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The TopRank Marketing Team Explores the Meaning of Great Work

Posted on Jul 5th, 2017
Written by TopRank Marketing
In this article

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    When you hear the names Tesla, Einstein, Da Vinci or Earhart, what comes to mind?

    For me, these are people who pushed boundaries, didn’t settle and changed the world. In the end, what they really have in common is that they all produced “great work”.

    Today more than ever, marketers are challenged to constantly push themselves to be more innovative and agile to create great work quickly. Competition is becoming increasingly fierce and brands and agencies alike are trying to stand out to attract customers and clients.

    But what does great work really mean?

    At the core, in order to actually produce great work you must always be learning, growing and practicing your craft.

    Recently, our friends at Workfront released a series of interviews with some of today’s top marketing minds that focused on what it really takes to create meaningful work. Inspired by that series, we’ve included some of our favorite insights from these marketing masterminds, and asked some of our own team members what great work means to them (including my own definition of great work).

    Here is what they had to say…

    What Does Great Work Mean to You?

    Lee Odden

    “I think great work is a combination of things. Great work should serve a purpose and have an impact to advance the organization in some way. Quality, effectiveness, and efficiency all contribute to work that’s great.

    But, there’s another dimension that I think is critical for defining great work and that is based on the assessment we do of ourselves.

    Those who set high standards and are driven to excellence set the bar higher than any manager, client, or customer would. Great work in this context is the accomplishment of quality, consistency, and effectiveness that satisfy personal goals for excellence.

    Ultimately, great work stands out as thoughtful and purposeful, creative, data informed, effective, efficient, measurable, and satisfying for those who do it.”
    – Lee Odden, CEO, TopRank Marketing – Read Lee’s  full interview on the Workfront blog

    “At a bare minimum, great work produces the results or desired outcome you’re looking for. Really great work is innovative in that it addresses the needs of your audience in a new and creative way.”
    – Alexis Hall, Director of Client Accounts, TopRank Marketing

    “There is producing work, and then there is producing ‘great work’. To me, producing great work means that the work needs to achieve two pivotal qualifiers. It must be something that you are proud to stand behind, and it must serve a clear and desirable outcome.”
    – Dan Rasmussen, Account Manager, TopRank Marketing

    “I think ‘great work’ is that which exceeds your original objective and/or opens up new opportunities.”
    – Evan Prokop, Digital Marketing Manager, TopRank Marketing

    Great work means what it’s always meant: It’s work that an audience values. It’s work that resonates with the people you want to reach.”
    – Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs – Read Ann’s full interview on the Workfront blog

    “The definition of great work is ridiculously simple; great work has transformative power to change behavior, thoughts, habits, or opinions of everyone it touches. But actually cultivating that sort of work every single day? Now that is a ridiculously complex challenge that few can meet, but is nonetheless worth striving for.”
    – Knute Sands, Content Marketing Manager, TopRank Marketing

    “The definition of great work can be found in the results. Great work goes above and beyond objectives for the product – whether that’s a blog post, an eBook or a pair of fluffy cat pajamas.”
    – Tiffani Allen, Account Manager, TopRank Marketing

    “To me, producing great work comes down to focusing on doing the little things right. At times, marketers are too fixated on the bigger goal instead of what it will take to get there. Producing great work is a collection of the little things to make something that drives actions/results.”
    – Kevin Cotch, SEO Analyst, TopRank Marketing

    “Through your work you get ROI for your customers and you strive for better ROI than anyone else in the industry. But you also want to have work that creates opportunities for people. That could mean your employees, your family of people who you want to help.”
    – Ian Cleary, Founder, RazorSocial – Read Ian’s full interview on the Workfront blog

    “Producing great work is all about having fun as well as learning something new along the way. I love it when that child-like curiosity comes out that say, ‘oh, what if we do this?’. The experimentation takes place comes from both the willingness to push boundaries and the knowledge to understand when you are on the right path.”
    – Amy Higgins, Account Manager, TopRank Marketing

    “Producing great work is all about two things:

    1. Knowing that it could be better. Even if you put everything you could into a project you know that it could have been better. You learned something from your mistakes or success that you can use the next time. When you know that it could be better you’re not afraid to change and iterate. Doing great work is knowing that it’s never perfect.
    2. Getting it done. Sometimes, when you know things can be better, it’s hard to finish a project. You strive for perfection and pay the cost in missed opportunity. Getting things done even though you know they can be better is the key. You have to finish something to learn from it.”

