General Assembly, Author at General Assembly Blog | Page 2

Keeping Our Learners on Track During COVID-19

By and

First, thank you for being a part of the General Assembly community. We want you to know that, as a community member, your health and well-being is our top priority. 

In light of COVID-19 developments, we have put in place precautionary measures to keep our community safe. As we all make sense of the evolving situation, General Assembly is guided by two priorities: ensuring safety and health while minimizing disruption to our learners.

Right now, like many education providers, we’re in the process of offering all of our workshops and courses remotely. The good news is, we’ve done this for thousands of people across all of our programs and know how to do it well. Our instructors and teams are laser-focused on maintaining a high-quality experience for our students. 

To learn more about our approach to online learning and best practices for remote classrooms, check out this video

Starting Monday, March 16, we will be moving all in-person programming online and temporarily closing our campus facilities. From here, we will continue to monitor the situation and update you on an ongoing basis. 

GA’s Singapore campus will remain open, and we have implemented safety measures in line with the guidance from Singapore’s Ministry of Health. We will be following updates closely, and will move to remote programming should the situation escalate.

We’ve sent specific instruction and guidance to all of our students and employer partners and leveraged the talents of our online instructional team to ensure a seamless transition to a remote learning environment. 

We’ll marshal all of our resources to ensure our community can continue learning and maintain a sense of structure and connection in the midst of an unprecedented situation.  We’re taking our cues from public health experts in all of the countries in which we operate and closely following recommendations from federal, state, and local government authorities.

We have instructed all of our employees to work remotely if they can and are moving quickly to coordinate a successful shift for learning deliveries on our campuses and at employer offices. 

For real time updates, please refer to comprehensive resources prepared by the World Health Organization and your national health authorities:

  • U.S.: Centers for Disease Control
  • Canada: Public Health Agency
  • Australia: Department of Health
  • U.K. Department of Health and Social Care
  • Singapore: Ministry of Health

We’ll continue to provide updates as this develops and encourage all of you to take care of yourselves and stay safe. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out via email to hello@generalassemb.ly.

What It’s Really Like to Change Your Career Online

By

Going to work used to mean physically traveling to a workplace. Whether by foot, public transit, or car — a job was a specific location to which you commuted. But with the advent of the gig economy and advances in technology, telecommuting has become more and more prevalent. In fact, according to a 2018 study, approximately 70% of workers worldwide spend at least one day a week working from home.

So, why should education be any different? Learning from the comfort of home saves you the time and money you would’ve spent commuting, allows you to spend more time with loved ones, and encourages a much more comfortable, casual work environment.

That’s why we’re now offering all of our career-changing Immersives online. We’ve transformed over 11K+ careers — so whether you’re interested in becoming a software engineer, data scientist, or UX designer, you can trust our proven curriculum, elite instructors, and dedicated career coaches to set you up for professional success.

We sat down with three experts on GA’s Immersive Remote programs to better understand how they work — and more importantly — how they compare to the on-campus experience.

Breaking Barriers

GA Education Product Manager Lee Almegard explained the reasoning behind the move: “At GA, the ability to pay tuition, commute to class, or coordinate childcare shouldn’t be a barrier to launching a new career, she said. “Our new 100% remote Immersive programs are designed to ease these barriers.”

Obviously, saving yourself a trip to campus is appealing on many levels, but some interested students expressed concern that they wouldn’t receive enough personalized attention studying online as opposed to IRL. Instructor Matt Huntington reassures them, saying “Our lectures are highly interactive, and there is ample time to ask questions — not only of the teacher but also of other students.” 

Staying Focused

It’s not always easy to stay focused in a traditional classroom, but when your fellow students have been replaced by a curious toddler or Netflix is only a click away, distraction is a real concern. 

GA graduate Alex Merced shared these worries when he began his Software Engineering Immersive Remote program, but they quickly disappeared. “The clever use of Slack and Zoom really made the class engaging. It leverages the best features of both platforms, such as polls, private channels, and breakout rooms,” he said. “This kept the class kinetic, social, and engaging, versus traditional online training that usually consists of fairly non-interactive lectures over PowerPoint.”

If you’re concerned about staying focused, you can use these simple, impactful tips to stay motivated and on track to meet your goals:

  • Plan ahead. Conquer homework by blocking off time on your calendar each week during the hours in which you focus best.
  • Limit distractions. Find a quiet place to study, put your device on “Do Not Disturb” mode, or find a productivity app like Freedom to block time-consuming sites when studying or working independently.
  • Listen to music. You might find that music helps you concentrate on homework. Some of our favorite Spotify playlists to listen to are Deep Focus, Cinematic Chillout, and Dreamy Vibes.
  • Take breaks. Go for a short walk at lunch and change up the scenery, or grab a latte to power through an assignment.
  • Ask for help. We’re here for you! Our instructional team is available for guidance, feedback, technical assistance, and more during frequent one-on-one check-ins and office hours.

Most importantly, listen to yourself. Everyone learns differently, so take stock of what works best for you. Find the strategies that fit your learning style, and you’ll be well on your way to new skills and new heights. 

Getting Connected and Getting Hired

Another key component of learning is the camaraderie that comes from meeting and studying with like-minded students. How does that translate to a virtual classroom?

GA Career Coach Ruby Sycamore-Smith explains that both students and faculty can have meaningful, productive relationships without ever meeting in person. We’re a lot more intentional online,” she says. “You’re not able to just bump into each other in the corridor as you would on campus, but that means you’re able to be a lot more purposeful with your time when you do connect — way beyond a simple smile and a wave. Merced agrees. “Breakout sessions allowed me to assist and be assisted by my classmates, with whom I’ve forged valuable relationships. Now I have friends all over the world.” And as Huntington pointed out, “There is no back of the classroom when you’re online.” When you learn remotely, every seat is right next to all of your peers.

When we piloted the Software Engineering Remote bootcamp, we took extra care to make sure that our virtual classrooms felt exactly like the on-campus ones, with group labs and even special projects to ensure students are constantly working with each other,” Huntington explained. “A lot of our students form after-hours homework groups, and nighttime TAs create study hall video conferences so everyone can see and talk to each other.” 

And with students from all over the country, you’re going to connect with people you never would’ve met within the confines of a classroom. These peers could even be the very contacts who help you get you hired.

By recruiting industry professionals who are also gifted instructors to lead courses, students are taught how to translate their knowledge into in-demand skill sets that employers need. Sycamore-Smith explains that the involvement of GA’s career coaches doesn’t end after graduation; they’re invested in their students’ long-term success.

She says, “Career preparation sessions are very discussion-based and collaborative, as all of our students have varied backgrounds. Some are recent college graduates, others may have had successful careers and experienced a number of job hunts previously. Everyone has unique ideas and insights to share, so we use these sessions to really connect and learn from one another.” 

Merced is enthusiastic about his GA experience and quickly landed a great job as a developer. “Finding work was probably the area I was most insecure about going into the class,” he confessed. “But the prep sessions really made the execution and expectations of a job search much clearer and I was able to land firmly on my feet.

