As a new young professional, entering the work world is an exciting and scary transition. Leaving the comfort and familiarity of college life and diving into your career is a time full of uncertainty, challenges and most importantly, growth. For anyone that’s been through this transition, you know that this is a pivotal time period in determining how you want to establish yourself and where you want to take your career. In the case of a millennial marketing agency, investing in young employees personal growth early on is especially key in creating a passionate and skilled team of employees. Millennials thrive in environments where they feel encouraged to be creative and are nurtured to advance their skill sets.
As a company with a majority millennial employee base, Power Digital saw this need and developed a peer-based mentorship program in an effort to foster growth and provide support for newer employees. Teammates were chosen and paired together based on their unique skill sets with the goal of fostering a relationship that not only benefited the mentee but the mentor as well. Bringing together team members from different departments who may not typically work together, the Power Pairs Mentorship Program encouraged cross-channel collaboration and quantifiable results.
The best part of this type of program? It utilizes the talent you have in-house, fosters relationships between team members, and doesn’t require a hard cost to launch (as opposed to outside trainings or seminars.) That said, we still decided to put a $1,000 on the line to spark the competition!
Keep reading, or check out the video below, to explore a top-notch example as told by mentee Shannon Menard:
Get To Know Your Mentor & Mentee
I started at PDM as an intern for the PR department and moved my way up to PR Coordinator. With almost 3 years experience interning and working in the PR industry, my background is heavily concentrated in the world of media relations.
I was paired with Christiana who is a senior strategist on the content team and has roughly 7 years of experience in the marketing industry. Christiana manages several accounts and has extensive cross-channel marketing knowledge.
Before the mentorship program, we had limited experience working together so this was a very unique opportunity for us to bond and for me to learn from her skill sets. We decided to meet for an hour per week to work towards our goals.
Set Goals & Make Them Measurable
When we kicked off the mentorship program, we sat down to brainstorm what core areas of business and marketing I wanted to improve. After identifying strengths, weaknesses, and future growth goals, we decided on the following:
Goal #1: Improve Client Communication Skills
Why was this selected?
Over the course of my time working at Power Digital, client communication is something that has slowly become more natural to me through each conference call, email, and meeting. That said, this is still an area that I have always felt I could better myself in. As I work my way towards managing client accounts with multiple channels, having exceptional client communication is extremely important in retaining and keeping our clients happy. With Christiana being one of the top performing account managers here at PDM, choosing this as one of our areas of focus was a no-brainer.
How did we do it?
To start off, Christiana had me take detailed notes during each of my client meetings so that I could listen closely to how other team members explained their different channels. I wrote down questions that arose and channel-specific terminology that I didn’t understand which we then went over during our mentorship meetings.
While being fully present in meetings seems like an easy task, we are often so wrapped up in our individual channel or whatever meeting we have next that we forget to really listen. Christiana and I saw these client meetings as an invaluable training and learning opportunity and after only a few meetings I realized just how true this was.
After going through my questions, I not only gained a better understanding of the other channels but also understood how they were working hand in hand with the work I was doing. As a future account manager, being able to speak to other marketing channels is crucial. While most employees at PDM are hyper-focused in a specific area, to be a truly great account manager and overall marketing expert, having this cross-channel knowledge is a critical and necessary skill.
How can you measure this?
While I’ve always felt fairly comfortable speaking to my channel over the phone, in-person client meetings have always been something I’ve struggled with. Once I had a few trainings with Christiana and reviewed my questions, we attended a networking event where we talked with people from various professions and explained what we do at Power Digital. We thought this would be a great opportunity to practice the new skills I’d been working on developing.
When we arrived at the networking event, I was completely out of my comfort zone and nervous as to what questions I would be asked and what I would do if I didn’t know the answer. I quickly realized that the fear I experienced during client meetings and this networking event, was largely in my head. The biggest learning I took away from this was that is that sometimes your worst enemy is yourself. Understanding your inner doubts and fears is the first step in conquering them and the mentorship program gave me the chance to do that.
Overall, the networking event ended up being a huge success, not only helping me to gain confidence in my ability to speak to what our company does, but also in identifying potential new hires and clients. In just two short hours, we met two business owners who expressed interest in working with us down the line and met a new-hire candidate that ended up interviewing with our social media department.
Networking events are something that many don’t take advantage of. Living in a major city like San Diego, we have so many exceptional business prospects right at our fingertips. Networking events are one of the easiest ways to practice speaking about your craft, bring in new business, or recruit potential team members giving employees a huge opportunity for commission. While networking events fall outside of normal work hours, they are an opportunity for team members to go above and beyond what is necessary, which is one of the rules we live by at Power Digital.
Goal #2: Grow Overall Business Savviness
Why was this selected?
The next area we focused on over the course of the mentorship program was improving my overall business savviness. While I felt extremely confident speaking to PR and media relations, I knew taking my career to the next step would mean understanding other channels so I could help strategize and problem solve on my accounts.
