‘What Do You Want Out of a Job?’ A Former News Editor’s Foray into B2B Digital Marketing


‘What Do You Want Out of a Job?’ A Former News Editor’s Foray into B2B Digital Marketing

September 21, 2021

By Nadia Mahmud, Content Strategist

There was a running joke at my former workplace, a news organization: You either work here under three years and move on, or you stay forever and become part of the furniture. There’s no in-between.

As an idealistic fresh grad, I believed (and still do) in journalism’s role in creating an informed public—and therefore a healthy democratic society. In my view then, no other profession can claim to serve such a noble purpose. It was almost a higher calling.

But it wasn’t long before the reality of the job set in. The need to feed the 24/7 news beast was relentless. And it was frustrating and thankless, especially when everyone around you insists on forwarding unverified viral stories on WhatsApp. Forget about work-life balance; there wasn’t even a work-life imbalance, which implies there is a life outside of work to begin with.

After nine years in various roles at different organizations—which always had the threat of permanently shutting down at any time—I was exhausted. I needed a change, and chanced upon a small start-up that called itself a “marketing as a service” firm.

At the interview with Managing Director Yong Siew Mee, I confessed I knew nothing about digital marketing, enterprise tech, or even writing for a B2B audience. Then she asked: What do you want out of a job?

There was no time to embellish my answer to sound like a more desirable candidate, so I said: 1) I want a job I can do well, 2) with room to grow, but 3) most of all, I want a job I can leave at work.

Three years later, the 30-person start-up has grown to almost 250—half of whom joined us remotely in the last year alone, without ever stepping foot in our beautiful office in TTDI. Our client portfolio has quadrupled, with a healthy pipeline that means we’ll keep growing for the foreseeable future.

So we’re always on the lookout for good content writers; writers who not only write well, but also see the bigger picture of how content goals fit into marketing goals that in turn help the organization achieve its business objectives.

But looking back on that interview, there are some things I wish someone had told me. I’m here to share three things I didn’t know before joining 2X.

1. The C-Suite Are People Too

Coming from a news background with short stints in advertising and PR, the idea of writing for a B2B audience scared me. Where writing for B2C is about getting the most number of eyeballs on your content, writing for B2B is hyper-focused. The goal is to gain trust, show empathy, and build authority—all to nudge the audience through to the next stage of the buyer’s journey.

2X’s clients are mostly U.S.-based enterprise tech solution providers, and I felt terribly insecure about my lack of transferrable skills. I could write and edit news articles, sure, but the extent of my digital skillset was Microsoft Word. It was a steep learning curve: not only did I have to learn how B2B marketing works, I also had to learn about tech solutions I’d never heard of, that solve business problems I didn’t know existed, to be able to convince a C-suite audience I had nothing in common with.

But beyond the scary corporate jargon, I learned that C-suite readers are real people trying to solve real business problems. To me, the joy of writing is the joy of figuring things out, and there’s a real satisfaction when everything “clicks” together; when you understand it well enough to be able to explain it clearly and concisely, and then craft it into a message that resonates.

And on the clients’ side, the stakeholders (often a CEO, CMO, or VP of Marketing) are also real people looking to generate real results from their marketing. It took a lot of reading (and a lot of time being scared) but I’ve come a long way. My first week, I had to interview a subject matter expert (SME) about the latest tech trends in the logistics industry; I was a nervous wreck and used up all my mental energy trying not to stutter.

Having worked on dozens of whitepapers, articles, ebooks, videos, infographics, blogs, emails, landing pages, ads, and social posts, I now have more confidence in my ability to understand and produce meaningful content. I’ve grown so much beyond my role; I still think of myself as a writer, but as a content strategist I can also explain and justify our content decisions to a client stakeholder, as well as play a more consultative role to plan the best next steps. It no longer fazes me to speak to a CEO—as a lifelong introvert, this is a personal win!

2. If You Feel Like the Smartest Person in the Room, You’re in the Wrong Room

Learning is a big part of the culture at 2X. One of our favourite sayings is “you can do anything, but nobody can do everything.” As a writer on a client delivery team, you’d typically work with a Designer, Data Specialist, Marketing Ops Specialist, Program Manager, and Client Success Director. Being part of a team where everyone is an expert in their respective fields, and everyone knows something you don’t—there’s no other word for it: it’s inspiring. There’s always something to learn, and it drives me to be better every day.

This is only possible because of the mutual respect that’s fostered and expected on all sides; there’s no “boss knows best.” Decisions are made based on data and results, rather than individual tastes. And having clear metrics for success means everyone is on the same page about what’s working and what’s not.

Mutual respect is also a huge part of the relationship between the 2X team and client stakeholders; there’s no “client knows best,” either. During a recent meeting where the stakeholder was talking me through his feedback on a whitepaper I’d written, he paused and said: “But I’m not a writer, okay? You tell me if these comments make sense.”

I never thought I’d hear that from a client—a CEO, no less, who speaks English as his first language. At any other organization, that meeting probably would have gone very differently.

3. Relax, It’s Just a Job

Despite all my initial reservations, I’m glad I made the jump to 2X. At the end of the day, it really is a job I can leave at work. Utilization hours are tracked carefully, and although there are busy periods, working more than 40 hours a week raises a red flag that is immediately addressed.

With the work-life balance here, I’m surprised at how much time there is in a day, actually. I have time to rediscover my love for fiction. I spend weekends revisiting my favourite books and writing for short story competitions, making the cut out of thousands of participants worldwide. Either my growth as a B2B writer has somehow translated into writing better fiction, or I’m just more well-rested and have the space to think of better stories.

I love learning new things, and now have the energy after work to do so. Since joining 2X, I’ve learned to play tennis (MCO restrictions notwithstanding) and discovered I have a pretty decent slice. I’d also never played piano before and can now play some of my favourite songs.

I’m also surprised at how much I like the people I work with. Even in lockdown we’ve found ways to spend time together, with sponsored virtual team lunches and self-initiated impromptu sessions covering games, movies, and working out. I now look forward to Marvellous Mondays, a weekly virtual movie night where we watch superhero movies and chat about important things such as whether or not we would date Chris Evans (spoiler alert: a unanimous yes).

Now that I’ve passed the three-year mark in B2B digital marketing, I find myself thinking of that running joke at the news organization. I won’t stay at 2X forever—nor does the company expect “lifers” on staff—but I know how rare it is to find all three things I want out of a job in one place. It’s been an incredible journey, and the best part is, I feel like I’m just getting started.

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