Conclusion? Make Yourself at Home

After years of teaching in front of a brick-and-mortar classroom, Huntington was a little wary about his move to digital instructor, but his misgivings quickly gave way. 

I was surprised to feel just as close to my virtual students as I did to my on-campus students, he said. “Closing down our virtual classrooms and saying goodbye on the last day of class is so much more heart-wrenching online than it ever was for me when I taught on campus.” 

Huntington’s advice to a student wondering if online learning is right for them: “Go for it! It’s just like in person, but there’s no commute and it’s socially acceptable to wear pajamas!”

Learn About Our Immersive Remote Programs

How to Make a Career Change

By

YOUR UNTAPPED PROFESSIONAL POTENTIAL

catalystisa_index_1440x1600-big

by Ashley Rudolph and Tom Ogletree

How GA’s new income-share agreement program is removing barriers to education and career change.

Embarking on a career change is a major investment. To say it’s a tough endeavor is an understatement, as it usually requires time, money, and effort to bridge skills gaps and make inroads in a new field or profession.

At General Assembly, we’ve helped over 13,000 individuals with finding a job and launching new careers through our full-time Immersive programs in coding, data, and UX design. GA courses aren’t cheap, but they have a high return on investment and are specifically designed to prepare students to be successful and secure high-wage, high-potential roles as web developers, data scientists, and UX designers.

However, many students can’t financially afford this education out of pocket. About 40% of our full-time students use third-party funding sources — including loans, scholarships, GI Bill® benefits, and government programs — to attend GA. There are more seeking who would like to do the same, but half of those who apply for loans get turned down, and our pool of scholarship funding is not big enough to meet demand.

The fact of the matter is that many of our students already have debt from past education or credit cards that affects their ability to secure new financing. Today, the typical college student borrower graduates with an average of $22,000 in debt. A recent study revealed that over 30% of recent student borrowers are facing serious struggles with repaying debt loads. The combination of existing repayment obligations and the looming risk of default leaves many adults with extremely limited funds to devote to continuing education. It’s a frustrating cycle — individuals are stuck in low-paying jobs they don’t love, but they can’t afford the education that will fast-track them into a new line of work.

At GA, we never want a student’s financial struggles to stand in the way of their motivation to break into a new profession. In order to create more access to our rewarding programs, we sought out new ways for career-changers to financially fund their education.

One concept that caught our attention was income share agreements (ISAs), a model of income-based repayment that’s gaining traction among education and training providers. After nearly two years designing this program, we’re excited to launch Catalyst, GA’s ISA program. Since many people are curious about ISAs, we wanted to share some insight around why they’re a viable option for many students pursuing this program, regardless of their income, credit history, or background.

You can read about how and why we created the Catalyst program in more detail in our white paper, Untapped Potential.

How GA’s Catalyst ISA Program Works

The gist of the Catalyst program is this: Students can accomplish taking a full-time GA Immersive course in web development, data science, or UX design at no upfront cost. After they graduate and land a job earning at least $40,000 annually, they’ll start paying back 10% of their income over 48 monthly payments.

We chose this income share amount because it’s comparable to what students might pay for a loan, based on our typical starting salaries. According to PayScale, average starting salaries for web developers are $54,365 nationally, and data from Climb Credit, one of our loan partners, shows that GA graduates report median starting salaries of $60,000 after taking an Immersive course.

Payments are maxed out at 1.5 times the initial cost of tuition (currently about $15,000), meaning that higher earners may end up paying as much as $22,425 total, while lower earners will pay less. We’re working with Vemo Education, the largest provider of ISAs in the United States, to manage the program’s day-to-day operations and administration.

We think these terms benefit career-changers for several reasons:

  • Approval based on future potential. Many loan applicants get rejected because of low credit scores or other debt. Acceptance to Catalyst instead depends on students’ drive and readiness to thrive in the course and on the job.
  • Employment first, payments later. Students can devote their time and energy to excelling in class and job searching — without the looming stress of upcoming payments.
  • Career focus. ISAs and career support go hand in hand. GA’s Career Services team is dedicated to making sure students land a job in their field of study through one-on-one coaching, exclusive hiring events, networking opportunities, and more.
  • Flexible career pathways. The $40,000 minimum salary allows students to accept a lower-paying job they’re passionate about, cultivate a freelance business, or even start their own company without the pressure of loan repayments.
  • Life happens? Payments stop. Students can pause payments at any time if they stop working, whether due to unemployment or personal, family, or health-related reasons.

Our Approach to ISAs

We took a student-centric, research-based approach in deciding whether to introduce ISAs. It was essential to develop a model that does not put the burden only on the student, but also ensures that GA is incentivized to help participants meet their career goals. First and foremost, we wanted to introduce an option that would be attractive to all individuals, regardless of income, credit history, or background.

Data from the ISA industry at large informed our approach to designing the Catalyst program, but our own unique experience serving thousands of students defined our terms. Here are some of the considerations we made while exploring ISAs as a payment option:

  • Student feedback. We reached out to alumni to understand whether or not an ISA-type structure would be appealing to them. We learned what features resonated with our community and built them into our program. More than anything else, students valued not having to make payments while in school and during their job search.
  • Current payment performance data and trends. After analyzing data from past GA applicants and students, we knew that affordability was still a frequent barrier. Loans, government funding, and scholarships are increasingly popular options for our community, but we couldn’t meet demand due to obstacles like a small scholarship pool and applicants’ inability to secure loans.
  • A strong focus on career outcomes. It’s incredible what GA students can achieve after taking one of our full-time programs, regardless of their educational and professional backgrounds. We strongly believe that ISAs can’t work without outcomes-based programming, and GA’s Career Services team is solely focused on ensuring that students in our full-time courses have the tools and skill sets they need to land a job after they graduate. We track student progress, have a Big Four accounting firm audit our job-placement data, and share our outcomes reports publicly every year.
  • Likelihood of students’ success. Students’ actions prior to enrollment reliably indicate how they’ll perform in their course and job search. To ensure Catalyst participants are prepared, applicants must complete our admissions requirements, course pre-work, and a readiness assessment. Our data shows that good performance on the assessment is the best predictor of success in the program and the job search.
  • Commitment to transparency. ISAs are new and we know there’s still a lot to learn about the model, but we’re optimistic. Because of this, we’re pledging to define key success metrics and make them publicly available.

Thanks to funding from the investment firm Kennedy Lewis, we’re able to serve 5,000 students through the Catalyst program in the coming years. We chose to work with the company because of its alignment with our mission and the goals of the program. “The positive social impacts of ISAs are extensive because they align the quality of the education with the cost,” said David Chene, co-founder and managing partner at Kennedy Lewis. “ISAs avoid the debt trap associated with student loan debt as a student will never be asked to pay more than they can afford.”

We’ll learn a lot along the way and are committed to maintaining transparency with our students, our partners, and others interested in the future of ISAs for accelerated career training and work experience. We’ll share updates regularly as we learn, iterate, and improve so we can continue to create greater access to GA’s programs and empower students to pursue professions they love.

