Digital Marketing arrived in the 1990s globally, wherein in India it started between 1996-2005. Nowadays, it is common to find professionals who are digital marketers everywhere. But Digital Marketing as a profession or career stream has been losing the charm due to inexperienced and fake experts.
One of the most asked questions, whenever I meet youngsters, is "How do I become a digital marketer?". I have been pondering on the same for quite some time now and derived the PLAAS method to answer the question. Now PLAAS method will give you a framework for becoming a good digital marketer across 180 days.
Who is a Good Digital Marketer?
As I mentioned above, there are loads of snake oil salesmen disguised as digital marketers these days. These people might come across as experts and growth hackers and may lure you onto the wrong path, focused on the wrong goals. We do not want that, do we?
So a good digital marketer is someone who understands the basic concepts of the digital world and its applications to marketing products and services. He/she has invested time and resources to learn the intricacies of the stream and has dedicated time to deliver proven results. As a digital marketing professional, your results must speak for you.
Why 180 Days for Becoming a Digital Marketer?
Any form of marketing needs two things to be fruitful - time and patience. As Marketing Guru Philip Kotler says, "Marketing takes a day to learn. Unfortunately, it takes a lifetime to master., Digital Marketing also will demand time to learn the craft. So I believe, if you dedicate 180 days to learning the craft, you will come out as a respectable digital marketer who delivers results.
What is PLAAS Framework?
PLAAS is an acronym for
This framework will help any newbie to champion digital marketing methodologies and tactics. PLAAS will not only get you introduced to the concepts but help you apply them and deliver results too. So let's dive in.
Plan (Duration: 0- 10 Days)
The starting point of your journey to be a digital marketer is deciding why you want to become one. That is what the Plan stage is all about. In this phase, you need to ask honest questions to yourself like:
Why do I want to become a digital marketer?
Is it for better career prospects or money or anything else?
What qualities do I possess that can be my strength on this new path?
What qualities do I lack and need to develop to be a good digital marketer?
What are my goals in life that this career path can fulfill?
What directions do I want to take in this path? Full-time employee? Freelancer? Consultant?
More questions can be added to these based on who you are and the stage of your career. But if you answer these questions honestly, you will be clear on your decision to be a digital marketer. The result of this stage is a goal sheet that will be your compass throughout your digital marketing career.
An example can be "I want to be a digital marketer who is a content expert and helps small and medium businesses learn content marketing. My creative writing is my asset on this journey and I intend to build a successful blog to showcase my expertise.
Learn (Duration: 10- 60 Days)
Congratulations on completing the Plan phase that is the most difficult step of this framework (if you ask me). The next step we want to get with is the Learn phase. Learn is where you get yourself introduced to Digital Marketing as a subject. In this phase, you need to focus on grasping the basics and foundations of the subject. In these 50 days, you will dedicate yourself to learning how the digital world works and how marketers can make use of the digital environment for growing brands.
Digital Marketing is an intricate subject (do not listen to the snake oil salesmen). Without basics, you will be one of those marketers who rely on an only couple of tactics to deliver the results. We do not want that. The PLAAS framework is designed to make you an all-around digital marketer who can deliver results for any business using digital platforms. So invest time to find the right resource or material that gives you the right information from basics to advanced.
What to Learn During This Phase?
As a digital marketer, you need to learn and understand the following:
What is Digital Marketing?
How do digital platforms like social media function?
What are the common digital marketing tactics? Social media marketing, inbound marketing, content marketing, SEO, and more
What is a buyer persona, and how to build one? Refer this tool
Search engines and how they function
Marketing analytics, including Google Analytics, Social Media Analytics, and more
How to build a website? How do search engines rank a website?
Paid marketing tactics like Facebook ads, Google ads, etc
Role digital marketing plays in a B2B v/s B2C environments
Email Marketing concepts and tools
Content Marketing basics
Some of the resources I highly recommend for Learn phase are:
Hubspot Academy: Hubspot, founded by Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan, is the team that developed the "Inbound Marketing" methodology. Hubspot academy offers amazing free courses on Inbound Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Content Marketing, and more.
Google Digital Garage: Google digital garage offers free and certification courses on every facet of Digital Marketing. Check the portal for identifying the right courses and completing them.
Google Analytics Academy: Analytics is a key piece of your digital marketing journey. So, I advise you to learn from the masters themselves - Google. Get acquainted with Google Analytics and understand how search engines work.
Meta (Facebook) Blueprint: Meta has a plethora of courses on how to grow your business using the Meta environment. This includes promoting your business on Facebook, running ads, Instagram, and more.
Coursera: One of the best online learning platforms with loads of free courses that can help you understand the concepts of Digital Marketing. Identify the right courses, sign up and complete for free or paid (if you need certification).
Note: As I believe in Thrifty Marketing, I have mentioned only free resources above so that you can be a Digital Marketer for "free".
Apply (Duration: 60- 120 Days)
A BIG Congratulations on completing the most crucial phase of the PLAAS framework. Now comes the Apply stage, where you will earn your medal of honor as a Digital Marketer. In this phase, you will put everything you learned to the test. As the famous saying goes "the proof is in the pudding", this phase will prove the effectiveness of your learnings.
During this phase, you can complete several tasks such as:
Setup your first website/blog using WordPress or any website builder
Setup Google Analytics for your website/blog
Write search engine optimized content for your website/blog
Set up your social media channels, including Facebook page
Prepare some buyer personas
Develop your first digital marketing strategy and plan
Create your first content calendar and social media calendar
Explore guest posting opportunities
Connect with some marketing influencers and engage in conversations
Participate in some insightful Twitter chats
Build an email list and run an email marketing campaign
Setup and run some paid campaigns on Google and Facebook
Setup your LinkedIn account and start publishing your articles
The basic premise of Apply phase is to do everything that you learned at least once yourself. Nothing teaches you better than doing the tasks once yourself.
Assist (Duration: 120- 150 Days)
Now, you must be feeling confident in your journey of becoming a Digital Marketer. You must be feeling proud to see your website getting some traffic (stay away from so-called experts still), your content getting some engagement on social channels, etc. That's how you achieve greatness - one step at a time. The Assist phase is critical in determining your success as a marketer in the future. So pay attention.
Jim Rohn had once said, "Only by giving are you able to receive more than you already have." This phase is all about serving others using your digital marketing skills. Look out for individuals and businesses in your network who can benefit from the power of Digital Marketing. Offer support (for free) and educate them about the benefits digital marketing can bring for them. Reach out to people in your social media network and offer them help with content writing or social media management or paid ads, or anything that can benefit them.
Note: Make sure you leverage your work (website, social media, etc.) to prove your case. Document your wins and share them via your digital presence (blogs and social media channels).
Scale Up (Duration: 150- 180 Days)
Pat yourself on the back if you have reached the final stage of the PLAAS framework. You have traversed a long path, and now you are a digital marketer with a solid foundation and work ethic. Now let's move on to defining your future career trajectory.
During the Plan phase, you would have decided your career path - employee or freelancer, or consultant. Now it is time to bring that plan to fruition. The time has come to scale up your digital marketing journey. If you want to take up a full-time role as a digital marketer, start looking for the ideal role on job portals and social media networks. I recommend LinkedIn jobs, and if you have done your branding correctly, there will be your connections looking for talent like you. Leverage them.
If you want to become a freelancer or consultant, you can start charging the businesses who had availed of your services for free. You can ask for testimonials and reach out to similar organizations with your pitch. Remember - for a professional digital marketer the sky is the only limit for opportunities. So, identify your core strength, develop your USP, decide on the right niche, and go after them.