Career Planning

3 Companies To Study Right Now If You Want To Launch Your Career in Digital Marketing in 2020

Mitchell Earl
November 2019

If I could choose one and only one trait of the most successful marketers I know, natural curiosity tops the list. When I think of natural curiosity in its basest form, it’s the kid who always asked why two to three more times after someone just gave a thorough explanation. In a more grown up sense, it’s the person who tugs on the string of an idea until the entire mystery unravels before their eyes – what started as a simple Google search quickly unfolds into hours of deliberate research, conversations, and Amazon book purchases chasing some burning question.

Does that sound like you? Are you prone to chasing after why? Because if it is, marketing may be a great setting to start your career.

In marketing, a burning desire to answer why can be a super power. It’s a strong precursor to an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, for learning broadly and deeply about a concept, and for gaining a more meaningful understanding of the world around us.

As a marketer, that desire to learn – both about how the world works and how people engage with it – is the foundation to unlocking the secrets of why and how buying decisions are made, and how to influence people.

If you fancy yourself as curious, eager to learn, or fascinated by how people make decisions…well, a career in digital marketing just might allow you to scratch your itch. And to help with that calling, I’ve put together a list of a few of my favorite marketing companies – and why I think the approaches they’ve taken in building their brands are worth emulating, especially if a career in digital marketing interests you.

Here’s the list:

Buffer

When it comes to managing social media and sharing your company’s story, Buffer has got you covered. They’ve got a great, user-friendly, and beautifully-designed product. But more importantly than their product, what I love most about Buffer is their commitment to radical transparency as a company strategy and the way they’ve consistently leaned on this value to build equity in their brand.

Their approach to building team and organizational continuity through open and candid coverage of their journey really highlights the thoughtfulness they’ve put into what kind of company they’re building – which is probably extra critical as a fully-distributed team.

Some specific things Buffer has done that I think are really special:

  • Keeping in line with their values, Buffer published its formula for determining compensation, and even more radical, publicly shared their entire CAP table. Take Buffer’s transparent salary calculator for a spin.
  • The Buffer Bootcamp: A while back, Buffer used a 45-day trial period for all new employees – so both the team and individual could get acquainted, experience working with one another, and evaluate if it was a great fit. I love the concept of the trial period – especially for early-stage companies or entry-level employees who might not be 100% sure about their career paths yet. And even though the program is no longer active, they reinforced their values again in a public, detailed and forthright explanation of why they discontinued the Buffer Bootcamp.

Buffer’s amazing consistency sticking to their values really sets them apart. It’s easy for a company’s leadership team to talk about their core values and hang them up on the wall of the office lobby. But what’s not so easy is sticking to your guns as your company gets older, bigger, and more visible publicly. Agree with their values or not – I think the commitment to their guiding principles and the type of company they envision is both rare and worthy of admiration. It’s not just good marketing; it’s good business.

Sounds like a pretty great company, right? Check out Buffer’s career openings to see what opportunities might be a great fit for you.

Drift

I have a confession. I have a legit marketing crush on Drift. So if you can forgive my fanboy admiration, I’m going to spell out exactly why I think Drift is a company worth studying and following if you’re serious about launching a career in digital marketing today.

A year or so ago, I was looking for something new to listen to, so I asked a few close friends what their favorite podcasts were – after several glowing endorsements for a podcast called Seeking Wisdom, I opened up iTunes to see what all the fuss was about.

Before I even knew what happened, I’d listened to half a dozen episodes – which quickly grew to hundreds. Whether you’re a fanatic listener or unfamiliar with the show like I once was, here’s a quick ditty about why it quickly became a top podcast I listen to and recommend to anyone looking for a new audio fix:

Have you ever been on an airplane and caught the tail-end of a really interesting conversation (you know, the kind that makes you perk your ears up with intrigue) from a passenger two or three rows ahead of you in first-class? My knee-jerk reaction is usually something to the effect of, “Man, that guy sounds really smart. That must be how he got rich enough to afford to fly first class while I’m back here in coach with my knees in my chest.”

Okay. Well, for me, listening to Seeking Wisdom is a lot like that. It’s like getting a free pass to sit in on a really good conversation between two people who are further along in their lives and careers and approach big ideas with the kind of open and honest intellectual curiosity that’ll make you want to get out a pen and paper and take notes.

And if I’m being completely honest, the majority of content the Drift team produces – podcast, blog posts, books, social media posts, product releases…the whole kit and caboodle – carries a similar mark: warm, personal, and as inviting as the scent of your Mom’s fresh apple pie right out of the oven.

Or to borrow a line from Holden Caulfield, Drift’s content delivers this same kind of appeal:

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”

― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

But here’s the real kicker. Are you ready for it?

Drift has also built a suite of products that allows any business to inject the same friendly, personal, and inviting conversational approach into all of their interactions with customers, website visitors, prospects, you name it. In other words, they’ve perfectly aligned their product and company with a problem businesses everywhere want to solve: In a world filled with noise, how can we get through to our customers?

Pretty nifty, huh?

Drift is executing to a tee what legendary marketer and one of the world’s top-rated podcast hosts, Christopher Lochhead coined as “Category Design” in his best-selling book, Play Bigger.

Drift’s design of their company, product, and the category – Conversational Marketing – is a marketer’s dream case study, because it’s happening right now. And if you’re even one percent as hyped as I am about what they’ve done and the lessons you can learn from it as a young marketer, then head on over to Drift’s career page and learn what it takes to help ’em make their magic.

HubSpot

Back in 2011 (or was it 2012?), I picked up a copy of a new-ish marketing book that was all the rage called Inbound Marketing by a couple guys named Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. The exact same copy still holds its own special place on my bookshelf, although I admit its pages are more worn and scribble-filled than they were back then.

Thanks to Google, Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress – to name a few – my entire almost-digital-native generation witnessed the infancy of a brand new category of business: digital marketing.

Suddenly, putting your message out into the world for all to see didn’t seem so impossible – or scary (yet). But leveraging content as a way to invite customers to engage with your business in the new fully-digital age was still far from mainstream.

Until HubSpot bursted upon the scene with their brilliant definition of a problem every business big and small wants to solve – How do we get customers to come to us?

Enter Inbound Marketing. A radical strategy to get found by your customers – using all of the platforms consumers the whole world over were already rapidly adopting and spending hours of their life on each day.

Sure, a lot of people and businesses were trying this approach. But Hubspot became the de facto source of truth for this fresh new marketing innovation – and the term inbound marketing has now long been synonymous with their brand.

That’s marketing at its finest, if you ask me.

HubSpot transformed marketing as we knew it – and was (still is) a pioneer in paving the way to all of the unimaginable progress the marketing industry now enjoys today.

Small aside: A while back, I felt a burning question to dig deeper into the different tactics HubSpot used to drive growth at different stages in the company’s lifecycle – and it quickly turned into a 20+ slide deck mini-case study on HubSpot’s evolution. Long story longer, if you want a great marketing playbook for how to go from zero to category domination, study HubSpot’s history.

HubSpot is behind so many awesome tools – like Website Grader and Inbound.org (now GrowthHub).

And if you’re looking for another phenomenal organization to jumpstart a career in digital marketing, you can’t go wrong exploring opportunities to make your mark with a company as prolific in the marketing community as HubSpot. But don’t just take my word for it – here’s a link to HubSpot’s career page.


Still not sure if a career in digital marketing moves the needle for you? Visit our Marketing resource page to learn why it’s a great role to gain valuable real-world experience and develop skills that’ll help you get a get a head start professionally.

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