - to know the "right" answers. But there's always a new hack. Always a new tool. Always a "something" we have to play catch-up to, or learn, to feel like we belong. Even though we're here - holding our own.Damn you to HELL imposter syndrome!!!Oh, update!My plan to turn one day into one job is working. I FINALLY made the time to look at our email marketing analytics (it's been weeks😬) and it opened up a worm hole of information that may lead to me making a SIGNIFICANT impact on the company's bottomline. I'm HELLA excited about implementing these ideas, as well is the CEO when I gave him the "tight 5" presentation about them.We're going to have a proper meeting with the team tomorrow.Who would've thought that this micro shift in my schedule would open up a plethora of opportunities for me to pounce on, give me peace of mind, and a better control of my days. I'm looking at my days and tasks more clearly now - minus the fatigue & ricocheting thought of "I'm not getting anything SIGNIFICANT done!!!". We'll see how it goes - but I think I'm headed in the right direction. P.S. I'm saving your response whenever I have - doubts.
kirstenpetra's profile thumbnail
+1 to @dorethea131 The 'extra agency internship' idea, while super creative, gave me hives. Your full time hustle is full time -- and being successful may mean learning more, but not in a way that creates so many more responsibilities.I love the earlier idea of figuring out which agencies you can outsource your 'growth' areas to -- so you can learn.All that said, my number one place to start looking is: your funnel / data. What IS working? Pick 1-2 and double down on those ... What ISN'T working? Pick the worst 1-2 conversion areas and dissect / diagnose those -- then devise a fix!
jikajika's profile thumbnail
What timing!Within 5 days of me posting my "whoa is me" rant, I had tripped over some analytics with the CTO. And this opened up a flood gate of information - FLOOD GATES, I SAY!!Next thing you know, I'm doing backstrokes in ALLLLLL the data, that even the CTO OR CEO didn't know about! And when I presented it to the company, everyone immediately got depressed. LMAO!!! XDThe numbers were abysmal. BUT because I had dissected the funnels and data, it gave us a clear picture on what we did and didn't need to be working on. And this hyped the company UP!Now I'm doing EXACTLY what I was ranting about wanting to do - and I'm loving it.What are the odds, right?So 'YES' to what you said! You're 1000% right! Woo!