How Freelancing Catapulted My Marketing Analytics Career

By JayOh!   |  

December 15, 2018   |  

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How Freelancing Catapulted My Marketing Analytics Career

Get The Ball Rolling

When I first started my career, I was a college graduate applying to jobs with no relevant experience.

“I worked installing air conditioners one summer” I would say as I applied to a VP of Marketing Role.

A little naïve coupled with the common challenge of entry level positions requiring some experience, I tried an alternate route: I started looking for freelance projects that I knew I could do (i.e. data entry, creating emails, etc.) I started to land some of these projects and was able toadd some professional experience to my resume. As an added benefit, I built great relationships with the people I was working with and not only did my network expand but my responsibilities expanded as well. At the same time, I continued my full-time job search with a never-improving resume.

Luckily, with my growing experience, I was able to land a full-time sales manager role at a local fitness center. Enamored by how fast I was able to add new skills to my resume, I continued my 9-5 role and also continued taking on new freelance projects in my free time. I was young, ambitious, and determined to move up in the world.

My eyes opened to the importance of learning new skills& focusing on professional development. This inspired me to pursue an MBA at Pace University. At this point, I was going to school, working full time,& freelancing in my spare time. (Not something I would recommend because mysocial life took a big hit but ‘hey you live and you learn’)

By a stroke of luck, I was able to land a freelance research assistant role with a well-established professional in the Marketing Analytics field. Not only did the work give me an edge on the industry but the relationship I built gave me a wealth of connections, insights, & personal development opportunities.

During this time my research contributed to an Academic Journal Article on Marketing Analytics and how organizations can leverage this capability to create a competitive advantage. While it is well understood that Analytics offers tremendous potential to impact business results, our study proved that there are certain stages of adoption a company must go through before seeing this impact. By identifying the factors that hold some companiesback, we were able to devise a plan on how to overcome obstacles & build ananalytically driven advantage.

What this study really opened my eyes to….

The Marketing discipline was changing. The skills required to work in business were changing.  Companies were now being tasked with generating intelligence to improve performance, create insights, and drive customer engagement. No longer could you make a decision without “measuring” and “optimizing”. There needed to be data to support your strategy.  

What was eye-opening for me was that marketing leaders were at the forefront of this change. Why? Because marketing departments were (and still are) overwhelmed by the data created from all the digital channels with which consumers are now engaged in their lives. This challenge has two major components:

  1. How marketers capture and store all this information
  2. How they mine this data & execute on the opportunities

Enter: Marketing & Sales Operations

Marketing Analytics & Technology

This experience allowed me to narrow my focus in on my niche: Marketing Analytics & Technology. I started looking for new projects in this area while simultaneously building my skillset. I acquired certifications, took online courses, attended conferences, and tackled anything else that would give me an edge. I was determined to become a leader in my field.

This growth gave me the skills to land a position at Madison Square Garden leveraging data & insights to support Partnership Sales.  I continued this cycle of full-time work,self-education, & freelancing which helped me land a job at one of the largest Analytics agencies in Manhattan, WPromote.

Here I perfected my skills in Data Engineering and was able to work with brands such as AT&T, Microsoft, & Estee Lauder. I left this company to head up the Analytics function at a popular Men’s Fashion Brand, John Varvatos. I worked directly with the C-Level to implement CRM, Marketing Automation, & Analytics within the organization. We increased sales by 90% and improved data quality tremendously for all departments.

Looking for my next challenge, I found a Financial Institution who was looking to overhaul their analytics capability with a Multi-Million $ Budget. I was part of the small team that overhauled their existing TechStack and implemented Salesforce, Pardot, Adobe Campaign, (among others). Our success here lead to expanding the organization to new states & more locations.

Since then, I have ventured out on my own as a consultant working with startups to drive scalable growth. I provide strategic &technical expertise for Sales & Marketing operations.

I look back at my career and have been lucky enough to work with some of the greatest companies & brands in the world. I have established myself as a leader in my field where companies entrust me with the responsibility to build out their Marketing/Sales Operations Function which they count on to drive the growth of their organization.  

My experience working across different industries & verticals has taught me there are a few common themes in the Marketing & Sales Ops world:

  • Marketing & Sales Alignment is Key
  • Attribution Should be set up Early &Reviewed Often
  • Optimize. Optimize. Optimize.
  • The tools that will win going forward are those that aren’t in silos
  • Your data strategy should be guided by IdentityResolution
  • Organizations Learn Faster When Information isShared Cross-Functionally & from the Top Down

As the world of technology & analytics continues to evolve, I rely heavily upon my formula of education + freelancing. I call this the compound effect.

The Compound Effect

Taking on freelance projects as you grow in your career is the same concept as compounding in investing. You perfect new skills which helps you in your job and allows you to then take on bigger and better projects. Rinse.Wash. Repeat.  

Your continued growth & learning is an investment in yourself that allows you to stay on the cutting edge of trends. Your exposure to multiple projects allows you to connect dots that others do not even know exist.

Invest in learning your craft and applying what you learned in your projects. This is a never-ending pursuit of mastery.

Keep it Rolling

Since I started my career, the freelance market has changed drastically. The “Gig Economy” is a real thing. There are now more opportunities than ever to find freelance projects that can help you catapult your career, build great connections, & make some extra cash (who doesn’t love some extra cash?).

For more experienced freelancers, sites like Toptal.com offer an exclusive way to find great projects. They have built a network of highly qualified and committed freelancers because they take both their projects & freelancers seriously. This type of community is incredibly important. This is where real relationships are built, and the greatest work can be done.

This idea is consistent with a few of my life principles.

  • Build great relationships.
  • Find your zone of genius
  • Never stop building your knowledge & skillset.
  • Do your best work every time

That’s what it is all about.

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