That’s right, I’ve just clocked up a whole month at the coal face of inbound marketing at marketing agency Six & Flow without getting fired, upsetting any co-workers or losing any clients. I must be doing something right…
You can read more about it all here:
Being brand spanking new to inbound marketing, my first week here was hectic: I had a LOT to learn. But luckily Six & Flow is packed full of people who understand starting a new career in inbound isn’t easy, that people aren't robots, and that inbound marketing (done well) is harder than it looks; which meant my first day was pretty much just spent drinking coffee, eating biscuits and chatting to my new colleagues about what they do. Now, look me in the eye and tell me that isn't a good first day at work?
Day two began with a daily scrum (the office, not rugby sort) discussing how the various social media, blogging, and reporting tasks for clients were to be conducted that day. This was a great insight into just how varied my new role was going to be here at it became immediately obvious every member of the Six & Flow team is encouraged to perform a variety of functions for multiple clients. (Oh, and I also got taken for lunch, which is also a great way to start a new job).
Day three was all about being social when I was given training on a key client’s social media strategy so I could learn the correct voice, tone and preferred approach for that particular brand; they even let me write a few tweets of my own (three days in and I’m already an online influencer).
Day four started with a visit to our new offices (more about that later) and ended with being given time to continue becoming HubSpot certified thanks to the various courses available online through the HubSpot Academy (a must for anyone wanting to get the most from the platform).
Day five? More morning scrums, more work on social media strategy, a spot of blog writing, and the completion of two more HubSpot certifications. But it wasn't all work, we did stop late afternoon for some well-deserved office beers.
Before I go into what I’ve been up to this week, I want to talk about a significant reason I decided to join Six & Flow in the first place - office dogs.
I appreciate that may not seem the best reason to leave a good job for an industry in which I have zero experience, but it’s true. Why? Because I realised if they’re dog people (Six & Flow have a selection of office dogs who all make regular appearances) they’re likely to be my kind of people. During the working week we probably spend more time with our colleagues than we do with friends and family. And while I’m not saying everyone you work with should be your new best mate or future spouse, if you are going to spend over forty hours with a group of people, then it’s probably a good idea to choose ones you like (or can at least tolerate).
Working with the right people has always been important to me and ‘culture fit’ is a core recruiting policy for Six & Flow. But that doesn't mean we have an office full of robots; it just means we’re a group of people who love what we do, respect the values of others and understand the importance of having a solid team. There aren't many office rules here at Six, but one policy the company are keen on is that when you are in the office, 'just don't be a dick’: a sentiment I can get behind 100%.
Right, enough about why I like working here. Let's talk about what I’ve been doing.
Most days I’ve been getting in early to continue becoming HubSpot certified. With each course being anywhere between 2-9 hours long, it’s easy to see why I need to find extra time to squeeze them all in (if I’m serious about ‘levelling up’ my inbound marketing game, that is). But Six have also been great in letting me complete some of the certifications on company time. Yes, me being better qualified certainly helps Six in the long run, but it’s still nice to work for a company who value self-development and allow their staff to learn on the job.
The rest of the week has been spent writing informative blogs for a variety of Six & Flow services. One of the core principles of inbound marketing is offering value to prospective customers right from the start. But sometimes this means you can end up investing both time and effort creating content for clients who may never buy your product. In fact, your content could even help them decide your competitors’ product or service is better suited to their needs.
Sounds strange, doesn't it? A marketing company not only willing to market for free but one who are also prepared to risk discouraging prospects by suggesting alternative solutions. But it makes sense: by being open and honest about your products and services from the beginning, it means prospects can make better-informed decisions based on their needs and are more readily converted when the time comes. Not only that, but the ones who didn’t buy are also likely sing your praises elsewhere in the industry thanks to your informative, helpful content: it’s a win-win for everyone involved.
It was no secret to my new employer that before joining Six & Flow I knew very little about inbound marketing: but luckily that wasn't a barrier. First, while I hadn’t worked directly in ‘inbound marketing’ I did come with a couple of English degrees and commercial sales experience. Second, I was open and honest from the beginning about who I was, what I knew, and the direction in which I wanted to head. You see, Six & Flow aren’t just about the right skills, they also want to build a team that works well together in an open, honest environment.
But if I'm talking about honesty, then it’s only right I explain my odd introduction to the company (either to encourage or deter more of the same behaviour). My first contact with Six & Flow was a direct LinkedIn message to our Managing Director, Rich Wood, stating that while I probably wasn't exactly what he was looking for, if he was interested in “a grower, not a shower” (yes, I really said that) then he should give me a call. After four days passed, I’d resigned myself to the idea it probably wasn't the best message to send a prospective employer. But, I was wrong. As it turned out they'd either liked, tolerated, or ignored my strange approach and cut to a couple of interviews later I was part of the team.
Yes, I came to Six & Flow with a host of transferable skills, but it’s only because I’d been honest about my skill gaps that I’ve been able to learn so much. By not being afraid to ask questions, and by being open about what they could/ should expect of me, I’ve avoided the pitfalls of over-promising and under-delivering. Yes, sometimes I’ve had to be shown how to do things more than once, but that’s ok. As stated earlier, Six & Flow are the type of company that understand meaningful growth takes time, that people aren't robots, and that inbound marketing (done well) is harder than it looks.
This week has been all about versatility. Being an inbound marketer means you need to wear lots of different hats (and often all at the same time). Not only do you need to be an engaging writer, a friendly account manager, a social media wonder, and a skilled researcher, but you also need enough technical ability to make sure your dazzling content isn't thwarted by technology. Now, that doesn't mean you need to be an IT whizz (luckily, Six & Flow have a superb onsite design and dev team) but you do need a basic understanding of the digital world.
If last week focused on constructing an effective inbound blog, this week was about why, where and how blogs reach their target audience (which in most cases for both Six & Flow and our clients is via the marketing automation platform, HubSpot).
One thing Six & Flow have taught me is that not only does your content need to be engaging, accessible, and helpful, but it must reach the right people, at the right time, through the right channels. With this in mind, I've been learning how to navigate HubSpot to understand how to cluster various types of content around a shared topic, the importance of a strong SEO strategy, the value of monitoring content engagement, and the power of deploying a well-designed CTA (Call-to-Action) if you want to nurture interested prospects through your sales process.
I also attended a co-hosted marketing event with Six & Flow partner and conversational marketing specialists, Drift. The event saw our own intrepid leader, Rich Wood, talking about how Six & Flow deploy conversational marketing and chatbots for both ourselves and clients. But I do need to stress (as I did to my wife when I got home that night), even though I’d spent the night gorging on free beer and pizza, it was *technically* still work (but I admit, it’s nice work if you can get it).
This last week also saw us move into the brand new bigger, better, faster, stronger Six & Flow company headquarters in Manchester’s bohemian Northern Quarter.
(But it's important to say even though the new office is surrounded by a LOT of cocktail bars and pubs, that's obviously not the main reason we chose this particular location: that’s the story we’re sticking with, anyway).