***

Ashley Rudolph is GA’s Director of Consumer Operations and Financing, overseeing global campus operations, as well as General Assembly’s loan and income share agreement programs.

Tom Ogletree is Senior Director of Social Impact and External Affairs and manages GA’s communications, public affairs, and social impact initiatives.

***

Since 2011, General Assembly has trained individuals and teams online and on campus through experiential education in the fields of coding, data, design, and business. We believe everyone should have access to leading-edge education that will transform their careers — and their lives. Learn more about our Catalyst ISA program and other financing options, and find out what we’re doing to break down barriers to employment, diversify the workforce, and close the skills gap.

Put Your Career Front and Center: Meet Our Upgraded UX Design Immersive

By

We’ve evolved our career-changing bootcamp to help get you hired in 2020.

Now more than ever, companies are recognizing the value of user-centered design. According to InVision, 92% of the mature design organizations can draw a straight line from the efforts of their design team to their company’s revenue. 

That’s why we’ve given our User Experience Design Immersive program a full revamp, evolving our tried-and-true curriculum to meet 2020 hiring priorities.

Keeping our programs tightly linked to market demand is at the core of our mission. It’s part of our commitment to ensuring our graduates can secure great jobs using their new skills — and it’s why more than 16,000 Immersive grads in six countries have trusted us to help them launch high-growth careers.

To stay ahead of rapidly changing industry needs, we do our research, working closely with employers, practitioners, and students to make impactful updates that help grads launch new careers. We dive into questions including: 

  • What roles are employers looking to hire? 
  • What skills and tools are required on the job?? 
  • What are broader trends across the industry? 
  • And, most importantly, how can we synthesize all of this to ensure our students have the most relevant, in-demand skills they need to succeed? 

Armed with this knowledge, we invested in expanding this full-time, three-month program in a few significant ways — including the introduction of a new Remote format.

What’s New

1. Two additional weeks of expert-led instruction.

Developed with guidance from our User Experience Design Standards Board — a group of design executives from companies like Tigerspike and WarnerMedia — our upgraded UX bootcamp curriculum is primed for industry relevance.

The now 12-week course now dedicates a full week to user interface and visual design topics, enabling students to build high-fidelity prototypes by Week 4. In addition to touching on hot topics like service design, design operations, and design leadership, we’ve also curated the best material from our global network to provide an expanded library of elective lessons.

2. Sharpened focus on real-world collaboration. 

You can take a crash course in UX to learn the foundations, but what makes new designers employable is how they work with developers, product managers, and business stakeholders to drive impact with design. 

Our upgraded UXDI program offers more opportunities to experience on-the-job realities, including UX/UI handoffs, team presentations, and design critiques. Prepare to work cross-functionally by learning Agile methodologies. Then put them into practice, teaming up with classmates to research and prototype a professional client project in a three-week sprint.

3. A sixth passion project.

Throughout this Immersive, students gain hands-on experience with each step in the UX process, compiling a portfolio that showcases fluency in research synthesis, information architecture, user flows, wireframes, and more.  

For their final solo piece, they have the opportunity to distinguish themselves as designers (and job candidates) by choosing one skill area within the UX discipline to hone — for example user research, visual design, or interaction design. Start in the classroom with expert guidance and polish it post-course to demonstrate continuing growth.

4. Online and in-person Immersive options.

For career-changers who don’t live near a GA campus, have a busy travel schedule, or just want to skip the commute, we’re expanding access to UXDI with a new Remote format.

Offered throughout the United States,* the Remote learning experience mirrors GA’s on-campus offerings but allows you to learn from the comfort of home. Connect with expert instructors, guest speakers, and classmates in our interactive classroom setup, powered by 

Zoom and Slack.

You’ll still get access to the expert instruction, learning resources, and support network that GA is known for. Work individually with your career coach to understand your local job market, find opportunities, and connect with the local UX community.

* Remote courses are not available to non-U.S. or New York state residents at this time.

What Hasn’t Changed

Our proven approach to developing industry-relevant curriculum remains the same: We partner with top employers and practitioners in the field to ensure our offerings are tailored to meet today’s needs. A-list companies like Apple, Google, and Fitbit have all hired UXDI grads.

As with all Immersive course participants, UXDI students receive dedicated support from expert career coaches from their first day of class to their first day on the job. Diving deep into personal brand building, design interview prep, exclusive networking events, portfolio development, job search roadmaps, and more, we’re there at every step of the job hunt with guidance to keep grads motivated and accountable.
Read all about UXDI and its new features and dive deeper by checking out the syllabus here. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with us at admissions@ga.co.

Learn More

Introducing On Demand Learning Paths: First-Class Skill Building Anytime, Anywhere

By

2651_on-demand-announcement-header3

With an online community of over 20,000 and growing, we’re helping you take control of when and where you acquire the skills that boost job performance and accelerate your career. 

Introducing our On Demand learning paths — self-led, online programs that enable individuals to easily access bite-sized lessons, downloadable study guides, expert feedback, industry-backed assessments, and much more. With On Demand, learners build in-demand skills in digital marketing, data analysis, user experience (UX) design, and digital mindsets, while learning at their own pace on GA’s device-friendly platform. 

On Demand was designed based on valuable student feedback, and combines the best features from our former Circuit courses — including 1:1 mentor sessions and foundational concepts that drive today’s most influential industries — with skill-building benefits that set learners up for success. We also worked with leading companies and experts to identify the most practical skills needed for highly coveted roles, while providing a seamless online experience for the modern-day learner.

Here’s a breakdown of what’s included in On Demand, and what you can expect when exploring the programs’ dynamic learning paths.

GROW YOUR SKILL SET IN TOP FIELDS ON THE GO 

  1. Accessible on any device, 24/7.
    With On Demand, dive into refreshed content updated with the latest industry research and available on our interactive myGA learning platform. From informative expert-led videos to interactive flashcards to knowledge checks that reinforce key concepts, myGA is user-intuitive and accessible across desktop computers and mobile devices.

  2. Completely self-paced with 12-month access to online content. Build tech skills when you want, where you want over the course of an entire year. Whether you’re a busy professional or lifelong learner who’s constantly on the move, On Demand allows you to access lessons on any device at any time based on your unique schedule. Moreover, you can complete the program within two to three months of starting your learning path, or take as much time as you need to revisit content throughout your access period.

  3. Five 1:1 sessions with expert mentors.
    You don’t have to go it alone. GA’s expert mentors can provide personalized guidance to help you tackle challenging lessons, gather feedback, and keep track of learning goals. For example, meet with industry practitioners to talk through tough concepts, help refine an idea for your portfolio-ready project, or get advice about industry-related topics and trends. Schedule 30-minute private video sessions with an expert mentor at any point throughout the program and at a time that’s most convenient for you.

