So you’re interested in picking up digital marketing as a career. Well, is it worth it?

The pandemic and lockdown have caused people to realize the importance of digital marketing. With businesses forced to operate and get customers online, the demand for digital marketing seems to be growing faster than ever.

Maybe you saw an opportunity to go into digital marketing. There are three ways I usually see this pans out.

  • You start your own marketing agency to offer digital marketing services.
  • You apply to work at an agency that provides marketing services.
  • You apply to work as a marketer at a company or brand (client-side).

In this post, we’ll explore if a digital marketing career in Malaysia is for you. I’ll also share a few tips to help you maximize your potential as you break into a digital marketing career.

First, let’s define what digital marketing is.

What is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing is the act of reaching and connecting with potential customers using digital platforms. This mainly includes platforms that use the internet – from email, social media, search engines, websites, and more.

Some of the core subjects under digital marketing include:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Content Marketing
  • Copywriting
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Customer Journey Design a.k.a Funnel
  • Paid Advertising
  • Email Marketing
  • Web Analytics
  • Conversion Optimization
  • Programmatic Advertising
  • Affiliate Marketing

That’s quite a long list! Do you have to learn everything there to be a qualified digital marketer?

In a way, yes. We like to think that a digital marketer should have a broad understanding of the available marketing strategies and tools and strategies. And then specialize in some of them.

A jack of all trades, and master of some.

But above all, before you call yourself a digital marketer, you need to understand marketing. Yes – marketing.

What is marketing?

Marketing is often defined as the process of getting people interested in a product or service.

what-is-marketing

However, in the words of Seth Godin, we define marketing as the act of creating positive change in the people you seek to change. In simpler words, who are your product and service for? How does it create positive change for the people who buy them?

This is not woo-woo or just a feel-good statement. In fact, it’s the very core of being a marketer.

If what you promote does not bring positive value to your customer – your marketing won’t last, because it’s probably based on deceiving, hustling, and interrupting your customers.

How many times can you lie to a customer? Eventually, you’ll get caught.

As a digital marketer, you’re an agent of change. Marketing is then the act of identifying the people who need what you offer and then using the most effective way to reach them.

Am I suitable to be a digital marketer?

Being a marketer means you need logic + creativity magic. Marketers who only rely on numbers and logic, often miss out on opportunities to create ‘magic’.

Without going too deep, here are 5 key traits that I found to be most important, based on my years working in marketing.

1 – Problem-Solving Mindset

It doesn’t matter what you do in marketing – whether posting on social media or running paid ads. Digital marketers are people who face new problems every day.

Your website search rankings just dropped off Google’s page 1. Your ads are not converting enough leads. A recent giveaway campaign you ran backfired and now people are just hammering your Facebook page with negative comments.

Are you capable of staying calm, when everything around you is falling apart?

As a digital marketer, you need to be someone who jumps heads-first into problem-solving. When a marketing strategy doesn’t go as planned (it usually doesn’t), what are you going to do?

2 – Business Acumen

You’ll often find founders and business owners to be good marketers themselves. Well, digital marketers need to have strong business acumen, to tie what they do in marketing with the interest of the business.

While it’s important to understand the best business practices and the way a business operates, having good business acumen is also about being far-sighted.

For example, let’s say you market and sell coffees. If a cup of coffee brings in a revenue of RM5, the short-sighted marketer would never think beyond spending more than RM5 to acquire a customer.

A far-sighted marketer, on the other hand, would be ready to spend up to RM50 to acquire a single customer because he understands that a typical customer is going to come back and buy more coffees over the time, eventually bringing profit for the business.

Read more: Digital marketing metrics you must learn now.

3 – Data & Analytics-Driven

Are you comfortable with data?

Like it or not, in marketing, you would need to constantly derive insights from data.

Doing content marketing? Well, which content is performing best? How many users have found your content via search engines VS emails? What should our next marketing effort be focused on?

Part of being a digital marketer is the ability to ask good questions like a data scientist, being able to compile data and analyze them for insights.

It’s also important to recognize the different types of data when doing analytics. For example, good digital marketers don’t just look at quantitative data (data in counts or numbers), but also at qualitative data (data describing qualities or characteristics).

Watch the video below to learn the difference between quantitative & qualitative data: 

4 – Communication Skills

Working in marketing means communicating a message or offer to your targeted customers. Why should people trust or buy from you?

Communication covers skillsets like messaging, copywriting, and storytelling. Whether you are writing an email, building a landing page, creating a video, or designing a social media post – you must be able to communicate the brand and product story to engage customers on an emotional level.

People buy on emotions and justifies them with logic.

So a good marketer is an expert communicator who understands the pain, fears, hopes, and dreams (PFHD) of their customers.

5 – Empathy

Marketers are seen as selfish when they focus only on themselves. Me, me, me.

As we’ve discussed, marketing is about understanding and providing value to people.

Let me give you a quick example of something that you can instantly change today, in a move to have more empathy.

Have you ever visited a website where every page seems to just shout “me, me & me?”. Here’s an example:

“We have won 5 awards and have been mentioned on the news & media. About us – we’re a highly capable team working to achieve success! To date, we have worked on over 1,000 projects and drank over 20,000 cups of coffee!”

website-counter
This sort of stuff on websites makes me question them.

The truth is your customers don’t care about you and your achievements.

Sure, having achievements on your website might portray you as an accomplished business. But above that, your customers want to know how you can help them!

This is why a digital marketer needs strong empathy. To realize that their message and positioning should be focused on how they can help their customers, not on themselves.

How much can I make as a digital marketer in Malaysia?

