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What Really Is Performance Marketing?

When I first started to learn about careers in Digital Marketing a few months ago, I came across various definitions of Performance Marketing. And most of those definitions implied that Performance Marketing was all about generating clicks, leads and sales using paid channels. But thanks to the Digital Media Marketing course at George Brown College, I had a chance to learn firsthand about Performance Marketing from someone who is a Performance Marketing Manager.

I want to share with you my thoughts and experience attending this virtual seminar. And believe me, Performance marketing is not what Google says. It’s a lot more!

Paul Michel – Career Background

Paul Michel

Last week, my classmates and I had the opportunity to have Paul Michel as a keynote speaker in the Marketing Seminar series. Paul is a Performance Marketing Manager at Harry Rosen. He started his career in marketing as an intern at BlackBerry and then at General Motors Canada. His first job was at The Aber group as a Digital Media Intern, then progressed to Account Coordinator to Account Strategist and then Account Manager. After that, he switched from the agency side to the client side at Harry Rosen, one of Canada’s leading menswear retailers.

Interestingly, Paul mentioned that working at a marketing agency helped him understand how the digital marketing platform works. At the agency, he experienced different ways of working with various clients, allowing him to grow as an all-rounded marketer. At that very moment, I decided that I will start my marketing career as an intern at an agency. Funny, but soon I changed my mind when he described the working environment of the agency.

Agency side vs. Client side

Paul mentioned that you could only do so much in an agency environment, from getting a client brief to the execution. In other words, you cannot have control over the entire campaign. But, on the other hand, working on the client side allows you to shape the campaign and the marketing strategy while considering the real essence of executing the digital strategy. And, as someone who has been an eCommerce business owner for few years, I value ‘control’ over projects. Hence, it gives me a feeling that agency may not be the right place for me to thrive.

Beyond Digital To Performance Marketing

Understanding Performance Marketing

Paul clearly stated that Digital Marketing is only a channel, just like print marketing or telemarketing, to which I completely agree. A customer would interact with the brand through various channels, whether email, online, in-store or even word of mouth. And so, a digital marketer should have a comprehensive view of the business and the customer and work with other groups to bring company-wide initiatives. That’s what Performance Marketing is all about. It encompasses all the aspects of Digital Marketing with an Omni-channel focus.

"The role of the Digital Marketer needs to evolve beyond a single channel focus to a more integrated & holistic view."

The Performance Marketing Manager is involved in setting up campaigns, engaging with strategy, journey mapping, segmentation and loyalty, planning media, working with the creative team, working with the social media team, and even budgeting.

I was really interested in learning about the day in a life of a Performance Marketing Manager. Paul explained that this role is dynamic, and what you do depends on the season and time of the year. Depending on the current business situation and future events, he would spend his day planning for the season, promotion, messages, budget, reviewing ad copy and search keywords. But daily, he would not miss checking Google Analytics, Facebook Ads, Google Ads and real-time sales to keep an eye on sales and channel performance and understand how the ads are performing. I can very much relate to the day in Paul’s life as to what I have been doing and currently do in my eCommerce business. It is something that I love to do.

Being Performance Marketing Manager at Harry Rosen

Harry Rosen Logo

Paul walked us through his experience of working as a Performance Marketing Manager at Harry Rosen. He described how he enjoys working at Harry Rosen and how he and his team overcame the business challenges of the pandemic. Customers generally think of Harry Rosen as a place to buy only tailored clothing and suits. And so, it could be challenging for such a business to survive during the pandemic. But, Paul and his team took up the challenge to shift the focus to people thinking about other company offerings and not just the suits.

Paul had been kind enough to share with us the entire digital media journey at Harry Rosen and the milestones that he went through throughout this journey in his year’s career at the company, which was terrific. We got the chance to learn how the business pivoted from being known for its formal wear to include casuals. Paul shared his journey, starting from learning about the customer to testing and optimizing media mix to executing the campaign.

Learning about re-establishing the brand identity, positioning, marketing strategy, and tactics implemented to achieve the business objective during the pandemic was honestly a fantastic experience.

As Harry Rosen moved from working with an agency to an in-house marketing department, Paul also discussed its downsides. While working in-house can save you dollars and have your job done faster, you miss out on the insights that an agency could provide. And so, as a Performance Marketing Manager, you need to make sure that you and your team stay up-to-date with the current trends by reading, talking to peers, networking, and attending seminars.

Summing It Up

Overall, the two-hour seminar with Paul Michel was packed with a great learning experience with discussion around digital strategy, paid ads, market segmentation, KPIs, retail eCommerce, and networking.

During the case study group discussion, my team and I also came up with some innovative strategies and recommendations as to how we would handle the marketing of Harry Rosen if we were in the shoes of Paul. 

Paul also emphasized the importance of networking, not just during job hunting but also while you work in the industry. I am glad to have attended the seminar. After listening to Paul, I feel that I can succeed in this kind of role and will definitely consider working as a Performance Marketing Manager for an eCommerce brand.

I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts and experience on the seminar and get some insights about what it is like to work as a Performance Marketing Manager. What do you think about a career in this field? Share in the comments section below.

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