How did we do it?
While writing down questions I had from my client meetings was a great first step in growing my cross-channel knowledge, I really wanted to jump into the specifics of various channels.
To do this, Christiana and I met each week to do a brief overview of all the departments at PDM, diving into channel-specific terminology, core deliverables & KPIs, and how the various channels work together. A few of the areas we went over included:
- Outbound vs. Inbound Email
- Funnel Accounts
- Content Audits
- Content Optimization
- Organic vs. Paid social
How can you measure this?
To measure the growth of this goal, Christiana would ask me questions about past cross-departmental trainings and re-explain anything that still was confusing. The more we met and reviewed her questions, the more I impressed myself with my retention of knowledge of our other departments! We included a couple of examples at the end of this blog post for your reference.
All in all, this goal was important because the greater understanding I have of other channels, the more I am able to contribute innovative ideas to my accounts. This ties back to another one of our core values: always innovate.
Goal #3: Increase Business Confidence
Why was this selected?
Confidence has the ability to make or break you in the business world. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how skilled you are if you lack the confidence to tackle your fears and goals head-on. In my experience, the best way to build up this confidence is to throw yourself into situations and experiences that make you scared or uncomfortable.
How did we do it?
Christiana encouraged me to practice running meetings and explaining strategies by conducting a lunch and learn presentation for our interns.
Running meetings is a new skill that I’ve been focusing on developing over the last few months so Christiana and I saw hosting a lunch and learn as a perfect opportunity to put my skills to the test and grow my business confidence.
I built out a deck where I outlined the media relations pitching process A-Z which I then presented to our group of Fall interns. The interns were extremely engaged, asking numerous questions that gave me the opportunity to master my ability to speak to my channel. While some of their questions were simple, others were more complex, challenging me to think of potential questions clients might ask in meetings. Overall, this experience was great practice for what it will be like to lead meetings in the future (tying back to one of my favorite core values: challenge yourself, don’t wait to be challenged!
Christiana also attended my lunch and learn presentation and said she now has a “much deeper understanding of the media pitching production process and is super impressed by my delivery!”
Now that I have tackled this feat, I feel much more confident presenting to the entire company or in-person with my clients!
Review Your Learnings!
Now that you’ve heard how we worked together to hit our mentorship goals, it’s time to reflect!
One of the key components to our success was taking the time to review and refresh on a weekly basis. During mentorship time we uncovered the quote “you play the way you practice.” No matter how much of a seasoned pro you become, it is crucial to always continue sharpening your skills and riding the cobwebs. As an agency that prides ourselves in having team members that are in the weeds and executing on their accounts, we need to make sure our cross-channel knowledge is always front of mind and we don’t get too high in the tower. To do so, Christiana and I continued to practice questions we had covered together.
A few of the questions we reviewed:
What is the main objective of a strategy consisting of on-page SEO, link building, and an SEO-based content strategy?
The main objective of this multi-channel strategy is to increase organic traffic and keyword rankings.
What is the difference between outbound and inbound email?
Outbound email is cold sales outreach, it is non-branded and seems very one-to-one. Inbound, on the other hand, is branded and stylized. Some examples include the following: Post purchase, abandon cart, nurture, etc.
What are a couple best practices for sales messaging?
Two best practices for sales messaging is (1) always make the customer the hero and (2) paint a picture of what life will be like after the customer buys your product or service.
Why do all these content topics sound so similar?
Content clusters are a strategy commonly used by the content team. For this strategy, several articles are built out under one focal topic. For example, a smoothie content cluster could consist of the following articles: high protein smoothies, smoothie recipes for on the go, smoothies with 5 ingredients or less, etc.
By building this web of content and linking the articles to each other, Google has more information to crawl and index around that subject thus, you are rewarded in more keyword rankings. As Google begins to see you as an expert on the subject you will rank higher in the SERPs. (Check out the benefits of a content cluster strategy to learn more!)
What’s the difference between PDM and another marketing agency?
PDM is different than other agencies because we act as a true partner and extension of our client’s marketing team. As an ROI-driven agency, we report on the KPIs that matter most to our clients and always are A/B testing so that can optimize performance for our clients. If something is not performing, we stay nimble and do whatever it takes to figure it out and make the changes necessary to achieve success.
Practice New Skills + Continue To Grow
Looking back to the start of the mentorship program, I can confidently say that I feel like I have improved in each of our core areas of focus and I look forward to continuing to grow each of these skill sets.
Heading into 2019, Christiana and I are excited to continue our mentorship through ongoing training and networking events. While I’m so thankful for my improved sense of self-confidence, cross-channel knowledge, and overall business savviness, I know that we’re only scratching the surface on how much I can learn and grow as a marketing professional. I’m so thankful for the mentorship program for bringing together Christiana and I and giving me the opportunity to not only grow in my career but also gain a lifelong mentor and friend.