Saint John’s Career Night 2015

On March 9th, 2015 I was invited to speak with rising juniors at Saint John’s High School in Shrewsbury, MA on the subject of marketing careers. Here are notes from my conversation with the students.

What is Marketing?

Marketing is a management process through which goods and services move from concept (The Big Idea!) to the customer. It’s a well coordinated business process of promoting the product or service and includes activities of marketing research and advertising.

Marketing is not sales; sales is a separate business process that focuses on using techniques to get people to buy from you (the actual exchange of money for goods and services).

The goal of a marketer is to create demand for their product or service. There are a variety of things in the marketing mix (The 4 P’s:  Product, Price, Promotion and Place [distribution]).

Decision:  To Market Products or Services?

Upon starting a career in marketing you’ll make the decision to specialize in Product Marketing (Timberland Boots, Gatorade, iPhone, Old Spice, Doritos) or Service Marketing (Hotels & Tourism, Insurance, Accounting Services, Legal Services, Architectural Services).

You’ll hear the terms B2B and B2C a lot. B2B is what when a company is marketing a product or service to another business. For example, a human resources consulting firm that provides HR services to other companies is a B2B. Compare that with B2C that sells directly to the consumer. For example a hummus company that is selling their hummus products to you the consumer in the grocery store.

How the World Wide Web [WWW] Changed Marketing Forever in the Mid 90’s

The commercialization of the Web [the global information medium where users and read and write via computers] happened in the mid 90’s right around when you were born.

It disrupted the marketing model (but in a good way)!
Pre-Web Distribution Channels – The “Mad Men” Era’s Toolkit

Traditional Marketing (Publications like newspapers, journals, magazines), Radio, Television, Billboards, Telephones, US Postal Service, Face to Face.

Today’s Powerful Post Web Distribution Channels

Websites & Blogs, Social Media Platforms, Email Marketing, Mobile Marketing, Search, Video Marketing

Before the Web, brands had more power than they do today. There was very little noise, distraction or challenge to a company’s core messaging.

Today the Web gives consumers increased access to powerful  information, like product and service reviews. Now people like you and me have the opportunity to find out what huge volumes of other consumers “like them” think about the products and services they may want to buy through places like TripAdvisor, Yelp, Angies List, Amazon Reviews and more.

Today the VOICE OF THE CUSTOMER has become the most important influencer in a product or service decision. This means marketers need to be extremely good listeners. Characteristics of modern day marketing practices include:

  • A Shift from Monologue to Dialogue between brands and buyers.
  • Increased Expectations of Brand Transparency
  • Word of Mouth Spreads like Wildfire Worldwide
  • The “Collective Wisdom of the Crowd” Dominates Consumer Decision Making

We’ve transitioned from a marketing model of ‘Hype” to “Help”. Today marketers spend time on:

  • Relationship Marketing & Showing Our Value (we can’t  just say it / claim it…. we are required to provide “Social Proof” that what we say about our products and services is true.)
  • Providing Helpful Content in social media that never sells but rather helps our Target Audience.
  • Living in a “real time/ Twitter world” where expectations of response time is very high. This has brought about the need for 24/7 online brand monitoring programs among other new marketing activities.

Indicators That Marketing Might Be Right For You!

#1. You’re Good At Homework

Market research is like homework. A big part of a marketer’s job is studying, researching and analyzing market opportunities.We must understand the competitive landscape, conduct quantitative analysis on the size of a market and organize focus groups and market studies.

#2. You Enjoy Technology & Innovation

When it comes to new social media platforms, marketers love getting right in there to learn how new stuff works. You’re excited about new products and services, and might be what we call an “early adopter”. As a marketer you must be on top of new channels of communication that emerge, teach yourself the ins and outs & then based on your experience, determine which channels are the best way to reach your target audience.

#3. You’re More Extrovert than Introvert: A Real “People Person”

Marketers are the brand champion of their product or service, so you need to enjoy leading and inspiring groups of specialists (Designers, Developers, Media People, Event Managers etc..) to get the job done, the strategy implemented and the campaign off the ground.

#4.  You’ve Got a Creative Side

Marketers today are brand storytellers and it’s our job to create compelling content, both written and visual, that will create an emotive response from the audience we want to reach. Writing for the Web (Brand Journalism) is not like writing a high school term paper. You’ll enjoy writing for the Web and working with creative media like videographers, photographers and more to help you tell your brand story.

 #5. You’re a Born Competitor

Marketing is a competitive sport! It includes understanding the competitive landscape for your product or service and knowing what makes you special. Marketers need to communicate what makes your product/service special – why should your target market buy your product/service over the competition? The marketplace is a noisy place and the challenge is to differentiate yourself! For example, will you be the most premium, the lowest price, or offer the best service? These are are all decisions that feed into your marketing strategy.

Your goal is to drive demand for what you offer and capture market share. When you win, you’ve taken a chunk out of your competitor’s sales pie. Consider the product management teams of Coke and Pepsi and how they go head to head in a worldwide battle for cola sales everyday! It’s rather exciting. Sportsmanship and playing on a competitive basketball team was some of the best training I got for thriving in business, where you need to cope with loss and setbacks, but always emerging stronger and wiser for the next competition.

5 Calls to Action [CTA’s]

  • Get Hands-On with Technology:  The world wide web includes many marketing channels, so it benefits you to understand how they work. Take a web development class, study graphic design, or learn how to write code/html (the language of the Internet). These are terrific skills to develop because you will managing team members who are in charge of these functions someday.
  • Write, Write, Write!  Gain experience writing content for an audience you want to build a relationship with, perhaps the school newspaper, your church’s website, or a community blog. Learning how to write for the Web and work in calls to action to engage an audience. When you are writing, ask yourself – what do I want people to do after they read this piece? Then work in a call to action that drives this behavior.
  • Stay Current on Social Media The existing platforms are constantly changing and new ones are emerging daily. A great resource is the social media examiner which is an online resource for marketers. Their podcasts are excellent. I listen to them in the car and while exercising. It’s how I keep up with the dynamic world of social media news, which is part of a marketer’s job.
  • Watch Shark Tank. Each show is an opportunity to see a series of case studies on how a new company has launched or wants to launch a product or service. Look at each business with a critical eye:  did they do their homework? did they price it right? Does their packaging and brand identity (company name, tag line, colors etc..) make sense for who they are trying to reach? Have they chosen the correct distribution channels to reach their target market? Consider yourself Mr. Wonderful and critique these businesses for yourself. It will train you to have a marketing mindset.
  • YOU are a brand; Start Building Your Brand Today. It’s time to Optimize YOU. If you want a company to take you seriously as a marketer, you need to demonstrate that you can market yourself. The resume today is a relic of the past. Buy your on the web and secure this lifelong digital asset. Look into building yourself a 1-page website (maybe this could be a project in a Web Design class?). People will Google you. What are they going to see? You can positively influence others (employers, investors, partners etc..) by building a strong online reputation. You’re all digital natives and have been doing this for years on Facebook. You’ve had an audience of “friends” which you have been cultivating content for for years. Now its time to mature and shift your attention to a wider audience:  the workplace! Begin to cultivate and aggregate content that tells the story of your professional career goals and what you have to offer the world that is special about you. Be able to answer the question:  Why should someone hire you and not the other job candidate? Collect endorsements from your bosses and feature them on your website and LinkedIn profile (secure your vanity url domain on LinkedIn – its free!). If you do, you will establish a track record of accomplishment that will give you the brand lift and competitive advantage with which to launch an exciting and fulfilling career in marketing.

Any questions? It starts with a conversation. Call me! 978 460 1157 ~ Ann

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