Roni Krakover

Archive - October 2016

Should you work in Marketing? 11 simple points to help you decide

should i work in marketing

In a Marketing Strategy class I took a few years ago, we had to write our personal definition of marketing on a piece of paper. Then we passed it to the person sitting to the right, so each student got a piece of paper with someone else’s definition and wrote her comments on that definition. By the end of the class, each student got back the paper with her definition, plus about 10 comments.

My definition of marketing was: “Marketing is communication with a purpose.” Pretty much everybody criticized it for being too broad.

It’s broad, but…marketing is broad! When a presidential candidate is speaking to an audience, he or she is marketing. When I’m trying to convince you to join me at a party, I am marketing. When you’re looking for a job, you are marketing yourself.

Marketing is a huge, broad concept. Broadness is one of the best things marketing has to offer. But let’s take a look at some other pros and cons:

The good stuff

  1. There is always more to learn. Things in marketing change all the time. You will get a chance to experience industries and practices you never knew existed, and your job will be a springboard for personal growth.
  2. There is room for creativity. People often choose a marketing career because it offers opportunities for creativity. Whether it’s devising a strategy for a campaign, composing interesting tweets, or designing the company logo, your creative juices will get a chance to flow.
  3. Marketing is multidisciplinary. It includes a lot of psychology, but also economics; design, but also data. You can employ psychological theories to analyze what drives customers’ purchasing decisions. Alternatively, you can put all the data into equations of supply and demand or compare pricing schemes and price promotions of a competing product.
  4. Marketing can fit any personality type. Are you the analytical type? You’re sure to find marketing jobs in which you plug numbers into an Excel spreadsheet and write formulas to devise a marketing strategy. Are you the artistic type? You can find a company that needs to redesign their website, flyers, business cards, or logo. Are you a “people person?” You can become a community manager, organize events, or mingle at other events where you can be the public face of your company.
  5. You can always find an industry you are interested in. Think of your favorite products, and look for an opportunity to market those products. You can be in consumer electronics, education, politics, nonprofits, cosmetics, and more. That way, you get to spend the entire day dealing with a product you like and mingling with people who share your interests.
  6. Marketing will never die. Remember the milkman? There are no more milkmen in developed countries. But marketers are here to stay, as long as they stay sharp and evolve all the time.
  7. You can influence the world in a good way. This is my favorite aspect of marketing. A lot of marketing out there is admittedly sleazy, but you don’t have to be a part of that. To promote their products, some marketers will try to instill conscious or subconscious fear in potential customers. Some may inflate crime figures to scare potential customers into purchasing a home alarm system. But if you’re brave and willing to take the risk, you can try to influence the marketing campaigns to employ more reputable marketing techniques. You can suggest that the campaign take into account its effect on the population as well as the monetary value of the products it sells. As a marketer, you can provide your audience with information presented in the most digestible and truthful way, without instilling fear or diminishing their dignity or self-esteem.
  8. You can create value. As a marketer, you often get inputs from your customers, either by market research or by listening to their comments and requests. Thus, you can and should try to influence the product department of your company to make products that best fit the customers’ needs.

The bad – potential drawbacks

If you are considering several different paths, make sure to consider the potential drawbacks of each. (Every career/job choice has its own potential drawbacks.) Here are the potential drawbacks of marketing that I can think of.

  1. The job market in some cities is flooded with marketers. I have noticed that many North American cities are flooded with tons of marketing professionals looking for jobs right now. There are no real barriers of entry such as a degree or diploma. Unlike accounting, law, and engineering, no lengthy studies or specific credentials are required to work in marketing. From what I’ve seen, there is no correlation between majoring in marketing in college and being a good marketer. In addition, marketing is shifting more and more toward online and social media. 16-year-old kids with active Twitter accounts may end up being better marketers than an adult with an MBA in marketing. This flood of marketers also tends to lower the wages.
  2. Even if the product isn’t good enough, you’re still responsible for marketing it. The world isn’t impressed by a marketer who claims, “I did a great marketing job! It’s the product that sucks!” It is very hard to move on to the next marketing job after trying and failing to market an inferior product.
  3. It is not always easy to be true to yourself. Sometimes, the problem goes beyond a “not good enough” product and into the realm of ethics. Some people market online gambling, get-rich-quick schemes, “magic” diet pills, etc. The people I know who market these products don’t think of themselves as evil people; it’s just a matter of their values at a particular point in time. Sometimes in life, your strongest value is to get ahead; at other times, bringing positive value to others becomes your main concern. If you are at the stage of your life at which you are more concerned with bringing something positive into the world, you might have to reject some marketing jobs.

Well these are some points I can think of. It might seem skewed towards the positive since there are more points supporting the “for” vs the “against. I do think that marketing can be a great job choice for you, as long as you are true to yourself and don’t compromise your values.

Getting a job in marketing: position yourself as a content creator

content-creation

Today, in the “content era,” many companies are aware of the need to create valuable content for their customers. If you have a track record of creating a lot of high-quality content, you will get a bonus point for any marketing job you apply to. If creating content appeals to you, start creating videos, articles, podcasts, etc. It is okay to leverage the same content across a few different media. You can write an article on a topic, then shoot a video about it, then record a podcast on it.

Remember that shooting a video or recording a podcast isn’t just about reading your article aloud. Even if you write in a conversational tone, the language you use in a podcast or video will be different.

Also remember that video is visual. If all you’re planning to do is record yourself talking, skip the video. Unless you are extremely charismatic or good-looking, people expect to see more in a video than just your face. Include interesting screenshots or images of what you’re talking about, or make a video tutorial that records what you’re doing.

