Meet Chris Alarcon, Tuff’s PPC Strategist. Chris works closely with Tuff’s clients to identify, test, and scale profitable paid channels.
Below, he shares how he got so clear on the steps he wants to take in his career, why remote work has helped reduce anxiety, and what advice he’d give to someone new to working in PPC.
How did you get started working in PPC?
It’s almost been exactly five years since I started doing PPC. Once I graduated college, I knew I wanted to do more digital focused marketing. It was 2013 and I could tell that’s where everything was shifting toward. I wanted to learn more hard skills that I really didn’t learn in college. When I got my first opportunity to be in an in-house digital marketing position, I really wanted to learn more PPC.
Why’d you make the switch from in-house to agency?
I got bored of working on the same account, the same campaigns over and over and wanted to gain a bunch of experience and work in a bunch of different types of industries.
Then, I was looking for a more growth focused agency. I think a lot of agencies that started out as more traditional marketing agencies scrambled to get involved in digital when it became obvious they needed to get on board. This is me generalizing but they never really had to have a laser scope focus on performance metrics. For example, say 1,000 people drive past this billboard a day. Then, multiply that by 30 days and you’ll get 30,000 impressions on this billboard. And what did that really ever do? In digital marketing, you can actually see the analytics behind everything.
More modern and client-focused agencies care more about these analytics and seeing growth rather than the perfect revenue model to get the most money for the least work. When I saw the posting for Tuff, I was like, ‘Oh, this, this is more in line with the growth marketing focus I want to do rather than just like a traditional agency’. And it was aligned with what I wanted in terms of my lifestyle and autonomy in my job. So once I saw the job posting, I applied and thought let’s give it a shot.
You mentioned autonomy being important to you in your work. What else?
I’ve always had a good balance of work and life, that’s always important to me. So, I’ve chosen to work at places that allow that. I think, for me, it’s been more so about learning skills to get to where I want to be.
When I first started in my career, it was your general marketing coordinator job. And I knew that I wanted to do something with more impact, I wanted to go deeper. What I found was that, in order to do that, I had to learn a specific skill set. So that’s when I started learning digital marketing on my own time. Learning specific skills helped me get my first digital marketing full time job, which opened up more doors for me to go where I wanted.
You’ve been very intentional about your career path and proactive in learning skills to get you there. That can be really hard! How do you identify what you want and then take action?
I knew that having a specific skill set would open up the door to more opportunities and it became about taking the right opportunity rather than just kind of, well, they called me back so that’s where I’m going to work.
It’s important to me to be able to pick where I want to move rather than have to fall back and say, ‘I’m going to apply to 50 jobs on LinkedIn and if they like my resume, they’ll call’. I want to be specific and selective. So once I found the skill set that let me do that, I was able to narrow it down into that niche.
If you go back a few generations, people spent their whole careers at companies they hated. I feel really blessed that I’m working in a time period where something like remote work can be possible and it is easier to at least have an option to take my skills and work in a place that I feel happy to be. I think that was the catalyst for me. Growing up, I decided I didn’t want to dread those five days a week.
Why is remote work a priority for you?
I’m really obsessive about certain things and little details. I have OCD, so I do have real anxiety about a lot of things. I don’t have as many noticeable ticks anymore or anything but being in a comfortable environment really helps reduce a lot of that anxiety.
I have been lucky that I’ve never worked in an office or a company that did make me feel anxious. But I could imagine if I had, how drastically different I would behave. But luckily, one thing that I knew even from college was that I wanted to work at places that were culture focused first. I knew that I wanted to be in a place where I always felt comfortable, even if it wasn’t working from home.
Why did you decide to join Tuff? What was it that made you say ‘yes’?
The message and the mission stood out to me. I liked the idea of being more transparent and growth focused and having a really close eye on actually delivering positive results rather than just worrying about getting campaigns up. I think a lot of traditional agencies focus more on ‘how many campaigns are you getting?’ and ‘how much money are you getting the client to spend?’ and lose focus on if the work is actually having a positive outcome.
What is it about PPC that gets you fired up?
I really love digging into data and analyzing it and trying to figure out the immediate results and long term trends. So that’s one thing that really drew me to PPC over any of the other digital marketing disciplines. With PPC, you can make changes that have noticeable effects in the stats right away. And, that’s what really drew me to it.
At Tuff, our clients are really fun to work on. Every single one of them is unique so there’s a lot of data to work with. I like the diversity of our clients.
What advice would you give to someone working in PPC at Tuff?
Be willing to try a lot of different things. And even if you haven’t tried a specific channel before you know more than you think. So like, if you’ve never done a YouTube campaign before you still know the basics of what makes a good campaign. Don’t be afraid to test a lot of different variables and try small experiments to learn. It can be a little intimidating at first but new challenges are what makes work fun.
We feel so grateful to have Chris on the team! And admire the steps he’s taken to design the career he wants. Chris helps other marketers go remote by running semjobs.io. If you’re a marketer looking for a remote role, check it out!
Ellen is the founder at Tuff and one of the team’s core growth marketers. She is a versatile marketer with expertise in multiple channels – from ppc to seo to email to others – responsible for the experiments and testing. She is happiest when she’s on the ski hill or outside pointing her mountain bike downhill.