Career in Digital Marketing- an Expat Partner’s Tips on Getting Started.

Reenu Lodha works as a Digital Marketing Consultant with Progresif, a major Bruneian telecom company. She is a “digital marketing evangelist and an analytics junkie.”  

Originally from India, she began her career as an IT data consultant working with Fortune 500 clients such as Unilever and Applied Materials. Later, when she moved to the US, she transitioned and kickstarted her digital marketing career in Silicon Valley. In her digital marketing consultancy career, she has worked with Inc 500 start-ups and established US companies in industries such as online publishing, fitness, retail, oil and gas, digital services and ecommerce.

Three years ago, she landed in Brunei as an expat spouse without a work permit. She found that coffee mornings, parties and other social gatherings were not enough to keep her entrepreneurial spirit satiated. Using her international experience, she has since built a name for herself in Brunei locally (and beyond) as a Digital Marketing Consultant.

So What is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing allows companies to promote their brands, products or services on digital channels. As a digital marketer, you could work in areas as diverse as:

  • Blogging
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Email marketing
  • Graphic designing
  • Coding
  • Advertising
  • Digital analytics
  • Creating videos or animations
  • Social media marketing e.g. creating engagement via Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn.

Reenu: “Even becoming an influencer with your own YouTube channel or an Instagram account can be a way to digital marketing success.”

An Ideal Blend: Data Analytics and Creative Work

Reenu’s background is in engineering. However, digital marketing gave her the chance to leave the “monotonous world of tech consultancy” behind.

To her, the blend of data analytics and creative work that digital marketing provides is ideal. She says that understanding numbers is a real benefit for anyone wanting to succeed in this line of work. If marketing is not supported by analytics, she says the danger is that it may remain “fluff.”  

Reenu: “One of the biggest reasons clients prefer working with me is that I can interpret marketing data. I provide my clients with valuable actionable marketing data insights that are useful for them to understand their own customers. Data driven informed marketing efforts get them faster results. It lowers their costs considerably and my clients love it!”

5 Tips on How to Get Started in Digital Marketing on Your Own

Here Reenu shares 5 tips for getting started in digital marketing: 

Tip 1: Find Your Passion

Digital Marketing encompasses a host of disciplines and there are innumerable free resources floating on the internet. Hence, it is easy for beginners to feel overwhelmed.

“If two digital marketers meet, the conversation will continue for at least an hour.” Reenu laughs. “There is so much to exchange and learn in this ever-evolving field!” ­

In order to be successful, Reenu suggests:

  • begin with choosing an area that you feel really passionate about and specialize.
  • then keep learning and build a T-shaped marketer profile. That is the key to success!

Reenu mentions how even after seven years of digital marketing experience, she spends time on a weekly basis to take new courses, attend seminars and learn about the latest trends.

Tip 2: To Kickstart, Take Free Courses First. Don’t Buy Degrees or Certifications.

Reenu recommends free courses offered by Google Academy,  Hubspot Academy and Facebook Blueprint. These learning resources are great places for beginners to gauge their interest.

Reenu: “Buffer blog is the to-go place for the latest social media strategies and trends.”

If you’d like to build your career as a SEO specialist then SEO learning center by Moz and Search Engine’s Land to SEO are great resources to learn SEO tactics.

Canva tutorials can accelerate your ability to create amazing designs.

Pro Tip: Learning platforms like Coursera, Udemy and Lynda offer great free and paid courses as well. 

However, a word of caution here:

  • 5-star course ratings are not the ultimate criteria to decide which course to take.
    • Do your research on the course instructor before embarking on a course. Go through their online profiles and make sure they have the knowledge and credentials you are looking for.
  • Ask the instructor if the offered course was updated recently.
    • Digital marketing strategies change fast, and obsolete course material may not be worth your money.

Tip 3: Build Your Portfolio

Your portfolio is like a showcase CV, outlining all your experience in digital marketing, not just courses but also your assignments with real clients- ideally with raving testimonials from your clients. Put your newly acquired knowledge to practical use and start building your portfolio right away, says Reenu. Remember at this stage learning is the priority. Here is how you can learn fast and build your portfolio:

  • Learn directly from an expert digital marketing entrepreneur
    Volunteer as an apprentice for 3 months. Be honest that you want to learn and be sure to contribute wherever possible
  • Build your own online presence
    This can be in the form of an online business, website or even a YouTube channel. Be consistent with whatever you do – whether it is launching new products or posting new content.

  • Start by working with a digital marketing agency
    Agencies have an added benefit since these provide wider exposure to projects from multiple industries. You will end up learning industry jargon very quickly.

Tip 4: Choose Small Businesses as Your First Potential Clients

Numerous small businesses (such as restaurants, nail spas, fitness studios etc.) need digital marketing assistance but are short of funds. Hence, these are also more likely to provide you the first work opportunity.

Pitch your services for free or for a nominal fees to them and genuinely provide value. This will help you build your portfolio within a couple of months.

Reenu: “You will be delighted to see how small businesses can go an extra mile to make referrals and build networks for you!”

Tip 5. Get Out There. Genuinely Help.

“The first time I landed in Brunei, all I heard was how the country offered few opportunities. How no trailing expat spouse in the past had ever been successful in securing an exciting job. However, being highly energetic and ambitious, I could not sit at home.

One day I heard about the national startup incubator, DarE (Darussalaam Enterprise) and called their office to learn more. To my surprise, I was immediately invited to join as a mentor at the first DarE bootcamp. I love working with entrepreneurs and said yes.

I still remember driving three hours a day every week from Seria to Bandar, consulting growing startups and returning home at midnight.” Reenu says with a smile.

Digital Marketing in Brunei

“Three years down the line, I must say that I have found Brunei to be an amazing country. It is not easy to secure a job, but if you can demonstrate that you can add value, big businesses and organizations would love to work with you.

The country is undergoing a major digital transformation led by companies like Progresif that fuel innovation and national growth. There’s huge growth potential and I’m proud to be playing my role in enhancing the digital presence of Bruneian businesses. “

Thank you Reenu for your insights on Digital Marketing Careers!

If interested, you can connect with Reenu on LinkedIn here.


Other articles that may be of interest: 

8 Questions to ask yourself before starting an online study

50 Ideas to Create a New Career Abroad

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