For years, David Rogers worked as an online marketing consultant for a wide variety of clients from industrial manufacturers, to CDNow, and 1-800-Flowers.
Now, through "no grand master plan -- it was all opportunities that sort of popped up," Rogers wound up on the client-side, working as Brooks Brothers' in-house Affiliate Marketing Specialist.
We asked Rogers what Net consultants considering a career change can expect from a client-side position.
-> When you're the lone expert, client-side feels entrepreneurial
Rogers researched a number of different creative agencies and saw, "a lot of neat stuff going on," he says. But he wasn't sure he wanted to go that route…
"I met with the senior VP of Saatchi & Saatchi, a family friend, and he said, 'You're never going to be happy working for someone else,'" Rogers says.
He chose to work for a big company like Brooks Brothers because "even though you have to check in and check out, you're sort of in control of your own business," he says. "It's like working for yourself."
In part, that's because even big companies often have only one Internet marketing person. So while you can be pretty independent, you also have nobody to fall back on, which means you need to know a little bit of everything.
"You become your own one-person shop," Rogers says. "You have to know HTML, the difference between a gif and a jpeg, the latest developments in search engine marketing."
On the other hand if there's no team, there's no teamwork. "I miss the Marines because of the camaraderie -- you know, you had to complete the mission," says Rogers. "I see agencies as sort of the same mindset… here's the goal and we all have to work together."
It's not like that in a company like Brooks Brothers where there's really no Internet team.
-> Fitting Net marketing into traditional corporate culture
o As perhaps the only advocate of online marketing, you have to upsell your ideas to people who may not be ready to hear them. At the same time, sometimes you're dealing with unrealistic expectations, so you may have to downsell ideas, too.
For example, if your boss goes to a conference and hears about a terrific new online initiative, you may be approached with, "Hey, this doesn't cost anything, why aren't we doing this?"
You need to be able to downsell the idea without actually saying, "Sure, give me 30 hours of IT time and some new software…"
Other times, your job is simply to inform, and sometimes you have to take some blame. "Maybe not often," Rogers says, "but if you're not getting in trouble occasionally, you're probably not pushing the envelope."
o The hours are good. As a consultant, says Rogers, "You have to deliver and if you don't the client is going to freak. Here, you have a more holistic view, the world doesn't end. You know there are times when you have to pull things together, but it's not a constant rush."
In fact, he says, he mostly works 8:30 to 5:30.
o You can't get hung up on titles. "Your job is not defined by your title but by your responsibilities," Rogers says. "Focus on the scope of the position, not the title, because you'll get upset. You could have a coordinator title at a 100-year-old publishing company and that could be equal to the title of director at another company."
o It's easy to fall off the cutting edge if you're reporting to people who don't know much about online marketing. "You can get comfortable in your job because the people that you're delivering to see this as all new," he says. "So something that's 12 months old to one of us might be brand new to them. It's a comfort trap."
-> The budget battle
The days of passionate battles about the budget are over, Rogers says. Instead, Internet marketers have to prove themselves with numbers.
"You sell yourself every week when you turn in your reports," he says. "Battles about the budget won't necessarily result in anything. Instead, it's showing the numbers and saying, 'Here's where the ROI is.'"
In the meantime, "You find ways to do what you can with what you have."
-> How to land a client-side position
If you're considering moving to a client-side, you need to know present a targeted plan. Learn quickly what information prospective employers need (not always what they say they need) and narrow it down to a couple of data points.
"That's how you demonstrate your value," says Rogers. "You separate the wheat from the chaff."
Try to avoid becoming too narrowly focused on one specific aspect of the market. "Hobnob with your pals in other groups," he says. "To come in and be able to do a spreadsheet and analysis and then 10 minutes later be able to go do a creative brief is key."
And you'd better have had the chance during a previous job to hone your all-around Internet marketing skills. "On client-side, we're not teaching those skills," Rogers says. "You have to bring them with you."
-> A final word
Switching to a client-side career may be disconcerting for the established consultant. "You can be in a room that's just hostile to your discipline," Rogers says. "You're really an island once you come client-side."
Still, after a long stint as a consultant when you've worked harder than you would anywhere else, switching to client-side just may be worth it. Why would you do that, just when you're really established?
"I've heard it called cashing in your chips," says Rogers.
FYI: Rogers' contact information for you (please don't abuse it)
David Rogers Affiliate Marketing Specialist Brooks Brothers 346 Madison New York, NY 10017 212 885-6856 email@example.com http://www.brooksbrothers.com
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