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Career Advice for the Newly Unemployed

  |  February 18, 2009   |  Comments

Now's a good time to learn the nitty gritty of using HTML, designing an e-newsletter design, or maintaining a database. Here's why.

With the economy crashing and burning, many former marketing clients are contacting me to pick my brain about new directions they can take in their careers.

Simultaneously, a lot of midsize companies -- eager to keep their clients and expand their prospect lists -- are calling for help to create e-mail and e-newsletter campaigns. But they balk at my senior-level pricing -- and the fact that I offer only the creative direction and copywriting.

Within this, I see a need and a niche.

Clearly, the newly available marketing professionals from the Fortune 500 world can help out these midlevel companies. It's a win-win, but there's a catch.

Most midsize company executives view e-campaigns as something that only requires a shoestring budget. The prevailing notion seems to be that you can just jot off a few short articles, plug them into a template, hit "send," and wait for the revenue to come in.

It's a wee bit more complicated and expensive than that -- as any of us in the business know.

Even my own little e-newsletter for my fundraising practice called Giving Back, which is just one e-tip and a note, takes about five to seven hours a week to write, edit, proofread, flow into a template, and broadcast. While it only costs me about $100 a week in hourly fees for my assistant and Web guy, it also takes about three hours of my time at $200 an hour -- for about a total $600 weekly investment. That's not to mention the upfront time and expense it took to design the original template, create the newsletter archive on my Web site, and get the database in shape.

Now I know you're already doing the math and saying, "Wow, I could do that for way less." The fact is, you probably could do it for less with a lower priced writer, if you had an assistant who knew HTML -- or better yet, if you knew HTML yourself.

And that's the point. My suggestion for all the unemployed marketing professionals who directed strategy, but never had to learn all the nitty-gritty of HTML, or e-newsletter design, or maintaining a database -- learn those skills now while looking for the next job.

By creating a whole e-newsletter package to sell to midsize businesses for a reasonable fee (rather than bringing in a high-priced team), you have a really good crack at getting clients at midsize firms. And once you do a crackerjack job of creating a company's e-newsletter, there's a pretty good chance you'll also get to use your marketing skills on a wider range of projects -- such as creating direct marketing campaigns, Web banners, blogs, etc.

In time, you'll either have a really nice little business where you call the shots, or a whole new set of skills you can use in your next big corporate job.

Think of it as job training for the new economy. While my practice is holding steady and I'd much rather continue with the high-level creative strategy and messaging I've done for years, I may see you in HTML class some day. And in fact, I think I'd enjoy it!

What changes do you see coming to the B2B email world in the new economy? Share them with Karen.


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Karen Gedney

Karen Gedney, an award-winning creative director and copywriter, shared her insights as a ClickZ Experts contributor from 2000 through 2009. She was known for her successful track record of achieving high e-mail response rates for Fortune 1000 companies and leading organizations. She died Nov. 16, 2010.

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