    – Steve Slater, Digital Advertising Manager, TopRank Marketing

    “For me, producing great work comes down to three core things: Vision, attention to detail and passion. Your vision is what drives your creative process. Your attention to detail is what ensures your vision is realized. And your passion is what adds authenticity, credibility and true quality to your finished product.”
    – Caitlin Burgess, Content Marketing Manager, TopRank Marketing

    To me, this is actually a ‘body of work’—attributable to a thought leader, writer, artist, creative. It’s a physical or virtual ‘thing’ you can point to with great pride and humility at the same time, and know that you put this creation together.”
    – Mari Smith, Social Media Expert & Consultant – Read Mari’s full interview on the Workfront blog

    “Great Work is a massive, motivational goal for me and team members I spend my time with daily. We all believe as Steve Jobs did that ‘Work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.’

    The thing is; great work doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves. And so being open to the multitude of lenses, we all view our work through, is extremely important to fostering even more great work in the future.

    Remember Lester Bangs who said ‘Every great work of art has two faces, one toward its own time and one toward the future, toward eternity.’

    The only way to truly produce great work is to commit to learning, absorbing, experiencing and trying, trying and yes, trying again.

    Thornton Wilder motivates us all to be great workers with his thoughts ‘Seek the lofty by reading, hearing and seeing great work at some moment every day.’

    No matter what lens you view great work through or how much time and energy you put into generating great work, I think it wise to live by the words of Mark Zuckerberg ‘Celebrate people doing great work and create more cultural momentum and awareness that this is an important thing in the world.’

    Great work! A guiding principle in my life and those around me.”
    – Susan Misukanis, President & Co-Founder, TopRank Marketing


    “Great work is something you can look back on with a sense of pride and accomplishment. If you pushed yourself, utilized the tools and resources available to you, and delivered something you’re proud to put your name on, chances are you’ve produced great work.”
    – Will Peterson, Account Manager, TopRank Marketing

    “Results achieved and nothing less. With the real-time, noisy nature of social media today, you’re only as good as your last win. Meaning, what worked for you a year or two ago is no longer relevant due to the speed at which marketing is evolving.”
    – Carlos Gil, Head of Global Media, BMC Software – Read Carlos’ full interview on the Workfront blog

    I think the one deciding factor for ‘great work’ is that it is meaningful. That doesn’t necessarily mean curing cancer or getting stray dogs adopted or the like, though a societal benefit definitely helps. By ‘meaningful’ I mean that you understand the purpose of the work in the context of the company, the client, the intended audience. For a content writer like me, that meaning is the difference between filling buckets with words and guiding a reader to take action. If my content helps a reader make a decision that benefits them, brings revenue to our client, and inspires that client to continue investing in our agency—to me, that’s great work.”
    – Josh Nite, Content Marketing Manager, TopRank Marketing

    “Great work must be founded on solid strategy aligned with specific business (or personal) objectives, integrated in all definitions of the word (across channels, across business units, etc.),  be measurable and have goals. If you don’t reach your goals, you haven’t necessarily failed. Great work means failing fast. Learning quickly. And trying again.”
    – Elizabeth Williams, Account Manager, TopRank Marketing

    “For me, great work is all about producing something that you’re proud of, especially if it is something new or different. Also, great work should absolutely have a big impact on business goals, otherwise, what’s the point?

    By not settling for the status quo, being open to learning new things and pushing boundaries, you open yourself up to finding new and innovative ways of creating great work that stands out against your competitors.”
    – Ashley Zeckman, Director of Agency Marketing, TopRank Marketing

    I don’t really think about it. For me, if I’m proud of it, and my team is proud of it, and our clients are proud of it, I’m okay with that. Of course, we look at metrics. But when you have a real impact, you don’t need metrics to tell you.”
    – Jay Baer, President, Convince & Convert – Read Jay’s full interview on the Workfront blog  

    Guiding Themes of Great Work

    In order to create great work, you must:

    1. Always be learning growing and evolving your approach.
    2. Do work that you find meaningful and fulfilling.
    3. Set the bar high and measure results against business objectives.

    If you’d like to join a team of digital marketers committed to doing great work, let’s talk! Feel free to stop over at our careers page to browse our open positions or contact us at and let us know what great work means to you!