  4. Free industry-backed skills assessment.
    Developed in partnership with GA’s Standards Boards, the skills assessments included in our On Demand programs enable you to evaluate your skills in the key areas that are required to succeed in fast-growing industries. Discover how your scores stack up against other test takers, identify areas for improvement, and pinpoint proficiencies in core areas.

  5. Full tuition credit toward a part-time or Immersive course.
    On Demand is designed to give you foundational skills in high-growth fields. If you’re looking to take your skill set to the next level, pave the path to a promotion, or prepare for a career change, you can apply the full cost of your On Demand program toward one of GA’s transformative Immersive or flexible part time courses in an equivalent topic.

  6. Team management capabilities for employers.
    Companies looking to train their teams with our On Demand learning path get access to the platform’s unique team management dashboard. Within team management, managers can allocate or reassign licenses to team members, and monitor employee progress in the program. Additional functionality, including the ability to view team members’ assessment scores and learning path progress, is planned for release at the end of 2019.  

BUILD SKILLS IN TODAY’S TOP FIELDS

myga-marketing_082219

Data Analysis On Demand
Make data-driven decisions by applying core techniques like Excel, SQL, and data visualization on the job. Gain skills — including cleaning data, framing questions, visualizing data, and communicating insights — that help solve real business problems.

Digital Marketing On Demand
Craft and launch comprehensive multi-channel brand, acquisition, and retention campaigns that drive effective marketing for the digital age. Explore marketing fundamentals, including segmentation, customer insight, CRM, analytics, and automation. 

User Experience Design On Demand
Create digital products that solve user problems and address business demands. Dive into UX design fundamentals, including user research, prototyping, personas, affinity mapping, and wireframing.

Digital Foundations On Demand
Digital Foundations focuses on increasing digital literacy and advancing teams across organizations. Become well-versed in key topics that drive today’s digital economy, including Agile methodology, customer centricity, growth activation, and data-driven decision-making.

Coming Soon: HTML & CSS On Demand
Build professional, responsive websites using modern HTML and CSS. Advance your skills with forms and responsive email templates, while applying UX design best practices.

Coming Soon: JavaScript On Demand
Create rich, interactive websites with the world’s most popular programming language. Learn new JavaScript ES6 features, code more efficiently with jQuery, and pull data from APIs.

HOW DO I KNOW IF ON DEMAND IS FOR ME?

Looking to learn and apply your new skills quickly, or equip your teams with foundational tools that have an immediate impact on the job? On Demand’s premium, self-led content, accessible and mobile-friendly platform, dedicated mentor support, and industry-leading skills assessments are available to help you get up to speed, and meet your career and business goals without making a huge financial or time commitment. There are no prerequisites — all you need is a thirst for learning! Also, look out for HTML & CSS On Demand and JavaScript On Demand, which are scheduled for release in early 2020. 

Request a program guide to get started. For upskilling teams, request a demo to explore our full suite of corporate training programs. Prefer to speak to someone directly? Contact our Admissions team at onlineadmissions@generalassemb.ly.

6 Challenges for Female Business Leaders

By

2573_acanela-guest-post_header

The business world is no longer just a man’s world. According to 2017 data from the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), over 11 million U.S. firms are currently owned and operated by women, contributing over 1.7 trillion dollars to the U.S. economy.

Though these numbers speak volumes to the power and determination of the female spirit, they do not tell the whole story. Women-owned firms are still the minority, and women continue to face unequal pay, sexism, and gender barriers in the workplace. From finding professional mentors to achieving work/life balance, overcoming these obstacles can seem daunting — especially in technical and chief executive roles where the representation of women is far lower than men.

As a woman entrepreneur, business leader, and the CEO and founder of the travel company Acanela Expeditions, I am incredibly passionate about female empowerment in the business arena. Throughout my journey, I have faced several roadblocks throughout my career and have worked hard to develop successful strategies to transform these hurdles into opportunities.

Below, I want to share six common challenges women business leaders face. Hopefully, you will find these tips useful for overcoming each, and feel more empowered to take charge of and thrive in your career.

1.
Challenge: Most of the people in the room are men.
Opportunity: As a woman, I stand out but I’m also more likely to be remembered.

One of the uncomfortable realities of being a women entrepreneur is walking into a business meeting and realizing that you’re one of the few women (if not the only woman) in the room. The pressure of being the only one can be overwhelming. In fact, studies show that individuals who are “onlies” (e.g. the only woman, the only LGBTQ person, the only person of color, etc.) are subject to a higher percentage of bias and discrimination from members of the majority group, whether intentional or not. No wonder it’s so tempting for us to step back and try to blend in with the crowd!

While the temptation to stick out less is strong, most successful female leaders agree that staying true to yourself and playing to your strengths are key to rising above preconceived notions of how women should appear and act at work.

Instead of conforming to the widely held belief of what a leader looks like or should be, I have discovered that it is important to have confidence in myself and the skill sets that brought me to where I am today. “Sticking out” can actually be a positive attribute, giving you the chance to spotlight the unique skills and outlook you bring to the table. So instead of shrinking back, step forward and make a lasting impression by being both seen and heard.

2.
CHALLENGEIt’s hard to build a support network in a “boys club” world.
Opportunity: Seek both men and women as connections and mentors who will help you along your career journey.

It’s no secret that a lack of mentors and advisors can stunt one’s professional growth. After all, in the business world, it’s not always what you know, but who you know.

Yet, a 2017 study by the NAWBO states that over 48% of women in business report finding it difficult to build a healthy support network in male-dominated fields. Despite this challenge, women have an amazing opportunity to collaborate and build strong support networks.

For example, women-oriented networking groups and events, such as the American Express OPEN CEO Bootcamp and the International Association of Women, are indicative of a growing number of networks and professional spaces that focus on supporting and elevating women professionals. Consider becoming involved with networking groups, professional associations, and other organizations that feature and promote successful women leaders. This gives you the opportunity to not only learn from the experiences of seasoned professionals, but also enables you to make and build connections with potential mentors who can offer support and advice later in your career.

It’s important to note that professional support and mentorship for women does not have to come exclusively from women. On the contrary, I have found incredible value in seeking counsel from men who have shared their connections, advice, expertise, and support — all of which helped catapult me into my current role as CEO.

3.
Challenge: It’s increasingly difficult to balance work with my personal life.
Opportunity: Create a healthy work-life blend.

As a female business executive, I have been asked the question time and time again, “Can women really have it all? There are several flaws inherent to this question (not least of which is the fact that my husband and male coworkers never get asked this).

The truth is that both men and women business leaders are challenged with balancing their career and personal life. However, I’ve found that changing the terminology from “work-life balance” to “work-life blend” helped me ease the juggling act of work and family time. Running your own business takes significant time and effort. However, it can also allow more flexibility and control over your schedule.

As the head of Acanela Expeditions, my work bleeds into my personal life and vice versa. Rather than being a separate part of my life, work is a genuine and integral part of it. This doesn’t mean that I’m simply “on” and working all the time. Instead, I’ve intentionally set strategic, as well as realistic career and personal goals that work together to create a healthy lifestyle for me and my family.

