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Joi Brooks, freelancing with such brands as Rutgers University, Medical City Plano, Personal Trainer Foods and GenCanna, had every intention of continuing her bachelor’s degree, getting a masters and becoming an archaeologist. However, she had a huge obstacle in her way: fear.
Joi’s parents believed education overseas was more of a risk than an opportunity. In retrospect, Joi realized, when she was making decisions about education and her early career opportunities, she hadn’t yet discovered the fine art of networking or developed mentor relationships. (She’s since fixed that.)
Instead of achieving the education of her dreams, Joi launched her “nine-to-five” career in New York City, starting in the finance department of an international import-export company, ITOCHU Corporation. Throughout her career, Joi’s jobs led to interesting forks in the road and down the paths she walks today.
With experience in finance, Joi had a noteworthy career at NBC, starting in the entertainment finance department. The offices were directly next to the programming and production departments, and Joi networked her way to eventually explore the entertainment industry at several different vantage points. Ultimately, she was offered a unique opportunity to administer computer networking systems for the Olympic NBC tech team.Computers, logic and applications completely fascinated Joi, and she began to craft a career in IT support, specifically networking systems, publishing and graphic software applications. When the lure of working in the big city ran out of steam, Joi transitioned to a magazine publishing job closer to home. Magazine publishing led to book publishing and then to marketing where the implications were clear: the world was going digital.
Joi went back to university and graduated with a supplementary degree in computer applications. These studies introduced her to HTML, which she immediately deployed within an emerging discipline, now known as email marketing.
Joi uses Google, Slack, Skype, Facebook, Whatsapp,Twitter, LinkedIn, Zoom, GoTo and Google Meet to communicate with her team, clients and peers during the day. She has a desktop, a tablet and a mobile phone that she uses throughout the day for traditional communications, to run martech apps like G-Suite, Calendly, Email on Acid, Litmus, LucidChart, Click-up, Basecamp, Zapier connections and Google Analytics, and to log into the hundreds of email service providers or to create flow charts, share files, manage business intelligence or display data, collaborate with others and so on.
When time allows, Joi listens to industry podcasts or videos, and when inspired, she discusses the topic with a peer or connects with someone on the show’s panel via LinkedIn or Twitter.
Joi is part of a few networking groups that meet via Zoom sessions, most of them scheduled after work hours, so she sometimes attends via phone while walking her dogs. When everything settles down for the night, Joi is usually on the couch with her Kindle. She reads every chance she gets and admits to a passion for high fantasy-world-building novels.
For marketing teams working without sales support, Joi shares her story of working on email marketing campaigns for a B2B client. Sales rarely offered content and didn’t follow up on leads coming from the email campaigns. But then, the marketing director proposed an email template that sales had been using through Outlook. It was a cold email format, with the anticipated “Dear <firstname>” and a simple text sales message with a few small images at the bottom. The campaign performed phenomenally as part of an email marketing campaign, with phone calls coming in immediately after the campaign launched, numerous appointments set and conversions as the icing on the cake. And now, sales endorses email marketing 100%.
As a result of that experience, Joi offers the following reminders:
Get everyone out of the silo and bring their thoughts to the table
Turn possibilities into ideas and applications into solutions
Advocate best practices but be willing to take small risks
Never say never
Earlier in her career, Joi was part of a three-person marketing team: the marketing director, the marketing manager (Joi) and the marketing assistant. Joi managed a printed newsletter, prepared graphics, deployed email marketing and supported the director during events and other special projects.
One morning, Joi was called into the director’s office. The meeting began with light conversation and then the director asked Joi how she was getting along with the marketing assistant. Joi was personally fond of the assistant. They worked together with a productive rhythm, and Joi considered the assistant to be smart and proactive. Joi expressed her feelings to the director, and then there was an uncomfortable pause before the director noted that she wasn’t pleased with the assistant and felt that the team’s work was suffering on the assistant’s account.
The director asked Joi to write the assistant up, and Joi’s head began to spin. Joi reiterated her high opinion of the assistant and confided that she was uncomfortable with the marketing director’s request. When Joi said she wouldn’t be able to provide the director with the documentation requested, the director’s immediate response was, “You’re either with me or against me, here.”
One week later, Joi was let go. She was surprised, upset and confused, but Joi pushed forward. The assistant was a woman of color, and she remained employed by the company for a few more years while completing her bachelor’s degree. The assistant and Joi are still friends to this day.
Joi believes digital technology is the fourth industrial revolution. Artificial intelligence, the internet of things, three-dimensional printing, an app for almost anything and the ability to be anywhere on the planet and simultaneously connected is feeding a global workforce, international by nature. People, brands and agencies are marketing uniquely all to compete and survive, disrupting the status quo. In a way, marketing has become self-aware with a wide range of tools to promote and support itself.
“Disruptions are innovations spurred by events,” notes Joi. COVID-19 took a small company like Zoom and created a household name, with Zoom practically holding the entire world together for a period of time. Meanwhile, when the pandemic shut down restaurants, businesses like Grub-Hub, DoorDash, UberEats and ChowNow kept restaurants open and food deliveries safe.
Joi believes the future of martech will be focused on tools that connect people to the marketplace, deliver products or services, promote lucrative sales and build relationships, across numerous levels and models. Wherever and whenever there is a need to promote someone or thing, there will be (or already is) a nascent market of applications to support that niche.
Joi advocates networking and seeks groups with open door policies. She uses LinkedIn to connect with all types of professionals and begin relationships. And, she’s recently become the host of a small mastermind group composed of email marketing female professionals.Joi encourages anyone seriously interested in martech as a career to find communities and position themselves to learn and keep on learning.
Whatever the industry, Joi suggests you prepare for “a fair amount of challenges.” After all, she says, “You are competing with everyone, let alone men versus women.”
“If you want a family AND a career, this is part of who YOU are and where YOU’RE going,” says Joi. “It is not impossible to do both. You can make quite a lot out of any life when you learn when to say ‘no’ and what constitutes a ‘yes.’”
Joi encourages people to match their skills to their professions to find work that doesn’t interfere with their lifestyles. She also recommends using “as many tools as you can to balance your work and life.”
Joi also notes that everyone needs a support system, and she encourages people to network, find like-minded associates and develop these relationships over time.
Lastly, Joi tells people to recognize transferable skills, because, “at any point, you may find yourself at a fork in the road and need to make a leap of faith. Those transferable skills are yours for a lifetime. Own them. Advocate them. They will promote you.”
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