Having gone through the traits of a digital marketer, the next question you probably have is whether digital marketers make a good salary in Malaysia.

According to Indeed, an entry-level digital marketer makes an average of RM2,834 per month in Malaysia.

digital-marketing-salary-malaysia

Wait, what? Is that the potential of digital marketers?

That doesn’t seem too attractive, given the growing cost of living in Malaysia. According to iPrice (see below), the cost of living for a single person in Kuala Lumpur is estimated at RM3,300.

Do digital marketers even eat?

Data shows average cost of living in KL is RM3,300 monthly

Let’s look at a bigger marketing role, say, director of marketing. On Indeed, we see the average base salary for a director of marketing in Malaysia at an average of RM7,701 per month.

director-of-marketing-salary

Okay, much better. But still, is this all there is for marketers?

How to get a higher salary as a digital marketer.

First, understand that the titles of marketing jobs around the world, let alone in Malaysia, can be vague.

Your job title could say ‘growth marketer’, ‘digital marketing specialist’, or ‘digital marketing manager’. And yet the key activities you do every day could be the same.

Some startups even try to differentiate their roles by coming out with weird marketing titles, like – ‘marketing ninja’, ‘lead strategist’, and ‘marketing rockstar’.

In marketing, your job title is simply just that – a title.

What I’m trying to point out, is that a marketing career is one made out of solving problems. Put simply, the bigger the marketing problems you can solve, the bigger the salary you’ll be able to receive. It’s not advisable to gauge your salary potential as a marketer based on the data you see on job hiring portals.

Let me explain and share a tip.

You must always negotiate your salary.

The best thing you can do when you apply for a digital marketing job is to negotiate your salary. Don’t just accept the salary that is offered to you. And definitely don’t walk into an interview with just a resume.

This means having to know your worth and value.

Imagine going into a hospital and telling the doctor “I read that a surgery is RM1000”. Absolutely crazy. In the same way, never let a company tell you what you’re worth.

See, all companies are interested in, is your ability to help grow their revenue. As marketers, we are problem-solvers. During an interview, explain the marketing problems a company is facing and show them a marketing plan that fixes it.

Be a problem solver!

If you can generate a 1 million revenue for a company, do you think it’s unfair to ask for a RM15,000 per month salary? Heck, you should be valued more!

Here are some quick tips for negotiating your salary: 

  • Bring in a marketing plan during your job interview.
  • Ask questions. Find ways to solve them.
  • Use this script: “Based on the value I bring, I believe a fair compensation would be RMXXX…”

Here’s an actual screenshot of me asking for a salary grade I felt I was worth, some years back.

hiring

In the example above, I was chatting directly with the founder of the company. Whether you are being interviewed in person, by email, or through a video call, it’s the same. Start by displaying the value you bring, then ask for a fair compensation.

And I plan to work for myself.

OK – what if you plan to work for yourself? Is digital marketing still a viable career if you plan to become a freelancer or to start a digital marketing agency?

I’ll be upfront with you. Digital marketing, whether as a freelancer or agency, can be an extremely profitable venture – but only if you know how to position yourself.

Fresh digital marketers often excitedly go into the market and start offering their work as a ‘service’. Here’s an example I saw online (it’s an agency offering social media marketing services):

pricing-marketing-services
This is absolutely the worst way to price your marketing services.

What’s the problem with pricing this way?

The problem is positioning yourself as a service provider. That immediately puts you into a red ocean market, with thousands of other freelancers and agencies, competing and undercutting each other by offering lower and lower prices. It’s a race to the bottom.

Another reason why the pricing above does not make sense – is because there is NO WAY, for that badly planned social media packages to fit different businesses with different needs. A small home-based tuition business maybe has an RM1500 social media problem. But a large multinational company would probably have an RM5 million social media problem. Are you going to charge the same rate for 3 photos and 3 videos?

Instead, position yourself as a problem solver. 

Get this. In the example above, the photos and videos, are simply deliverables.

But what’s the size of the problem you help solve for the company you work for? The small home-based tuition business and a multinational company have problems of different sizes.

Watch the video below to learn how to position yourself as a problem solver:

Do I need a digital marketing certificate?

Not necessarily. Having a digital marketing certificate doesn’t prove that you are a good marketer.

Sure, certifications are important for certain types of jobs. You don’t want a dentist without a certification working on your teeth. And you probably won’t hire a lawyer who learned to do law, watching YouTube videos.

But marketing is different. Having a certificate or resume doesn’t prove that you can do marketing. What speaks louder than a paper certificate or resume is the projects you’ve worked on.

Instead of a certificate, how about:

  • Having a project that can be seen by people interested to hire or work with you?
  • Having a reputation that precedes you.
  • Having a blog/website so insightful that they want to reach out to you.
  • Having a following of people looking to hear what you have to say.

So, is it worth pursuing a digital marketing career in Malaysia?

I’d say it is. As long as you position yourself as a problem solver, instead of a service provider.

Here are the key takeaways from this post: 

  1. A digital marketer is a ‘Jack of all trades and master of some’.
  2. Marketing is the act of creating positive change.
  3. The 5 traits of a digital marketer: Problem-solving, business acumen, analytical mind, communication, and empathy.
  4. Digital marketing certificates are overrated. Rather, have something to show for.
  5. Know your worth and always negotiate your salary.
  6. Position yourself as a problem-solver.

Are you planning to break into a digital marketing career? What is currently holding you back? Comment below and let’s discuss.

Want to learn digital marketing and apply it to your business? Check out Growth Marketing 360, a program at LEAD that has produced students who do marketing full-time.

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