4.
Challenge: I lack access to funding.
Opportunity: Identify funding sources that target women-led fundraising initiatives.

According to a Forbes article published in December 2017, female entrepreneurs receive less than 3% of venture capital funds. Though that number is skewed due to the lack of women in business and corporate leadership positions, studies consistently show women founders as less likely to win adequate funding.

As an entrepreneur, this challenge creates an opportunity for you to engage in education and support networks dedicated to helping women-led businesses. Organizations like the Female Founders Alliance, Astia, and Golden Seeds offer coaching workshops to guide early-stage entrepreneurs through the fundraising process and help connect them to potential donors.

5.
Challenge: I constantly encounter the stereotype that “women are more emotional and less decisive than men.”
Opportunity: Women bring diverse physical, mental, and emotional experiences to the conversation.

You’ve probably heard the common stereotype that women are “emotional thinkers” and, therefore, less competent business leaders than men. While some women may think differently than men as a result of their personal and professional experiences, I haven’t found it to be a flaw in business. If anything, it’s an advantage.

In today’s hypercompetitive marketplace, gender diversity is good business. Women bring unique perspectives, ideas, and experiences to the table that enrich conversations and lead to better company decisions. It often takes great boldness to make our voices heard, but it is essential, for we have a lot of important opinions and ideas to share with the world.

Harmful stereotypes argue that women are less decisive than men and thus have a difficult time making tough business decisions. However, while I tend to be a more relationally-oriented decision maker, I’ve discovered this characteristic to be helpful in advancing my company. I’d also argue that my relationships with colleagues have enhanced not just my leadership abilities, but also the overall health of my company.

Listening to and involving team members in important conversations has enabled me to make more logical, reasonable, and healthier decisions that steer the company forward. Ultimately, respecting my employees and their opinions has helped me become a more well-rounded and successful business leader.

6.
Challenge: Expectations are often set lower for women.
Opportunity: Then shouldn’t it be easier to exceed them?

Earning the same level of respect and recognition as male colleagues can be a difficult and frustrating experience for women. Senior-level roles in businesses remain dominated by men, and internal biases are alive and well in the workplace.

While this reality has frustrated me greatly, I’ve realized that it has also given me the motivation to not only reach those expectations, but to also surpass them. Don’t be discouraged by low opinions and stereotypes. As we continue to surprise and exceed expectations, we break through one glass ceiling at a time.

Overall, the truth is: Yes, women continue to face unfair gender biases in the workplace. However, when viewed from an empowered perspective, these obstacles can serve to strengthen and elevate women leaders in diverse spaces. Meeting these challenges head on presents an incredible opportunity to make a positive impact on your situation and those of future generations. We live in a unique time in history, one in which we have the power and opportunity to band together to break down longstanding barriers, and realize our biggest dreams and career aspirations.  

***

Acanela Expeditions is a US-based travel agency that specializes in experiences, people and culture. Kylie Chenn founded Acanela Expeditions in 2015 after spending a semester in Europe. While abroad, she met incredibly talented individuals, or artisans, with stories that deserve to be shared. She created Acanela Expeditions to provide others with the opportunity to meet and learn from these artisans personally. Acanela Expeditions has nearly 100 tours worldwide and continues to explore unique countries to add to their offered locations. For more information, visit www.acanela.com.

***

By investing in opportunity, General Assembly helps people all over the world leverage technology to achieve their career goals. Our See Her Excel scholarship reflects our commitment to champion gender diversity and inclusion at all levels, and elevate women in software engineering and data science so they can thrive in the world’s fastest growing industries. Learn more about how GA supports women in tech at ga.co/she.

Announcing Our New Course for Software Engineers

By

sei_courseillustrationssvg-large-email

Allow us to reintroduce ourselves.

We’re excited to announce that our flagship program just got a full upgrade for 2019: Web Development Immersive (WDI) is now Software Engineering Immersive.

Keeping our programs tightly linked to market demand is at the core of General Assembly’s mission. It’s part of our commitment to ensuring our graduates can secure great jobs and build meaningful careers using their new skills.

To keep ahead of rapidly changing industry needs, we do our research, working closely with employers, practitioners, and students to make impactful updates that help grads launch new careers. We dive into questions including:

  • What roles are employers looking to hire?
  • What types of jobs do our graduates get, and with what titles?
  • What are broader trends across the industry?
  • And, most importantly, how can we synthesize all of this to ensure our students have the most relevant, in-demand skills they need to succeed?

Since 2012, more than 8000 adults have taken WDI — a rigorous full-time, three-month program with dedicated job support. More recently, we’ve invested in expanding our offering in a few significant ways, leading us to shift our emphasis to software engineering.

What’s New

  1. We added a deep computer science focus.

In the simplest terms, we’re arming our students with the theory behind how computers and applications work. We’ve added 30 hours of in-class and online instruction in computer science concepts. This new content equips students with the ability to describe the “why” behind what they’re doing as they create algorithms, data structures, and design patterns — skills already fundamental to the learning experience in WDI. The ability to understand and demonstrate the “why” is critical for succeeding in technical interviews, and our hands-on approach gets them ready through mock interview questions and challenges.

  1. Spotlight on high-demand languages and frameworks.

As the skills and tools that drive web development evolve, companies have gone from wanting static webpages to needing sophisticated web applications that respond to client needs in real time. Knowing HTML, CSS, and basic JavaScript is no longer enough; roles now require a full suite of engineering skills in order to create complex, scalable web applications. Over the years, we’ve made countless upgrades to our curriculum, integrating high-demand languages and frameworks like Ruby on Rails, Python, Django, React, Angular, and Ember.

  1. Free foundational prep course.

We know our courses are tough; it’s what makes them so effective at landing people jobs. However, we also believe that, with the right preparation, dedication, and support, anyone can make it. To help ensure that students are ready to hit the ground running on day one of class, we’re offering totally free training that covers the foundational elements of software engineering.

  1. $0 upfront tuition options.

We want students to be able to focus on what really matters: their education. To create more pathways into our classrooms, we’ve launched payment opportunities like our Catalyst program. This income share agreement empowers students to take our courses at no upfront cost and only begin paying back their tuition once they have secured a job. Learn more about our flexible financing options here.  

  1. Real-world development workflows.

To ensure our grads enter the workplace ready to perform, we now go beyond full-stack training by replicating real-world engineering scenarios. Our enhanced emphasis on version control, writing specifications, the product development life cycle, design patterns, code refactoring, unit tests, and managing dependencies rounds out the essential competencies for today’s software engineers.

What Hasn’t Changed

Our proven approach to developing industry-relevant curriculum remains the same: we partner with top employers and practitioners in the field to ensure our offerings are tailored to meet today’s needs. And, as with all Immersive course participants, SEI students receive dedicated support from expert career coaches from their first day of class to their first day on the job. Diving deep into personal brand building, technical interview prep, exclusive networking events, portfolio development, job search roadmaps, and more, we’re there at every step of the job hunt with guidance to keep grads motivated and accountable.

