Thinking back to my days at University, studying marketing and feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed, I had no idea what my actual job would entail. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love working in marketing, but what we are taught at school and university and what we see on TV, illustrating the marketing industry of the 80’s, is so far off what we actually do nowadays. Below are my ten harsh truth’s about entering the marketing industry.
1. It’s Not All Creative Banners And Fun TV Ads
Whether you watch ‘What women want’ or truly reminisce with ‘Mad Men’, I completely expected to spend 90% of my time sat in board rooms trying to think of the ‘next big idea’. Instead, I have spent 90% of my time sat behind my computer while working in-house and I spent 90% of my time travelling to/from or communicating with clients while working at an agency. From SEO to PPC and Social Media, the marketing services available to us have been digitalised, as so many of us are moving away from traditional roles.
2. Everything You Know Will Be Out Of Date Within 12 Months
I have never witnessed an industry like ours, an ever-evolving beast which demands your constant attention. Whether you’re staying up to date with Google algorithmic updates and link building tactics or you’re introducing new advancements to your site and your marketing strategy, this role requires constant education. You’re only as good as your most recent project.
3. Those Buzzwords Aren’t As Important As You Think
Don’t get me wrong, you might utilise your knowledge of the 4 p’s of the marketing mix, you might create a SWOT analysis and you may introduce a Boston matrix within a presentation, but you will likely go 12 months without even hearing the term mentioned. They have their place and are important things to learn, in order to help you become more strategic in your approach, but don’t overstress these exam buzzwords, there are much bigger fish to fry.
4. Don’t Ever Presume A Role Is Simple
I’ve heard so many recent graduates discuss different roles, as if they could walk right into the job, but soon as I quiz them they are left stumped. It is easy to look at the social media manager and assume you could take that job because you built that one Facebook page on the X-factor singer 2 years ago and got a few thousand likes. But if they asked you to illustrate how you would measure ROI, what would be your answer? If they asked you to schedule the months’ worth of posts, would you know which tool to use? If they asked you to build a comprehensive community strategy and to illustrate what bots and tools you would require, would you be prepared?
5. Extracurricular Activities Don’t Mean Diddly-Squat
There is an exception to this point. If you have a shared passion with the person interviewing you, you might be able to build a rapport. Secondly, if your hobby is related to a marketing agencies client then you will be demonstrating you have a pre-existing understanding of the industry. I have a strong passion for bodybuilding and this helped me to bag a sports supplement client in the past, as they instantly recognised I understood their products and their audience. However, you shouldn’t presume you playing in a 5-a-side football team on Sunday will help you to wing the job of your dreams.
6. Marketing Isn’t Just Brand Awareness, It’s Predominantly ROI Focused
There will always be a strong element of brand awareness in anything you work on, especially if creating display campaigns, however the role is heavily focused on how much money you are earning your company. Marketing is often cited as a ‘luxury’ that businesses can cut back on when struggling. It is your job to prove the value of your work, which is where your ability to report on stats and figures will be critical, so get working on your Excel formula skills.
7. Not All Marketing Is Evil
My grandparents view on marketing was that we hunt down innocent bystanders and force our ads down their throat, tricking them into buying something they don’t really want. In reality, we are often offering a source for people who are actively searching for a product or service. Let’s use PPC as an example: If someone types in ‘cheap holidays in Spain’ and you target this term with an ad pointing through to your travel agencies Spain page, then you are helping the searcher to find a pertinent result.
8. You Need Thick Skin
Whether it’s a client tearing apart an idea you thought was genius, a customer offering a brutal review or a head of department stomping on your parade, you will find negativity left, right and centre. The important thing is to embrace the negativity and take it on board, so you can work out how to improve future results. As previously mentioned, the key to succeeding in marketing is continuous self-improvement, so this requires a thick skin, a positive attitude and a willingness to learn.
9. Be A Jack Of All Trades & Master Of One
You will most likely need to specialise in one area, however all the different segments of marketing overlap so much nowadays, you need to have an understanding of the entire mix. My current role combines PPC, SEO, Design, Social Media, Content Creation & Strategy, Video Creation & Editing, Affiliates and Email Marketing. Not all jobs will be so all-encompassing, however I’m using my strength in each area to help improve the businesses results, something which will definitely put you in a good light in an interview process.
10. Network At Every Opportunity
Whether its people I have worked with, someone I’ve met at a conference or someone from a local event, I always seem to recognise a few faces at any conference I attend. It is so incredibly important to network within this industry. Whether it’s to help get you a job in the future, a possible sale, someone to bounce ideas off or someone who you can simply attend networking events with, your evenings should contain as many conferences and events as possible. You will also eventually be invited to speak at a conference, which will help to put you in front of a much wider audience, either helping your business to expand their customer base or finding you a future role in a higher position.
By Tom Bourlet