Alexandra Marshall: Digital Marketer & President, SEO.com: “Your Mindset Is What Will Make or Break Your Success”
Alexandra Marshall is a digital marketer and the President of SEO.com, a marketing firm that has created campaigns for brands like Dell, Mary Kay, and Mrs. Fields. She got her start in marketing at the age of 18 when she was hired on the spot for a role at Whole Foods – with no college degree.
Alexandra’s Original Story: “Your Mindset Is What Will Make or Break Your Success”
After a couple of years in the marketing industry, I started my own digital marketing agency, Free Spirit Press. For the first few years, I focused on building a portfolio of websites I had designed and done digital marketing for. After a few years of doing this by myself and steadily gaining traction, I was ready to build a team, but instead, one of my clients hired me full-time at his agency, SEO.com, to mimic the success I had with my clients.
I started reorganizing the team, and over the course of a year, have taken it from being in the negative, to profitable. I currently manage this team of 14, who have over 100 years of experience in the digital marketing industry together.
Family plays a huge role in my life, so my upbringing affected me quite a lot. My parents were complete opposites, so I feel I got a balanced perspective through the both of them. From my mother, I learned to treat others how I wanted to be treated, and from my father, I learned to excel in everything I set my sights on doing. These things make up the core of my philosophy as a service provider and team leader. As long as you truly aim for excellence, and treat those around you the way you wish to be treated (which obviously means well), then I’m sure you’ll succeed in whatever you put your mind to.
The moment I knew that I love what I do was when I realized I was solving problems my clients found to be an enormous pain. These problems directly affected their business, which therefore impacted their livelihood. They had a lot at stake, and the success of their marketing efforts meant a lot to them. When my clients received their new website, or looked at the data after launching email marketing campaigns, their overwhelmingly positive reactions and feedback to my work made my heart soar.
What I loved about my work evolved as I changed roles, since I realized I could make a greater impact at scale through working with a team. The feeling multiplied when I found that each team member experienced this joy with their clients again just through instituting a new set of streamlined processes.
I believe that I was able to find my dream career through a combination of being in the right place at the right time, being determined to strive for excellence in all I do, and being ready to accept new opportunities and challenges. Since I had already worked for a few years throughout high school, as soon as I could get a “real” job at the age of 18, I went for it. A Whole Foods Market was opening up near my house, and since I loved healthy eating, I figured I would show up to their hiring event. It turned out that they were hiring for a unique position in marketing and administration, which I decided to interview for, and was hired on the spot. I always went the extra mile to learn new skills and listen to others, and eventually I became equipped with enough valuable talents to start my own venture.
I skipped the degree, and am glad that I did. Others my age have only recently started their careers and are saddled with debt that will take years to repay. Unless your profession requires it, I would suggest building up hands-on experience in the industry you want to pursue. When hiring, having experience and the right attitude is much more important to me than the candidate having a degree.
The biggest challenge I have encountered so far is balancing all aspects of your business at the same time, particularly when you are just starting out as a freelancer. Later on, as a team leader, it is easier, since you can rely on your team members for support. My advice is that if you go in the direction of freelancing, then make sure you treat your craft like a business – make sure you create SOPs, a list of best practices, be prepared with contracts, have a solid plan for lead generation, and so on… All while becoming a master at your craft. If you want to manage a team one day, it helps to experience each role within the organization first, and then delegate from there.
I’d argue that your mindset is what will truly make or break your success. No matter how much experience you build up, or what degree you have, if you don’t have a pleasant demeanor, you won’t be given a chance by others. So, while you need to focus on experience and education, make sure to develop your interpersonal skills as well.