When I transitioned into the marketing field after teaching elementary school students for over a decade, I initially thought that the two realms would be completely separate from each other without much overlap. I prepared for a steep learning curve coming from an industry so very unlike the new adventure I was embarking on. I swiftly realized, however, that while teaching is no doubt very different than the marketing world, there are many solid lessons from my teaching background that I can build on. In this blog I discuss six marketing lessons that I’ve learned directly from my experience working in an elementary school environment.
1. Create Your Content Marketing With Your Audience In Mind
As a teacher, perhaps the biggest thing you have to remember is that each student in your classroom is their own unique person with incredibly unique needs. As such, it’s essential to differentiate your instruction as much as possible to meet the needs of each individual child. This need to structure content based on who it is for is directly related to content marketing.
Each client you interact with and create content marketing for requires something different for the target audience that the client is trying to reach. As such, you have to juggle knowing what your client wants and needs with who their audience is and what their desires are. Not a small task by any means, but incredibly valuable in the end.
Marketing Evolution tells us that: “Understanding your target market allows you to build relationships and better communicate with consumers. You can develop creative that speaks to specific personas, and develop brands that coincide with the interests and values of those most likely to purchase the product. This is especially important at a time where consumers expect every ad to be personalized and highly targeted. In fact, 80 percent of consumers say they are more likely to do business with a brand that offers personalized interactions.”
Things to keep in mind when tailoring your content marketing to your target audience are age, gender, location, hobbies, income, education level, profession, etc. Very similar to things that teachers need to consider when designing lessons for elementary students each day.
2. Build A Positive Relationship With Your Marketing Clients Focused On Trust And Clear Expectations Of Each Person’s Role
Part of the focus of any teacher at the beginning of each school year is to develop a strong working relationship with the students and families in their classroom. This involves spending a lot of time designing get to know each other activities, hosting curriculum nights, communicating your expectations for behavior and schoolwork as well as just making the attempt to understand each child and their family as much as possible. While it admittedly takes quite a long time, it helps to create trust and paves the way for a smooth school year. When people truly know who they are working with and what is expected of each group member, there is less chance of miscommunication and misunderstandings along the way. This is an important marketing lesson as well.
In marketing, it’s essential to foster a relationship with clients and their consumers that is built on trust, communication and clear expectations. The beginning of your new relationship with a client should be spent listening to their needs and really getting to know them and their brand. Once you understand who they are and what they stand for, you can begin to identify their expectations for you and work out a plan for how you will develop their content marketing to best suit their needs as well as the needs of their target audience. Taking this time to establish understanding of who your client is, how they prefer to communicate and what they want out of the relationship will only serve to help you create better content for them along the way. Establishing a positive relationship in the beginning will go a long way if there are ever misunderstandings.
3. Never Stop Learning
Every few years teachers need to take a number of classes to maintain their teaching certificate. While it can be a tedious and grumble-inducing process, it really is a great system to ensure that teachers stay up to date with current best practices and it can serve to help them get out of the rut that is so easy to find themselves in.
While there may not be a mandate for content marketers to continue to take classes or credits to maintain their job, it is still incredibly smart to stay on top of current marketing trends. The world and technology changes very quickly. As such, staying up to date on best marketing practices will save you time in the long run and will help your company stand out from the crowd.
You might find a course to enroll in that will help advance your knowledge or career, however your learning doesn’t have to be this formal. Reading articles, attending workshops or webinars or even networking with others can serve the same purpose. If you’re looking for a place to start, Three Girls Media has a large library of informative blogs and podcasts (available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and SoundCloud) about the marketing industry. As long as you operate on the assumption that others have a wealth of knowledge to share and keep an open mind, you will continue to learn and grow in your field – something that will only serve the companies that your marketing business works with.
4. See Failures As An Opportunity For Growth
One of the keys to teaching is to see everything as an opportunity to grow. When students make progress with something that they’ve worked especially hard on you celebrate, and when they struggle you take the opportunity to look at what went wrong, why it happened and what can be done about it in the future. A teacher looks at their own lessons and struggles in the same light. It is by nature a very reflective profession – and so is marketing.
When you first begin to create content marketing for a client, make sure to follow up with them often to see how it is going. If they like what you’ve created, great! You know that you’re on the right track. If they don’t, also great! This gives you the opportunity to ask more questions and see where you might have taken a wrong turn. Stepping away from yourself and identifying a misstep is essential to creating quality marketing content. Make a plan for the future to change what didn’t work and capitalize on what went well.
Do not, however, solely rely on your client’s opinion for what is and isn’t going well (though it is certainly very important). Also look to data to see if what you’re doing is working or needs to be tweaked. Creating marketing content without using analytics as a guide is ill-advised, a waste of your time and energy and a waste of your client’s hard-earned cash that they’ve trusted you with.
5. Be Transparent
Another marketing lesson that can be looked at through the lens of teaching is to be transparent when things have gone wrong. In a classroom this can sometimes take the form of apologizing to students if you’ve had a rough day or being open with parents when you’ve misunderstood a situation that happened between two students. Whatever it is, the best thing to do when a mistake is made is to own up to it and identify how you will change things in the future.
This lesson is especially important when working with your marketing clients. They need to be able to see you as someone they trust, especially since they are dedicating a part of their budget to your services. If you have made a mistake, no matter how big or how small, apologizing goes a very long way. Do not rely heavily on excuses (though they may be very valid) but instead outline how you will ensure that the mistake will not happen again. This Three Girls blog article further discusses in detail steps that you can take in times of crisis. A little transparency goes a long way to building and maintaining trust with your marketing clients.
6. Co-workers Are Your Best Asset
One of the best things to learn while teaching is that your co-workers are your lifeline. No matter what stage of your teaching career you are in, your colleagues are there to provide support, a place to vent, an idea to reach a difficult student or a lesson plan when you’re not feeling well.
The same idea is true in the marketing industry. As someone new to the field I was prepared to try and muddle my way through my new position. What I’ve found is that my co-workers have a wealth of knowledge far beyond my own and are ready to step in at any time with help for anyone who needs it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ever. Admitting you need some guidance is a sign that you care about what you’re doing, and a quick brainstorming session can go a long way when you’re feeling stuck with content creation.
While they might seem like two totally different professions on the surface, teaching and marketing hold quite a few of the same tenets. And keeping these six ideas in mind when you’re in the middle of content marketing creation can help you immensely in the process. Tailoring your content to your audience, building a positive relationship with clients, continuing to learn, using failures as an opportunity for growth, being transparent and recognizing your co-workers as one of your best assets will go a long way in helping you to become successful in your content marketing career.