This is what starting a new career in Inbound Marketing at 42 is like
Life is not a young person’s game –it’s an inspired person’s game. The line’s not mine, I read it in a book I bought recently.
It spoke to me because, well, I’m not a spring chicken anymore. I’m 42 years old. Which is young, don’t get me wrong, but I’m supposed to have it all figured out by now.
Turns out I don’t. I’ve started to figure it out just now –who I am, what I want, how I want to get it. And this puts me in a fascinating position.
It’s fascinating because I interact with people who don’t know what I know. And what is it I know they don’t?
Inbound, of course. I feel extremely lucky to have discovered Inbound at this point in my life.
It gives me an unfair advantage to observe, listen, meet brilliant people, find new perspectives, try new things, learn, grow, help out, and put myself in situations I wouldn’t have appreciated earlier in my life.
Inbound has given me a place to use my strengths and be myself.
And the best part is, thanks to Inbound I get to do all this in a growing industry.
They say what you seek is seeking you. I believe it’s true, because Inbound totally found me.
Four years ago, the very prestigious financial newspaper I worked for closed its Santiago, Chile, office.
Half of me was pretty terrified of being jobless. The other half wanted something more interesting and challenging. Something that made sense.
About a month later I came across a content developer job ad in LinkedIn. “I could do this”, I thought, although I’d never heard about content marketing before.
But my first job was copywriter for an insurance company, so it couldn’t be that difficult. (I was wrong)
I skipped the application process, tracked the guy down, asked him to try things out and got the job.
Turns out this guy was back from the US and trying this new approach called Inbound Marketing. He explained how it worked and where content fit.
That’s what got me. It made sense. First thing that blew my mind: it’s data driven. I love that you can’t argue with data. It’s healthy and saves time.
Second thing that blew my mind, even more so: moving away from brand-centered crap and focusing on users’ needs and pains.
I’ve always hated bad advertising. I mean, how come we’re still seeing shit like “Feel the power” or “The leader since 1960” –have you noticed, by the way, how many brands say they’re “leaders”?
I loved the idea of selling without manipulation, but by actively helping people reach their goals. I hate being sold to, but I sure love buying the things I want.
That’s why in essence, Inbound creates value for everyone involved: the user, the agency and the client.
But it was a slow process, adopting a client-centered writing style. Simpler, but more substantial in terms of value. It was exciting to try new techniques for improving email open rates and come up with crazy ideas for referrals campaigns. Some of them worked, some didn’t.
And as I started to learn the importance of talking less about yourself, and more about what matters to the client, I realized I was in the wrong place.
After three years I wanted to grow and contribute more, be heard more, and make some decisions regarding my work. I wanted to go deeper and wider in Inbound, and wasn’t gonna get that chance in that organization.
So I found a new job as head of marketing at a technology expo firm and quit.
A few days in, I realized I’d made a mistake. Red flags were everywhere.
During the application and interview process, everyone was onboard with Inbound. However, I later found myself losing every battle to convey the importance of “less product, more help” to management.
All my ideas were getting dismissed. We were spending insane amounts of money in paid ads. We were sending out two page-long emails. I couldn’t even get authorization to use landing pages.
That’s when I realized Inbound scares the shit out of some people.
So, after having the “you hired me to lead and implement Inbound, not to say yes to everything” discussion for the seventh time in two months, I decided to quit. But this time I had no plan.
I started looking for opportunities right away. Asking around, thinking about business ideas and, of course, scouring LinkedIn.
So I guess I really owe LinkedIn a big THANK YOU, because one fine day I came across an ad that said something like, “IDS Agency is looking for Inbound professionals to grow their Inbound team”.
I fit every criteria in the job description and there was opportunity for growth. But the surprise came in the second job interview.
A pleasant surprise
Turns out I’d met IDS Agency’s managing partners, Ranya Barakat and Ismail Aly, at Santiago HubSpot User Group event in Santiago a year before. I could see what they were trying to do strategically and remember thinking, “these guys know Inbound”.
Fast-forward to February 2017 and, let me tell you, I’ve never been in such a weird –in the best sense of the word– job interview. We were on exactly the same wavelength.
I’ve never grown so much as I have in the past year. It’s been like a condensed business crash-course and personal growth seminar wrapped into one.
What inspires me about Inbound is that it aligns with my personal values. And now I’m in the right place and working with the right people. I’m enjoying the heck out of it –for the first time in my life.
I get to do sales. I get to lead a content team. I get to discuss strategy. I get to opine. I get to be creative. I get to think about the business. I get to connect dots both inside and outside myself I didn’t see before.
All because Inbound changes one little, but key thing in marketing: focusing on the client.
I landed feet-first in the best company in Chile for me at this point in time and space.
Ranya and Izzy came to Chile from Egypt with nothing and built their business from zero. We now have 14 clients of all sizes and growing –so no-one can tell me Inbound doesn’t work.
Boy does it work, and I feel incredibly privileged to be part of this sea-change in the local business ecosystem.
We get obtuse clients every now and then, but they usually shut up when they see the data and the numbers.
So yes, I am incredibly grateful for getting a chance to start a new career in Inbound at age 42. I have no plan B.
Inbound is my clean slate, the magic bullet I use to sit down with startup whiz-kids, seasoned entrepreneurs and old-school business types and ask, “how can I help?”.
This is why I firmly believe this life is not a young person’s game –It’s an inspired person’s game.
The keys belong to whoever is inspired, and no specific, sex, gender, or cultural background has a monopoly on inspiration. When you’re creative you render your competition obsolete, because there is only one you and no-one can do things exactly the way you do.
That last paragraph too is from the book I told you about. I didn’t write it, but it perfectly sums up the way I feel about life right now.
I hope it inspires you to go deeper and wider in Inbound, especially if you’re just starting a new career in this wonderful, fascinating discipline.
And if you want to know the book I’m talking about, well, you can always drop me a line.