Read all about SEI, its new components, and frequently asked questions about the program here. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with us at admissions@ga.co.

Learn More

Leveraging the Paid, Owned, and Earned Media Framework

By

Whether they’re working on a paid social media campaign, crafting copy for a website, or landing coverage in a magazine or blog, many marketing managers share one goal: to raise brand awareness. However, with multiple team members creating countless content assets across several digital channels, processes can get hectic — and inefficient — quickly.

An effective marketing operation requires that everyone on the team takes a holistic view of how media tactics work together. Media tactics fall into three main buckets:

  1. Paid: Media that a marketer pays for, such as display advertising, pay per click (PPC), paid influencers, and retargeting.
  2. Owned: Media from owned properties such as websites, mobile apps, email, and social media platforms.
  3. Earned: Shares or mentions outside of owned channels, such as blog links, news articles, and customer testimonials (negative reviews included).

Most organizations leverage media in all three categories, and each channel often correlates with the responsibilities of different roles and teams. Some channels, like social media, influencer marketing, and content, may intersect with all three buckets.

When team members are aligned on the interplay between paid, earned, and owned media, they can work to tell a cohesive, consistent story across multiple channels. At the same time, they can optimize their contributions independently by thinking about how their work impacts the rest of the organization.

Juggling so many channels and developing a strategy that includes owned, paid, and earned media can be daunting. It requires organization — and that’s where the Paid, Owned, and Earned Media Framework, one of many tools you can use to organize your marketing efforts, comes in.

This framework provides a roadmap for considering media options and choosing which tactics to pursue. Leverage it to:

  1. Understand and assess the value of different channels for your brand.
  2. Organize how you utilize these channels.
  3. Evaluate how different channels amplify one another.
  4. Get a better understanding of your colleagues’ roles.
  5. Align teams across media tactics to create a converged campaign.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the three types of media.

Digital Marketing Campaign Essentials
Boost your skills and launch campaigns that drive real impact with this exclusive guide.

Download the Paper

Paid Media

Paid media today include both traditional and new types:

  • Banner, video, social, and native advertising
  • Paid search
  • Paid influencers
  • Affiliates
  • TV
  • Print
  • Out-of-home

Thanks to the data at the heart of new media, the conversation goes beyond reach to include engagement and relevance. Paid media are often the most expensive digital marketing tactics, but they offer more immediate and predictable reach to a target audience.

Paid campaigns are usually classified in one of two ways:

  1. A brand campaign prioritizes reach. The goal is to share your message with a target audience, raising brand awareness and intent to purchase.
  2. A direct response campaign is meant to drive an action. These typically offer a promotion and a clear call to action (CTA) to try to incentivize the user to complete a conversion.

Thanks to the evolution of creative formats, both goals can be achieved in a single ad that catches a user’s attention, educates them about a product, and drives them through a conversion. For example, Facebook’s carousel format, when used with its Lead Generation objective, allows users to enter their email address directly into an ad unit. This lets a marketer combine both brand awareness and direct response into a single ad.

Owned Media

Owned media channels are those that are fully under a brand’s control. They can be designed, updated, and shared at the company’s discretion.

Websites are arguably the most important owned assets, as a major goal of nearly all other digital marketing channels is to drive traffic to company websites where visitors can then convert. Other key properties include mobile apps, eCommerce sites, content, email lists, direct mail, SMS/messaging lists, and branded social channels.

A company’s physical locations and hosted events are also owned channels, as businesses have control over what happens there.

Owned media channels give you the opportunity to educate and entertain your customers, as well as create a seamless customer experience. For many individuals like email marketing managers, brand managers, and SEO specialists, optimizing owned media channels is a full-time job.

Earned Media

Earned media come from sources outside of your organization, often in the form of word-of-mouth recommendations. Studies show that people find recommendations from people they know to be more trustworthy than content coming directly from brands, and no amount of paid advertising can make up for a lack of valuable earned media.

Common sources of earned media include social media and content marketing shares, unpaid influencers, public relations, reviews, and testimonials. This type of marketing can be very effective but tends to require a longer-term effort than paid and owned media.

It’s also important to note that earned media are the least in our control. We can put effort into driving press coverage or influencer shoutouts, but we can rarely dictate what people say about our brand.

How to Plan a Converged Media Campaign

The most effective marketing strategies combine paid, owned, and earned media to create an impact that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Moreover, the combination that’s best for your brand will be one that’s uniquely tailored to your size, budget, resources, and existing reach.

When you’re planning a campaign, use the worksheets found in our free Campaign Essentials guide to ensure that all stakeholders and teams are aligned on how they’re contributing to the larger end goal(s). As you’ll see, many of these questions incorporate themes and strategies covered in earlier frameworks, and we encourage you to keep your SMART objectives and KPIs in mind.

More Tools to Master Your Marketing Operations

The Paid, Owned, and Earned Media framework is just one of many tools you can use to organize goals, prioritize approaches, create effective campaigns, determine which data to focus on, and more. In our free, exclusive paper, Campaign Essentials, dive into three more valuable frameworks commonly used throughout General Assembly’s digital marketing programs. Each framework serves a different purpose in focusing, planning, executing, and optimizing your marketing campaigns.

Dive into the tactics that drive successful marketing campaigns through our part-time 10-week or 1-week accelerated Digital Marketing course, on our global campuses or online. Learn practical skills in short-form workshops and bootcamps, connect with others in the field at our exclusive campus events, or get an overview of the field in a free livestream. For teams, strengthen your marketing operations by assess your marketers’ skills, identifying growth opportunities, and closing your skills gaps.

Master Your Content Marketing Strategy With the Content Honeycomb

By

Content marketing encompasses the creation and distribution of content that aims to help a specific target customer progress through their journey toward a business conversion.

For your brand’s content to be noteworthy, it has to provide value to the user. The Content Honeycomb is General Assembly’s framework — modeled after information architecture pioneer Peter Morville’s widely used User Experience Honeycomb — for helping you generate, evaluate, and push content marketing strategies that make your brand stand out. It’s one of many valuable tools you can use to plan, organize, and optimize your marketing efforts.

The Content Honeycomb posits that high-value content possesses certain key characteristics. Some (or all) of it should be participatory, entertaining, helpful, educational, meaningful, and/or unique.

If you look at any content success story, it probably ticks the box for at least two or three of these characteristics. You should aim to do the same.

The Content Honeycomb is a great tool for evaluating content, whether it’s created in-house or by an outside agency. As you review each piece of content, ask which boxes it ticks off. If it’s helpful, can you also make it entertaining? If it’s educational, can it also be participatory? In this regard, the framework is extremely valuable in helping to articulate what’s missing from any given content campaign.

Digital Marketing Campaign Essentials
Boost your skills and launch campaigns that drive real impact with this exclusive guide.

Download the Paper

High-Value Content Breakdown

Marketers with a deep understanding of content strategy are more in tune with how their customers feel, what they say, and what they hear. They listen and tailor their efforts according to what their audience really wants — and these efforts translate into results.

