How Failing My Clients in 2021 Made Me a Better Marketer

After the 2020 Pandemic, we had to shift course as a company.

Previously, we focused our digital marketing efforts on servicing a niche industry – property management. (For those of you who may not know what that is, think of an apartment complex. Now, think of the corporate entity that manages multiple complexes in multiple markets across the US. Some of these corporate companies were our biggest clients.)

Fast forward to surviving the Pandemic and rebuilding in 2021, after businesses everywhere had to learn the power of the pivot.

For us, the pivot encouraged us to expand our business model to service more businesses on the rise. Some of these clients were lawyers, speakers, chiropractors, spa owners, hair care brands, tech companies, and more.

My entire career had been spent servicing Property Management. All I knew about business since I was 22 years old working in the Marketing department of corporate offices, was corporate marketing.

Given that corporate companies are traditionally large and successful, I believed that what I was learning there were the best, most successful marketing techniques you could use for a large, thriving business.

However, when your work experience is homogeneous, it becomes hard to adapt to changing environments and clients who have very different business models. Thus, you can imagine that when I applied my ten years of traditional marketing experience to these non-traditional, “new-age” clients, my work flopped and failed. 

My failures were the most noticeable in the emerging spaces that have the greatest opportunity for growth and authenticity, namely: Social Media. In these spaces, the audiences are more savvy and educated. They have the internet at their fingertips and can quickly sift and sniff out discrepancies and incongruences with branding and marketing. When it came to delivering content to my new clients who have conscious customers:

  • My designs lacked cohesion and heart.
  • My copy lacked soul and art. 
  • My efforts lacked the essential touch of genuine experience.

See, in corporate marketing, you can follow a system.. A schedule. You can strategize and succeed with a fair amount of ease and even arrogance.

However, in social conscious marketing, you have to follow the needs and triggered emotions of your ideal customers. You may have to be vulnerable. You may have to be authentic. You may have to be mindful. 

You have to be what THEY need. 

You cannot be what you THINK they want and expect results. 

In 2020, I was grateful for having the opportunity to keep a job after the pandemic. In 2021, I am grateful to my clients for making me work for my experience and my wins.

Working for my experience and wins meant,

  • Doing more research to understand my client and their (our) customers
  • Designing from my heart and sharing what I believed was right for the audience
  • Writing a ton of copy that would never be used just to get the tone of voice right 
  • Asking more questions
  • Digging deeper into analytics
  • Posting in real-time to meet real-time needs

This year, I’ve had more tough conversations with clients than I had in my past ten years as a traditional marketer. 

These conversations were the best things I could have experienced in my evolution as a marketer. 

The world around us is changing. Is your business model keeping up? Is your marketing evolving to truly meet the needs of your audience?

Are you evolving?

I am.

Kema Hodge


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