My Digital Marketing Voyage

Posted by Kate Jurras on Thu, Apr 21, 2011

Ashlee Clevenger is a Senior Marketing and Communications Specialist at Yankee Group. See her in action on Twitter at @yankeegroup (for business) and @ashleeclev (for pleasure). This post is part of our Digital Works: Careers in Digital Marketing, Technology, and Media Series. This series profiles the skills and experiences that make careers in this industry exciting, and provides advice to job seekers from the area’s foremost employers and experts.

Once upon a time, I wanted to be a veterinarian. And then I wanted to be a chemist. And then a neurosurgeon. And then a behavioral psychologist. It was a different flavor every week throughout my early undergraduate years. I finally settled on a major (psychology) and a minor (linguistics). Upon graduation, however, I was working part-time at the local visitors center in Charleston, SC (lovely town--worth a visit), with zero job prospects and zero career direction. What to do? I began looking at jobs in cities across the U.S. that I wouldn't mind living in. However, as I began my search, I quickly realized that my liberal arts college degree wasn't going to take me very far from South Carolina. So I took the plunge and enrolled in the corporate communications graduate program at Emerson College and moved my few belongings, and my cat, up to Boston. Hello big city!

In school, my first semester included a class in strategic communication, which began to peak my interests in marketing. When we were asked to write a final paper on any topic, I chose e-mail communication--for reasons I'm still unsure of. It was that fateful decision that turned me into a marketing professional wannabe. And so, I sought a new job to flex my newfound interests and amazing e-mail skills.

I landed my first marketing job at a publishing firm with a large presence in Boston. My role was "marketing assistant" and I mostly did grunt work like creating excel lists... and formatting excel lists... and scrubbing excel lists... not exactly the glamorous position I had envisioned as a marketer in the publishing world. But many publishing houses are fading away--they run shop in a very archaic, tedious way. And I wasn't feeling it. I wanted to be somewhere more fast-paced--somewhere I could actually use new-fangled communications tools. So I began once again to search for a new position. And that's when I discovered that Boston is a technology mecca. And what better place to experiment with cutting edge tools then a company dedicated to technology?

Thus my next, and still present, gig began at Yankee Group--a research firm focused exclusively on the evolution of the network and the people and things it connects. It was the perfect place for a wet-behind-the-ears marketer who wants to have fun and learn A LOT. And a lot I did learn--I plunged immediately into the digital world of marketing: e-mail, social media, Web sites, webinars, and more. This is where it was at.

Digital mediums present so many opportunities--and many challenges. With nearly two billion people on the network everyday, it's a daunting task to ensure that you reach the exact person who's searching for X, and present them with a compelling enough case to get their attention. And now, with social networking connections growing exponentially, and mobile media on your phones, alarm clocks, TV's and everywhere else, marketers have new direct routes to their audience. But those technological advances have also given the audience the power to decide what content and messaging they want to consume. It makes a tough job for folks like me.

Marketing surely ain't what it used to be--no longer do we have captive audiences, just sitting in front of the TV, forced to watch whatever commercial flashes before them. I have a Tivo and I can't even remember the last time I actually watched a commercial. We have to be more innovative, more flexible, more timely and more consumer-minded than ever before. We are well beyond excel list-building and phone-calling. I love the term that local tech firm HubSpot coined: "Inbound Marketing" --they totally have it right there. It's no longer about PUSHING your messages; it's about PULLING the audience to you. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what digital marketing is all about.