A friend recently approached me to ask if I would like to share some experience so far of the working life. He is starting a Facebook group for students because he saw that many college students are not sure what is expected of them when they first start out.
I thought it was a brilliant idea as I had the same insight and intention when I started to write about Marketing as well. Through the years, I am glad to hear that some people have benefitted from what has been written, and I truly hope that more people can come to learn more and love Marketing.
Here are some of the questions that were asked, and my responses. If you are still a student or starting out and thinking of making a shift into marketing, I hope these responses will be of help to you. Feel free to ask me questions if you have any!
Current Role (field) and years of experience to date:
Marketing in Financial Services sector for 1.5 years
Marketing Analytics in Mondelēz, Consumer Insights in Estée Lauder,
What is the responsibility of your job? (In 3 sentences or less)
My main responsibilities include running marketing campaigns to communicate the products and services of my company to both business clients and consumers. I am also in charge of the day-to-day operations of our marketing channels such as social media and websites.
How is your day-to-day work like?
Day-to-day work differs significantly within a campaign and outside of it.
During a campaign, the majority of my time is spent ensuring the smooth execution of it. A lot of the work involves project management and stakeholder management to make sure that my agencies execute according to strategy. There is also a lot of alignment needed between the company and our agencies to make sure that there are no misinterpretations or miscommunication of goals. During this time, the work that I do can get very nitty-gritty, even down to how a piece of copy is written and whether it sends the right message to consumers or clients.
The work I do can get very nitty-gritty, even down to how a piece of copy is written..
Outside of a campaign, we strategize and plan for upcoming activities while maintaining our owned assets. For example, I will work with my digital agency to map out the content calendar for what we will communicate over our social media channels, taking into consideration what makes sense for the business.
There is also an administrative aspect to marketing, where we have to draw up business cases to justify why certain activities have or should be done this year, and how much budget is required. Of course, my team would also be in charge of budgeting to ensure that we deliver against our objectives within cost.
Your experiences, where has it taken you, what is your most memorable/best experience?
My most memorable and rewarding experiences would be when I see my campaign out on the streets, and the response that consumers have when a campaign is live. There is an immense and indescribable pride in seeing something you have worked hard at come to life and other people enjoying your concept. To me, that is the most important thing in marketing – for people to get what you are trying to do.
What are the common fallacies/misconceptions about the industry?
The most common misconception that I hear undergraduates talk about would be the expectation that the work should be all “strategy”. By this, I mean that people tend to think that marketing should be about macro view of how to sell a certain product, how to price things, etc. That is probably because the universities tend to teach the 4Ps (i.e. Product, Price, Promotion, Place) in Marketing for students to get a conceptual understanding of what the function is about.
…the truth is that [a lot of strategy] would already have been decided.
However, the truth is that most of these would already have been decided when you enter your role. A change in price, distribution or product attributes is a major change requiring approvals and coordination across the industry. In other words, fresh graduates would rarely have the opportunity to do this. Instead, marketing tends to be focused on the Promotional aspect of things – advertising, promotion mechanics, etc. This is not a bad thing. There is a lot to do even if we are just addressing one pillar. But you should adjust your expectations and find out where you can best add value to you role.
What is needed to succeed? (Example skills set, personality traits, commitment/ hours, qualification)
As marketing tends to involve a lot of stakeholders, both internal and external, good communication skills are crucial. It is also important for you to have good interpersonal skills to convince upper management and your agencies to help you actualize your campaign.
From an administrative standpoint, you will also need to be meticulous and willing to put in the effort to get the budgets and plans right.
A real bonus would be intellectual curiosity and a desire to understand the business side of things. There is a perception that marketing is all fluff and creativity, but a good marketer needs to be able to handle numbers well and understand what makes sense for your business. The best creative will not help you much if you don’t understand what you are selling.
What are the difficulties that you face?
The key difficulty in marketing would be getting good alignment with the business and communicating your vision to your agency. Coming into the corporate world, you would come to realize that everyone has competing priorities, objectives and agendas. Marketers would have to sieve through all of that and drill down to what is the important aspects to communicate since we have limited advertising and marketing budgets.
Once you pass the internal round, it then comes to how you can explain your business context to your agency partners and get them to help you solve the business communication problem in a creative way. Most of the time, agencies would be in sync, having been on your account for a long time. However, sometimes it takes a lot of convincing since they might not have the same considerations as you do, given that they are not in the business and do not see what you see.
What do you learn/ what do you gain/ what do you get out of this job you can’t find anywhere else?
The key thrill of marketing is the satisfaction of seeing your plans come to life in a short amount of time. There are things that you can truly own and say came from you, rather than just being a cog in a gigantic corporate machine. In a sense, there is an element of near-instant satisfaction.
The key thrill of marketing is the satisfaction of seeing your plans come to life.
Marketing has also advanced in such a way that there is a very tangible way of measuring the success of your campaign against business metrics. You will come out of a marketing career being savvy and at the cutting edge of latest media technologies.
What is your advice? What do you wish people told you when you first started?
Be willing to work hard for your goals. Put in that extra effort to learn more outside of your comfort zone and you will be better for it.
Marketing is not just about marketing, it is also about business. Therefore, take the effort to learn more about how your business works, and your marketing skills will be better for it.
Also, learn as much as you can about emerging digital technologies and think of how you can apply them to your work. This will allow you to stay relevant to your consumers.
Are you passionate about marketing as well and would like to find out more about what it’s like to work in Marketing? I would love to connect. Drop me a note in the comments below, subscribe, or simply follow me on Facebook or LinkedIn.