This is one of my favorite articles because I’m all about getting more done with less, the power of leverage. (Side note: Leverage is also one of the main teachings of my favorite author in the world, Robert Kiyosaki.) If you haven’t realized it already, time is your most valuable resource, far more valuable than money or anything else. With enough time, you can do anything. To that end, I’m always looking for ways to gain more leverage and growth, while saving time. Today, I’m going to talk all about longevity and its effect in putting your PPC career into overdrive, all while giving you huge time leverage.
Longevity Will Accelerate Your Pay Per Click Career
I’ll cut right to the point. While it’s simple, the power is very understated. Let’s say you’re at a company with three pay per click campaign associates and a team lead managing all of you. You’re not the team lead, but are one of the three campaign associates. You want to be the team lead one day, but everything seems daunting because you’re competing with three other people and your boss already has the position you’d like with no signs of going anywhere fast. Seem familiar? From my experience, this situation is very common!
Now, let me get right to the point: Attrition is rampant in PPC. I’ve seen teams of 10 go down to 1. I’m not kidding, I lived it! PPC houses some of the brightest people in the world. They’re great at keeping their cards close and playing the game, right to the very last minute. You never know they’re interviewing or thinking of leaving, but then, all of the sudden, everyone is gone! In the story above, I mentioned that things seem “daunting” for the associate looking to become the team lead. However, let’s reframe that: This case is never daunting in pay per click for the simple fact that attrition is rampant.
My thesis: If you’re at an early stage in your SEM career (not managing people), longevity is your single highest leverage point. Seriously! If you’re an associate and want to end up leading the team, all you need to do is stick around! It may take a long time, possibly two to three years, but it will happen. Eventually, everyone will end up leaving the team or even company. It’s sad to see your teammates leave and I hate it. My personal charter as a people manager is to never lose an employee. If I do, I’m not doing my job correctly. However, with most managers, attrition in PPC is a real issue, one that can put you in the position of team lead much faster than hopping around to different companies. Hopping does have its place when it strategically makes sense, but I highly urge you to stick around if you’re early in your career and not yet managing the team. Once you’re managing the team, you’ll have far more opportunities to transition to a more favorable company and career, if that makes sense.
Pay Per Click Is A Core Operational Competency
Let’s look at the theory behind it form the company’s perspective. Often times, pay per click is the highest revenue per employee division in the company. The team is driving millions and millions of dollars of revenue (and margin), but there are only a handful of employees on the team. Now, let’s say everyone leaves except one employee. That’s a true risk for the company and a case that every people manager dreads. You never want such a large portion of your revenue hinged on just one (or a few) remaining employees. So, what does the company do? They quickly put the remaining person in a position of power. They allow them to take on more responsibility. If they prove that they can grow and handle the added responsibility, they are promoted and rewarded over time. In parallel, the company starts interviewing and hiring replacements. Who’s going to train all of the replacements? The person who’s left! Not only are you now taking on more responsibility, but you’re functioning as a first level manager, training and grooming the new SEM team. Moreover, you’re most likely now reporting to a VP or even C-level executive, yet another super opportunity to accelerate your growth path.
Let’s Keep Everything In Perspective
Now, let me take a step back. Nothing happens overnight. This if for very good reason. If you get promoted officially before you’re ready, it’s very risky for your career, your manager’s career, and the overall company. It’s very bad! You will get more responsibility overnight if you’re in this position, but it will take a bit more time to get promoted on paper. You need to function consistently and predictably at the higher level to prove to your manager and company that you’re ready to get promoted. This is better for everyone, trust me!
Work Through The Difficult Times In SEM
I hope this article helps give you a little extra incentive to stick it out when times get rough. Whether you’re in PPC or engineering, a startup or a publicly traded company, at the associate level or CEO level, there are always challenges. There are always times when you start questioning your ability to make it through. My suggestion to you (especially if you’re newer in your career): Stick it out. You will build character, strength, and judgment. The amount you learn will be tremendous. Moreover, people who might not have your perspective will leave. They won’t have what it takes to make it. When they do, an opportunity opens to grow your career rapidly. Again, I hate to see people leave, but that’s a fact of life. With a little bit of passion, you’ll be able to stick out the difficult times and emerge from it as a true industry leader. This, in my opinion, is the single easiest path to grow from associate to pay per click director in five years.
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Free Classifieds Blog says
Ian, as you have contacts in the PPC departments of the corporate World, you should open a job board for corporate PPC related jobs. Extra income for you and opportunities for others.
Eric | My 4-Hour Workweek says
As I’ve been toying with PPC, just learning the ropes, I’ve never thought of it as an actual career that people have within companies. Obviously I’ve know it in the back of my mind, but I haven’t consciously thought about it.
Ian – What are the common backgrounds that lead to a PPC career? Is it possible to enter the field from a completely different career path (e.g. finance or accounting)?
Dino Vedo says
PPC is awesome and never thought people actually worked on teams managing campaigns. Always thought it was a one man army, or most of the time anyways.
Free Classifieds Blog,
You bring up an excellent idea! Thanks for the suggestion. It is something I have been pondering and hoping to execute upon at some point.
All the best,
Thanks so much for your comment and question! This is an excellent question and really one of the core reasons I created this blog – to inform smart people out there that the PPC career path is a solid option for them. In terms of backgrounds, they tend to be highly varied because PPC really is a diverse role that involves so much: business savvy, ownership over numbers, ability to get you hands dirty, great understanding of linguistics, common sense marketing, advanced math and statistics, product management, people management, and so much more. That said, the folks I’ve seen really grow fast in this industry tend to have one of the following backgrounds: engineering, economics, finance, or business. My personal background is on the computer science front. I guess what I’m saying is one in the finance or accounting world, such as yourself, is an ideal candidate for the PPC career path! Thanks again!
All the best,
You bring up a super point and very much appreciate it! One of the core reasons I created PPC Ian is to share with smart people out there that PPC Is a real career path. I never even knew what PPC was until I started working at my first gig back in 2004 after graduating Stanford. Since then, I’ve been working on (and eventually managing) large teams at a variety of companies. It’s a fun and rewarding career path for sure and highly recommend it. If you or anyone you know is ever interested in entering the corporate PPC field, I’m here to help and hope my blog provides some helpful information!
All the best,
Profit Addiction says
Ian, I have been saying for awhile now that diversification brings stability and stability brings longevity in a business. Without both, it truly will be a struggle to have long-term success.
Great post 🙂