For 19 years of my career I worked in Higher Education in the Admissions and Recruitment fields. The last six years before I worked for myself, my role focused on marketing and I found my calling. I am an absolute junkie for marketing: how things are said, platforms for delivery, examples (good and bad), what engages audiences, photo choice, word choice, subject lines, social media, and on and on.
I am a storyteller. I tell stories in ways that connect people and make them want to buy something. For the most part, I sell a college education or the higher ed experience, however, I also work with a number of small businesses such as a Mary Kay sales director and a film company.
For the past two years, I’ve worked as an independent consultant. Sometimes I get work (such as copywriting) through an industry vendor (a company that sells their marketing services to universities or businesses), but mostly, I work with connections I have developed over the years at various universities and companies around the country. I try to work 10-20 hours a week and focus the rest of my time on our family. I love being a part-time marketer and a full-time mom.
A Day in the Life of a Marketing Consultant.
7 a.m. Our family gets up. Three boys get ready for school (ages: 11, 9, 6). Simon, our 3-year-old, also gets ready for his day. We eat breakfast, get dressed, and organize all the details.
8 a.m. School starts. Typically this was someone picking my kids up to go to school (except for Simon who stayed with me unless he was at Grandma’s or daycare for the day). Now, they get their screens ready and start e-learning. Simon has a project or plays.
10 a.m. 30-60 minute check-in call with Admissions Operations Director at a University in New Orleans. Prior to the call, I make sure all the kids know I have an important call and they need to take care of themselves. Often, this means Simon gets to watch a show (probably PJ Mask or Hello Ninja). I make sure they have snacks if needed, and they know I am mostly unavailable.
My role for the call/meeting: keep the communication delivery on track and make sure the university admissions office is sending the critical emails on time. I also provide industry perspective and new ideas.
- delivery of an email campaign of 11 emails to juniors in high school which I had written previously.
- the meeting we had with the vendor about delivering the 4 postcards that go with the email campaign. A freelance designer had developed the postcards based on the written copy I provided and after a couple back and forth reviews, we finally got what we hoped from the designer.
- the University’s need for new photography as the same photos keep being used for the same messages. Repetition isn’t always bad, but some of the photos feel a bit stale.
- follow up on emails we have scheduled for senior students about to commit to enroll at the University.
- workload and setting priorities. I also serve as a sounding board for frustrations and brainstorming. We map out the needs and support she requires to produce the best work for the week.
The call ends up taking longer than expected and I follow up on some email copy she asked me to review for the high school seniors. They have given me access to their email delivery software so I can make edits directly to the emails.
11:30 a.m. We eat lunch. Then, we play and do some “jobs” around the house.
12:15 p.m. I get a text from a University asking for my help with an email subject line. I text back and plan to respond before putting Simon down for a nap
1:30 p.m. The other boys have all identified what they will do during rest time (usually reading, Puzzle Buzz, draw, play chess, work on their typing skills, or play outside).
I take Simon to lay down for his nap. As he settles down on his bunk, I scroll through a few industry Facebook groups: HigherEd Social Media, College Admissions Counselors, HigherEd Entrepreneurs. I read the highlights from The Chronicle of Higher Education e-newsletter. Simon is ready to fall asleep and I snuggle up with him and rest myself. This snuggle “siesta” is one of my favorite parts of the day.
2 p.m. I return to my desk. I go through receipts and log any mileage or expenses that I accumulated this week. I make my to-do lists and reply to an email from a former co-worker. I forward a screen-shot of a great social media marketing idea to three clients.
3:30 p.m. Time flies as kids need attention and dinner needs to be planned. Charles (our 11-year-old) is making his favorite: chicken pot pie. I help him get that together and clean up and we put it in the oven about 4:30. I decide to sneak in a run and then shower. We play outside and do things around the house.
6 p.m. We eat chicken pot pie and salad. The boys want popsicles for dessert.
8 p.m. After baths/showers and books. The kids head to bed.
Our goal is:
- 3- and 6-year-olds: 7:30 p.m. bedtime routine (books, brush teeth, etc) and 8 p.m. lights off
- 9-year-old: 8 p.m. in bed, 8:30 p.m. lights off
- 11-year-old: 8:30 p.m. in bed, 9:00 p.m. lights off
I usually lay with each kid for a bit. There are times when I know I have work to do and I find myself trying to rush this time or I skip it altogether and have Dad do it by himself. However, usually, I spend time talking and listening to each boy before bed. It’s one of the most important things I can do with my time.
9 p.m. I go back to my desk and focus on rewriting some copy for the film company I work with. They are launching a new contest for youth to submit short films to win prizes and their website language is really wordy and complicated. So, I spend time cutting words, rearranging, and using language that is easier to read. Then, I write emails for three different audiences selling the contest. Much of the meat of the copy is similar but the hooks and subject lines are different for teachers, parents, and students.
When I provide copy, I often use a Google Doc. This is the easiest way to share text and make edits. I can also track edits and refer to previous versions if needed.
11 p.m. I realize I’ve been working quite a while and still am hoping to submit an invoice to a University I work with. I type that up, verify the correct info is on the invoice, and send it off even though it’s 11:17 p.m. I update my to-do list and try to head to bed before midnight. I also acknowledge that tomorrow night I am planning to spend time with my husband instead of working late.
If my kids aren’t at home I can go down a rabbit hole of industry statistics and marketing examples. I can read hours of reports and comb through websites, brochures, and handouts. I love finding great higher ed and small business social media to follow. Sometimes if I have extra time I call colleagues in the industry just to “talk shop.” It’s probably the one thing I miss the most about not being in an office, however, I love that my current role puts me in contact with many more people from across the country. It’s a great gig. I love what I do.
I also love that it works with my family. The extra time I have with our boys and for planning our family adventures, not to mention the luck of being at home during social distancing, is remarkable. I am very blessed.