Last week we were delighted to participate in two different bits of (we hope) inspirational communications. On the one hand, as part of Digital Bristol Week, we invited local professionals and students alike into our offices to learn about what we do, how we do it, and why we are proud of our work. On the same afternoon, I returned to my alma mater, Exeter University, to give a talk to final-year students about getting into a career in marketing, its pitfalls and pleasures.
To help prepare I asked people around The Real Adventure as well as a few clients past and present for their words of wisdom, advice to people looking to get into marketing. There were several comments that started “too many graduates…” which described how candidates often failed to meet our ever-higher expectations. As with many professions these days, entry-level marketing roles are heavily over-subscribed, and you need to stand out. I hope these five nuggets of advice help…
1 Immerse Yourself
“Open your eyes, watch ads, read, get involved. Ask yourself why brands are doing things…”
I used to use the analogy that Oddbins’ Store Managers loved wine and happened to work in a shop, whereas Thresher’s staff were shop-workers who happened to work in a place that sold wine. There’s a difference, and it really helps if you can demonstrate that. Be interested and interesting.
2 Have ideas and opinions of your own
It’s a common question that you should really be expecting: tell me about a brand you really admire, or whose marketing impresses you…
If I had a pound for every person who’s trotted out either Innocent or Apple (you know the rest)…
These may be iconic brands with a history of innovation, but is that really the best you’ve got? Something personal, something left-field, something surprising. Please.
3 Get some energy in the room
Maybe not in your first few weeks in the job, but certainly soon and then forever after, a key part of marketing is to sell your ideas and inspire people who don’t always agree with you. Whether you’re an agency responding to a tough brief or a brand manager selling in a new campaign to your bosses, you have to be positive and enthusiastic. Don’t recite text-book, prepared answers. Make us believe you.
4 Be active and aware
If a week was a long time in politics, a day can be a long time in the new digital world. If you’re applying for a role in (say) digital marketing or social media, you’d best be aware of what’s happening now. We want candidates to be personally active on social media; because if they’re not, or not aware of those channels, how will they be able to position themselves credibly as experts to our clients?
It’s easy to keep up-to-date: follow blogs or twitter feeds. Better still, get involved, participate, and learn.
5 There’s only one ‘P’ in Marketing – PEOPLE
Marketing is about understanding people. Think about who they are, what’s important to them, and why. This is equally true for understanding your brand’s target consumers as it is for you learning how to get the best out of your clients or agencies, or how to sell an idea to your Board of Directors. Be curious about people and how they build relationships with each other and with brands.
I’ll finish with a terrific commentary from an ex-client of The Real Adventure that almost made me want to stand up and cheer when I first read it. This is why we love doing what we’re doing.
It’s the most democratic career you can have … everyone starts at the bottom and does all the sh*t, learning the ropes, fighting to work with the best people on the best brands with the biggest budgets and most exciting projects.
But sometimes working on an old, unsupported brand where you can turn it around and leave your mark is more rewarding (even if it is harder work and much less sexy).
This is the most exciting time to work in marketing since the Don Draper days of the 1960s with the advent of TV advertising … this time it’s with digital, social and mobile.
We can now talk to people directly in real time and need to use even more persuasive means to get them to engage with brands.