What makes for a strong content strategy? Specific characteristics, like “participatory” and “meaningful,” lie at the core of the Content Honeycomb, and crafting material that embodies those terms requires thoughtfulness and detail. Let’s break down each Honeycomb component and explore how you can begin putting it to work.

Meaningful

Meaningful content connects with an audience on a deeper emotional, intellectual, or philosophical level. This content isn’t just about being warm and fuzzy — it’s a business differentiator.

To create meaningful content:

  • Start conversations on social media about resonant topics.
  • Conduct interviews with thought leaders that reveal insights that can improve readers’ lives.
  • Showcase social impact stories that highlight your brand’s commitment to bettering communities and advancing worthy causes.
  • Share stories of people who have been positively impacted by your brand.

I can publish a post on my food review app’s blog that highlights how local restaurants partner with community gardens to incorporate fresh, organic ingredients into their menus.

Educational

Each day, customers search the internet to learn about their interests. They want to go behind the scenes, find out what’s new, and get inspired. Educational content informs an audience about topics that are relevant to a company’s goods, services, or values.

To create educational content:

  • Craft tutorials and how-tos on skills related to your product.
  • Publish slide decks, white papers, or blog posts with helpful information on current trends.
  • Conduct webinars or live “ask me anything” (AMA) broadcasts to share insights from your business’s thought leaders.
  • Condense useful facts into shareable infographics.

I will partner with a chef to produce a cooking tutorial video and host it on my app.

Helpful

Helpful content is just that — it makes things easier for customers, whether it’s a tax calculator and guide to use throughout the season, or simply an FAQ series related to a product.

To create helpful content:

  • Build apps and tools that solve problems for your customers.
  • Share resources and toolkits that assist people in using your product or service to its full potential.
  • Publish white papers that provide insight into your readers’ lives and provide actionable advice.
  • Address common questions with FAQs.

I will create a “traveling foodie’s dictionary” that translates common terms found on regional menus.

Participatory

Participatory content aims to make customers part of a brand story. It inspires people to act, whether they’re engaging in a webinar’s open-chat forum or contributing to a community LinkedIn Group.

To create participatory content:

  • Leverage tools like live video to host a forum in which customers can interact with or add to the content as you’re creating it. Create live, offline experiences that customers can take part in.
  • Run contests and competitions that invite users to create and share original content.
  • Use quizzes and polls to invite people to find out more about themselves — and your brand.

We’ll run a virtual “scavenger hunt” in which users can “find” ingredients at restaurants they review in exchange for points that can be redeemed for dining discounts.

Entertaining

There’s an old adage that suggests people remember how you make them feel more than they remember what you say or do. This also applies in the world of marketing and is the best way to approach creating entertaining content. Marketers can humanize their brands through content that resonates with strong emotions to develop deeper connections with their audiences.

To create entertaining content:

  • Share entertaining photos, videos, or even animated GIFs that connect your brand personality, key messaging, and target audience.
  • When it works, consider bringing humor into the equation.
  • Engage in brand storytelling, experimenting across media formats — videos, slideshares, podcasts, articles, etc.
  • Leverage influencers to create and share original branded content.

I will tweet out trending GIFs that pair well with quotes from user reviews.

Unique

Today’s consumers are met with a constant deluge of new content, from their email inboxes to their social media feeds. Your content not only needs to be fresh and different — it also has to stand out. Effective campaigns are often based on a deep understanding of a specific customer and what matters to them. They break through the clutter of dull “brand speak” and talk to customers in a way that’s relatable — and unique.

To create unique content:

  • Look for content your customers are already generating that’s related to your brand, and play off of it.
  • Offer experiences — either online or in person — that cannot be had anywhere else.
  • Start with the problem your product solves. Reference the work of other leaders in the field or create content in partnership with them to provide original, cross-industry perspectives on your customer’s core needs.

I will compile and share neighborhood-specific restaurant guides by aggregating reviews that users have written on my app.

A strong content strategy should extend consistently across all marketing functions, as every platform and channel is an opportunity to galvanize your audiences and introduce them to your brand. To use content to its full potential across paid, owned, and earned media, engage in ongoing, cross-team brainstorming and keep the Content Honeycomb in mind. By following this framework, your content will make strides in driving profit and elevating the profile of your brand.

More Tools to Hone Your Marketing Tactics

The Content Honeycomb is just one of many tools you can use to organize goals, prioritize approaches, create effective campaigns, determine which data to focus on, and more. In our free, exclusive paper, Campaign Essentials, dive into three more valuable frameworks commonly used in General Assembly’s digital marketing programs. Each framework serves a different purpose in focusing, planning, executing, and optimizing your marketing campaigns.

Dive into the tactics that drive successful marketing campaigns through our part-time 10-week or 1-week accelerated Digital Marketing course, on our global campuses or online. Learn practical skills in short-form workshops and bootcamps, connect with others in the field at our exclusive campus events, or get an overview of the field in a free livestream. For teams, strengthen your marketing operations by assess your marketers’ skills, identifying growth opportunities, and closing your skills gaps.

Set Smart Marketing Objectives With the Objective-First Framework

By

If you’ve ever watched Mad Men, the acclaimed TV drama about the 1960s heyday of Madison Avenue ad agencies, you have an inkling of how marketing worked before digital media and the internet.

Back then, businesses:

  • Identified their target markets and customer value propositions.
  • Crafted creative messages to inspire the audience to try their products.
  • Launched a campaign on TV, on radio, and in print, and…
  • Waited weeks or even months to find out whether or not it worked.

This approach reached potential customers at the top of the marketing funnel, at what’s known as the awareness stage. It was challenging for traditional marketers to target certain demographics and strategically serve different ads to specific audiences.

Today, however, marketers can reach people much further along in the funnel. Digital platforms like Google Analytics, Facebook, and SailThru provide detailed insight into consumer behavior at pivotal points such as the consideration and conversion stages, when people are ready to take action. There are also countless content formats that marketers can leverage across these platforms to influence behavior. The vast range of opportunities to reach and galvanize audiences makes for more effective marketing campaigns — but also more complexity for the people who plan them.

That’s where frameworks come in — tools that help marketers organize goals, prioritize approaches, create marketing plans, and more. Here we’ll tackle the Objective-First Framework, which will help you set laser-focused goals for any campaign. (For more frameworks to plan, optimize, and measure your marketing efforts, download our free guide, Campaign Essentials.)

To take advantage of all the tools and data available, marketers must be crystal clear on what they and their business are trying to accomplish, and why. Launching media plans across channels without truly understanding key objectives can lead to lackluster results that compromise the brand — and the bottom line.

Set yourself, your team, and your business up for success by establishing explicit marketing objectives and a well-defined path for achieving them.

The Objective-First Framework offers a streamlined approach to setting goals, drawing conclusions, and analyzing channels. It takes a lot of ambiguity out of crafting objectives and aligns stakeholders on what defines success. This powerful tool helps you:

  1.  Structure marketing efforts.
  2. Share plans and results.
  3. Use marketing resources wisely.
  4. Discern what data is and isn’t important.
  5. Establish a common goal and ensure that all stakeholders are aligned.

