Growth marketing: year 2
It's been two years now since that I moved from a Head of SEO position to an individual contributor (IC) and then manager role in Growth Marketing. Last year, I published an article to share my first thoughts after one year and I also had the opportunity to talk about it with Mordy Oberstein on his excellent podcast in the first half of 2022. Here's what I learned during my second year in growth marketing.
Going back to being an IC
I would recommend anyone to do that while switching jobs. Going from a manager role to an individual contributor one gives you the opportunity to:
- Gain trust from your colleagues.
- Gain confidence in your hard skills.
- Keep up with your industry knowledge.
- Establish your legit side among your new teammates.
- Learn new things and develop your creativity while doing so.
You also have the opportunity to learn about your new vertical and / or market; and to get familiar with internal KPIs and work methodology. Also, you are at the position from where you can challenge this kind of things: KPIs, data lecture and collection, etc. Being an IC, you have the 360 vision of how things work at your new company, how people work together, etc.
This Twitter thread from Gergely Orosz reflects on the upsides of this move and is not limited to EM or PM roles:
Going from a manager role to an IC one may be seen as a downgrade in someone's career or as something doubtful but it's not. When you look at someone's Linkedin profile, the vast majority of the time, you see an IC role at the beginning of its career and then manager roles within different companies. So, in the end, this is the idea we have once we get promoted as a manager: "I won't go back to an IC role anymore". The truth is: for having switched twice from a manager role to an IC one, I can guarantee you this is a smart move; especially when you're still young. I'm not sure I will do it a third time because I know now how I can contribute at my best as a manager.
One key of success for me (ndlr. in being promoted again) is that I've been promoted manager after exactly one year within the company and I didn't ask for it. C-levels were then able to see that I fitted the vision they had for managing and leading the growth marketing team. It's much more powerful that way than directly joining the company as a manager; much more powerful than the idea they could have had of my profile during the hiring process and much powerful in terms of personal confidence.
Broaden your vision
I'm not a pure SEO anymore. I manage both the paid and organic acquisition; plus the retention for the growth marketing team. This is the perfect illustration for going out of your comfort zone. Among new things you need to learn and understand, you need to start from scratch for particular topics: best practices for new hard skills, identify brilliant people from whom you can learn on new topics (in my case: product management, paid acquisition, mobile apps acquisition, retention strategies, etc.). You're not an ultra specialist anymore and you can now have a word on multiple topics within your company. And to do so, you must broaden your vision. This is how you will be able to bring added-value to your company strategy. You are now able to take a step back and view things from a bigger picture than your specialty one.
At Pictarine, every employee has an high level of contribution to the company's success and strategy for the weeks to come. Either you're a developer or a marketer for instance, you can contribute to any topic that seems relevant to you for the company's success: finance, partnerships, internal culture, etc.
Working in the growth team (but I'm sure it's the same for other teams at any company); you can easily contribute to your company's strategy (as well as challenge it) from a particular stand-point: identify new business opportunies, profitable audiences, etc. Depending on your company culture about innovation and new ideas, it can be an excellent opportunity to start acting as an intrapreneur.
Thoughts on personal branding
Probably the thoughest point. I'm not super active on Twitter for instance, I tweet from time to time, mostly to "promote" my articles but I look at my feed on a daily basis. I joined Twitter in 2015 and I exclusively followed people in the SEO field and tweeted only about this topic. This is how I built my audience, growing it from 0 to 1.8K followers (mainly thanks to Merci Larry and the conferences I attended as a speaker). That's a lot for someone tweeting once every three months in average. Still, now that I'm more into growth marketing than SEO only, I'm not able to grow a new audience on top of the existing one: my current followers probably expect the same level of technicality while potential new followers are looking for various topics around growth marketing. When I publish a new article about SEO, I get tons of feedback and sharing. On the contrary, my articles about growth marketing do not work at all. I'm obviously less technical, willing to share concepts and thoughts rather than Python / R scripts and Data (Looker) Studio templates. It's something I need to iterate on this year. So far, personal branding is difficult once you shift in your career path.