Getting your articles published

Part of positioning yourself as a content creator is publishing articles in reputable publications, such as leading magazines and blogs. It’s not easy to do. But if you can get an article published in a major publication, your position as an expert will take a quantum leap, and you can expect a significant increase in your perceived value as a potential employee.

The way to do this is to identify a relevant publication and get a sense of what they write about and how: the length of the articles, formats, and tone (conversational or formal). You can pitch an idea to the editors before you’ve written about it. However, it’s easier to pitch a finished article for online media.

Note: A relevant publication is not necessarily one that’s your favorite, but one that your potential employers read. This could be a publication related to marketing, to a particular industry, to management and business, or to lifestyles and hobbies.

Here are a few lists of trade magazines you can try to get an article into.

Some tips on how to write for trade magazines (and get paid for it!) may be found here.

What to write about

Writing about marketing is obviously great if you’re trying to get a job in marketing. As I mentioned, if you’re looking to work in a specific industry, try to publish in a magazine that is read by executives in that industry. For example, say you want to move to find a job in the natural resources industry in Canada. You could try to publish an article in a trade magazine about energy, such as Oilweek: Canada’s Oil and Gas Authority. (I just found this now using Google. I trust that if this is the industry you’re aiming at, you will do a better search.)

If you do decide to write about marketing, here are some topics you can write about. Make sure you are specific and to the point, bringing something new to the table.

  • Analytics
  • B2B marketing strategy
  • B2C marketing strategy
  • Branding
  • Competitive analysis
  • Copywriting
  • E-commerce
  • Email campaigns
  • Event planning
  • Facebook (or Google, or other) advertising
  • Marketing an app
  • Marketing automation
  • Positioning
  • Product naming
  • Sales funnel optimization
  • Social media strategies
  • Trade shows
  • Upselling and cross-selling

 

How to create a blog to support your job search

Photo credit - Scott Webb https://unsplash.com/@scottwebb

A blog / personals site /portfolio can be a great way to showcase who you are and what you can do. When a job applicant sends me a link to his or her personal blog or website, that is always the first thing I look at. It is a key factor in my decision whether to grant that person an interview. A blog works great for marketing professionals; a portfolio is a must for creative and design professionals; and a gitHub repository with code is important for developers.

We’ll focus on blogs in this article. If you want your blog to speak for you during your job search, it has to be good. Here’s how to make it good:

  1. Choose a platform that will make it easy for you to publish regularly. I recommend WordPress; it has a bit of a learning curve, but it’s a great platform. Blogger is also nice, and these days Medium has become very popular, especially for the high tech industry.
  2. Invest in graphics. If you think you’re good with graphic design, you can try to do it yourself, but make sure you show it to at least two critical people who will give you their honest opinion. Otherwise, here are some low-cost options for professional design:
    1. Go to fiverr.com. Under Graphics & Design, select Web Design & UI. You will see offers from freelancers willing to design your site for as little as five dollars. You can also use the search box to search for “WordPress,” “blog,” and so on.
    2. When you communicate with people on fiverr.com, you need to be prepared to specify exactly what you want, so have your WordPress site all set (even if it looks ugly) before you approach them.
    3. Don’t expect the best quality for these prices. If you have a design budget, you can find designers who will do an awesome job for about $80 and up on sites such as elance.com and odesk.com. As with fiverr.com, you are outsourcing, so clear communication is super important. Not all contractors on those sites have strong communication skills (particularly in English), but you can explicitly request a designer with native English skills. It might be worth investing $200 on one of these sites to work with someone whom you can communicate well with.
    4. You can get beautiful WordPress themes for free and some advanced themes for $35 and up. These will give you a great basic design that you can then play with and tailor to your needs.
  3. Buy your own domain name and hosting plan. A custom domain looks more professional than a free domain. Check out com/job-resources/ for links to domain registrars and hosting plans.
  4. Once you have the design of your website in place, fill it with content. Write a few blog posts. Don’t send a link to recruiters or include it in your resume or LinkedIn profile until there are at least ten blog posts.
  5. The blog has to appear active. It doesn’t look good if the last post is six months old. If this is the case, customize your blog to not display any dates.
  6. Blog about something you’re passionate about and have a lot to say about. For example, if you’re looking for a job in marketing and want to position yourself as a marketing expert, blogging about marketing is a great option, but it’s not necessary. An employer will judge your site by the quality of the writing, the design, and your brand, rather than by the actual content. It is always easier to present a great brand if you write about something that you’re passionate about, rather than trying to force yourself to write about what you think he should be writing about. What you want the interviewers to feel when they look at your blog or personal website is, “Wow, can she do this for me?”
  7. Not a must, but sure looks good – try to get comments on your blog and start a lively conversation around your posts. You can get help from your friends to initiate the conversation, as long as it doesn’t look fake.
  8. Have a great About page. Take as much time as necessary to make it great. A potential employer will definitely look at your website if you provide a link, and you can be sure he or she will go to the About page at some point. In fact, I will personally read a job applicant’s entire About page, no matter how long it is. When used wisely, the About page can give you a great advantage. It gives you a chance to share content that does not fit in a resume or cover letter: personal stuff, images of you volunteering, the names of your favorite books and blogs, and more. The hiring manager is hiring a person, not just a set of skills and qualifications, so the About page is a great opportunity.
  9. Spend some time on SEO. If your site ranks high on certain keywords, you might get surprising opportunities from traffic arriving through search engines.

Remember: creating a great blog takes time, it’s an investment. But so is sending a lot of resumes. A great blog can definitely take your career/job search one step forward. So get to work on your blog and feel free to put links to your blogs in the comments below!