The Objective-First Framework can be implemented at any level of your marketing organization — individuals can use it to keep their own goals on track, and teams can use it to pursue big-picture targets. The framework helps you outline goals and hypothesize, execute, and measure results, which means a quicker path to success.

How to Build a Strong, SMART Marketing Objective

As the name of this framework implies, choosing your objective is the most essential step in planning a marketing strategy and campaigns across any channel. A strong marketing objective will answer two critical questions:

  1. What perception or behavior do you want to change in your customers?
  2. What will changing this perception or behavior do for your business?

To set up an objective, first consider the following questions:

  • What do I or my team specifically want to achieve?
  • Why is this goal important to achieve?
  • By when do I need to achieve this goal?
  • What defines success?

Once you answer these questions, you can determine whether or not your objective is SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. Just like the acronym suggests, a SMART objective is well thought out and crafted with consideration. It keeps you focused on the path to reaching your goal and helps you avoid logistical or strategic pitfalls.

Here’s a breakdown of the qualities that define SMART objectives.

Specific

A good objective should be as specific as possible; this will help you to measure your progress toward reaching it. If your objective can be interpreted in several different ways, it may not be specific enough.

Let’s say you wanted to recruit users for a food review app. Your objective might be, “Attract 200 new users this month.” However, without stating that you want those users to be active contributors to your community, your team might offer a one-time sign-up reward. This may get 200 new users, but they will likely be bargain-hunters who won’t contribute to the community… or return to the app. Make this objective more specific by defining the behaviors users need to take in the app before they can be counted toward your goal.

Measurable

Could stakeholders disagree on whether or not your objective was achieved? If so, it’s not sufficiently measurable. To make success as unambiguous as possible, think of hard numbers or objectives with “yes or no” answers that remove guesswork from analysis. For example, if your objective is, “Attract 200 new users who will write at least two food reviews in their first month using the app,” you’ve defined a clear “yes” or “no” question with a quantifiable, measurable answer.

People across your organization should also be aligned on the tool(s) you’ll use as a source of measurement — for example, the profit and loss report, a client survey, or sales reports. This establishes a shared vocabulary and ensures that everyone is on the same page (literally) when looking at metrics.

Attainable

Choose an objective that you know can be achieved but is not guaranteed. This will keep you motivated and creative. If your objective is too easily attainable, there’s no challenge in it and it may not impact broader business objectives in a significant way. On the other hand, if your objective is completely unrealistic, you risk wasting resources, frustrating leaders and teammates, and possibly failing the business.

Realistic

Don’t set objectives that rely heavily on something that’s outside of your influence or lie dramatically beyond benchmark performance. If your plan requires technologies you don’t have (or don’t exist!), exceeds your budget, or leans on talent that isn’t available, your chances of succeeding will be greatly limited.

Time-Bound

Set target dates and key milestones to keep things on track. A realistic time frame provides a finish line to look forward to and creates a sense of urgency for accomplishing the goal. Milestones help organize and streamline key steps in a campaign and hold teams and stakeholders accountable for different components of the project.

Applying the Objective-First Framework to Your SMART Objective

Now that you’ve crafted a SMART objective, it’s time to work through the rest of the Objective-First Framework. In this section, we’ll outline each of the framework’s six steps and their role in driving a successful marketing campaign. We’ve identified the main goal of each step and provided a few key questions you can ask to guide your progress.

Set Objectives

Set a SMART objective that describes why you are running the campaign and what you hope to accomplish. Key questions to answer include: What customer behavior are you trying to change? What will that do for the business?

My objective is to attract 200 new engaged users to my food review app in the next 12 weeks. Engagement will be defined as a user posting two reviews in their first month using the app. This objective will increase engagement and community involvement on the app, creating a more attractive package for advertisers. This will boost the app’s revenue.

Define KPIs

Determine the key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll use to evaluate the success of your campaign. KPIs are the metrics that you identify as most important for tracking performance against your stated objective. All KPIs are metrics, but not all metrics are KPIs. Consider: What are the top one to three metrics that address, “Did we reach our objective?”?

I’m going to track number of new users, how many reviews each new user posts on the app, and when they post them. My top metrics will be 1) number of new users — defined by creation of new accounts — between April 2 and June 25, and 2) number of reviews posted by users who joined between April 2 and June 25 within first month after app download.

Design Tactics

Determine how to reach your target customer by asking yourself: Where does your target customer spend time online? What devices, websites, and apps are they using? What motivates them?

I’m going to launch an Instagram ad campaign targeting users between 24–32 years old who are food enthusiasts and use similar food apps. My target customer spends a lot of time eating at restaurants, posting and looking at food photos on Instagram. They’re motivated by trying the trendiest new dishes around the city and showing off what they ate.

Execute Campaign

Put your tactics into action in the channels you believe will be most effective for your campaign, based on your research conducted in Step 3. Then, identify the resources and team members you need to execute this campaign.

The Instagram campaign will cost $250. I need the Creative team to choose three images and write copy for the Instagram post, plus create a landing page to compel visitors to download the app. I’ll also need the Partnerships team to create a tracking URL to which potential users will be directed.

Measure Outcomes

Measure and analyze your performance as it occurs. This will help gauge the health of your campaign along the way. A helpful question to ask is: What metrics tell you how you can improve performance?

In the first two weeks of the Instagram campaign, 5,000 people visited the URL and 250 of them downloaded the app. Fifty-five of those people published one review in their first week after downloading the app. The fact that 5,000 people clicked the link from our Instagram page but only 250 of them downloaded the app suggests that the content on the page to which users were directed wasn’t sufficiently compelling. I need to get more people who click on the Instagram ad to actually download the app.

Optimize Results

Use your results to inform iterations on the campaign that hopefully boost performance. It’s likely you’ll find variables you can alter in your campaign that may move the needle on your goals.

Because I suspect the issue is the landing page, I could create an alternate version of it with different images and copy, then perform an A/B test to compare download rates between the two pages.

More Strategies to Drive Winning Digital Marketing Campaigns

The Objective-First Framework is just one of many tools to help marketers organize goals, prioritize approaches, create effective campaigns, determine which data to focus on, and more. In our free, exclusive paper, Campaign Essentials, dive into three more valuable frameworks commonly used throughout General Assembly’s digital marketing programs.  Each framework serves a different purpose in focusing, planning, executing, and optimizing your marketing campaigns.

Dive into the tactics that drive successful marketing campaigns through our part-time 10-week or 1-week accelerated Digital Marketing course, on our global campuses or online. Learn practical skills in short-form workshops and bootcamps, connect with others in the field at our exclusive campus events, or get an overview of the field in a free livestream. For teams, strengthen your marketing operations by assessing your marketers’ skills, identifying growth opportunities, and closing your skills gaps.

Digital Marketing Campaign Essentials

Boost your skills and launch campaigns that drive real impact with this exclusive guide.

Download the Paper