So much of success comes from just getting started somewhere. Sierra Mendonsa shares how being passionate to continually learn has been the key to her journey. Just a little over a year ago Sierra started as an intern, looking for more experience. Now she is the Director of Online Ads for Big Red Jelly helping over 25 clients fine-tune their digital marketing strategies.
Involved in many projects at Big Red Jelly including graphic design, social media, and online ads, Sierra shares how it’s not just her degree in Digital Marketing that has gotten her to where she is now. Keep reading as she explains how to be successful no matter what industry you’re in.
Q1: Tell me about your journey going from an intern to director of online ads in just 1 year.
A: So when I started my internship I didn’t have any experience doing online ads at all, but I was interested in it. I wanted to get as much experience in all the areas that I possibly could. So one day I asked the girl that had my position before if I could learn how to do some ads and I really enjoyed it. When she was leaving she talked to Josh and said, “I think Sierra would do really well.” Then we spent the next couple of weeks training.
Since then we’ve grown so much. When I first started we were just doing Facebook ads. Since then we’ve grown. We’ve changed our processes. I built out the Google Ads service that we now offer to our clients, as well as the LinkedIn lead generation which is a more organic approach to advertising. So it’s been fun to see the progression. So much has changed on Facebook and Google even since I started the position a year ago.
Q2: What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned on this journey?
A: I think it’s that you cannot get complacent. You always, always have to be forward-looking with what’s changing in the industry, and thinking outside the box because the issue with advertising is that people are used to being blasted by ads all day long. If you want to be successful you have to find a way to break through that noise and be different and show them that you really understand. You have to understand the customer: what they’re looking for, what their problems are, and what they want.
Q3: What do you like about digital marketing?
A: I think my favorite part about digital marketing is that every company and every industry needs it. I’m someone that can get bored easily doing the same thing for too long, so I like that in digital marketing I have the opportunity to work with so many different clients in so many different industries. There’s something new every day that I come into the office. I like the marketing side because it’s kind of like business psychology. It’s really just understanding people and why they buy the things they buy. I like the digital aspect because I really think that’s the way the world is moving. That’s where our attention is and it’s exciting. It’s also nice that you can do it all online from your home if you need to. Working remotely? That’s awesome.
Q4: What is a strategy that helps you stay focused?
A: Oh man, I’m a very big list person. So, I’ll write everything out for my week ahead of time. I’ve also learned that I need to set hard deadlines for myself. So a lot of times I will schedule a video call with a client before I’m even done and that’s my hard deadline, I have to get it done by that point. I also will schedule out time on my calendar, so from this hour to this hour, you are only doing this task. There’s a lot you have to juggle. I’m involved in a lot more than just online ads, though that is my main area.
Q5: What’s a hurdle you’ve overcome?
A: I think the biggest hurdle is the same as any business degree. You have to start somewhere, and it can be hard! Most jobs don’t want to hire you without having experience. So I think that Big Red Jelly helped me overcome that hurdle. It not only gave me that experience but also let me experiment with all the different areas of digital marketing. So now I’m pretty well rounded in all aspects of digital marketing and I’ve got great experience on my resume working with real clients and getting real results.
Q6: Who do you think has influenced you the most when it comes to how you approach your work?
A: I definitely think Josh has. He’s awesome because he lets you do things the way that you want to do, but he also is there to answer any questions that you have and can give advice. Josh is really good with handling clients and making sure they’re happy. He’s also great at reminding you to keep things as simple as possible and you don’t waste time on little unnecessary tasks. So I think that having Josh as a mentor and a boss, as we’re building out these new processes, has influenced the way that I attack new projects and manage my time in the office.
Q7: What is one thing that has made you successful?
A: I just want to know everything about everything. I love learning. I was willing to ask for new experiences and responsibilities, even though they were outside my designated duties, simply because I wanted to learn. There are so many resources out there, especially for digital marketing. Free classes or videos and often you can get certifications for them too. So be proactive and learn as much as you possibly can, about as many areas as you can, because there’s so much overlap and being well rounded is going to help you out so much. Having that understanding of how everything works together is going to help you perform better in your area.
Q8: What is the best advice you’ve ever taken?
A: There’s two things that come to mind. The first is that if you’re ever getting overwhelmed with how many things you need to do, instead of stressing, just get started. Start with one little task and once you get going it’s so much easier to get into a rhythm. Just open up the computer and start on the first task you see. Then before you know it, a few hours have gone by, and you’ve gotten a lot done.
I think the second goes hand in hand with that. Always look for ways that you can automate or simplify what you’re doing. One of the things I’ve done at Big Red Jelly is take the tasks that I’m doing repetitively and find ways to simplify them. For example, Zapier is a tool that we use a lot at Big Red Jelly. That has saved us so much time because it allows you to connect so many different things like Facebook ads, Google Sheets, sending emails and so much more. It allows you to automate a lot of those processes. On top of automating, find ways to simplify what you’re doing down to the essentials. So, keep it simple and avoid unnecessary work and just get started.
Q9: When you’re faced with a creative block how do you keep innovating?
A: When I have a block I look at the competition and I see what everybody else is doing. And I’m competitive so that motivates me to find a way to do it even better than they are.
Q10: How do you prevent burnout?
I think, for me personally, by making sure that I can switch my tasks up. Since I am involved in a lot of different areas, social media, design, and online advertising, I can break up those tasks. I can say, “Okay, I’m going to do design. All right, now I’m going to focus on social media for a little bit because I need to break through this. Okay, now I’m going to do my online ads.” Just finding ways to break up your tasks really helps so that they don’t become mundane. That’s my biggest advice.
Also, it’s okay to take breaks. If you are not being productive, that’s okay to take a little break to grab lunch or a drink, or something to get away for a bit and let yourself refocus. I think that’s one thing that I had a hard time with and still do. Sometimes you feel like you have so much to do that you don’t have time to stop. But you unfortunately can’t operate at 100%, 100% of the time so it’s okay to take a break and refocus.
Q11: What inspires you in what you’re creating?
A: There’s a lot of creators out there that I’m following on social media or I subscribe to their email lists. I always keep an eye out for what other people are doing. Then anytime I see social media posts or designs that I like I screenshot it and make little notes about the elements I liked and ask myself “How can I tailor that to fit my needs? How can I do it even better than they did?”
Q12: What is one of the experiences that helped you grow the most?
A: There are two things that I can say. The first is that I’m the kind of person that likes to research and have all my questions answered before I get started. It can be scary when you don’t feel like you know what you’re doing, but I think that Big Red Jelly has helped me overcome that. When I first started they threw me in the deep end and watched how I handled it. But I learned so much by just jumping in.
The other experience that has helped me grow comes from those times that we didn’t perform as well as we had hoped for a client. As sad as we were to lose them, it helped us to regroup and say, “Okay, what was the problem? Why was this client unhappy? What do we need to do better next time?” We are able to take that feedback and hone in our processes to make sure that we can give all future clients the service they want and deserve.
Q13: What are you learning now and why is that important?
A: One thing I’ve personally been looking into is video and what makes “good content”. Videos overwhelmingly have the highest engagement and many prefer them. I was actually reading an article the other day that said Facebook timelines have changed so much. They’ve cut out a lot of the regular posts and are prioritizing videos. People spend more time on the app if they are watching videos rather than quickly scrolling through images or captions. These platforms want you to spend as much time as possible on their app so it makes sense that they would show you videos more. Because of the importance of video, that is actually a new service that we are currently working to bring to Big Red Jelly.