Thursday, May 1, 2014

Life Altering Views [from a Decade in Marketing]



As kids, I don't think most of us think, "I want to go into marketing when I grow up!" The go-to jobs are doctors and lawyers, ballerinas, teachers and police. The list could go on. 

But at some point, each person whom has fought his or her way into the marketing sphere - and stuck it out for a decade or more - fell in love with the career. I honestly believe to truly excel in marketing, you have to love marketing for marketing's sake. Whether you are marketing to raise funds for children in a non-profit, or selling software to accountants, you have to love what you do. 

When you love marketing and make it your life's work, it changes you. Maybe it's the new quantity of grey hairs sprouting from my head, but recently I started to reflect on how a life of marketing has altered my views and actions. Here are my top marketing-induced life altering views:
  1. I publish more positive reviews for companies in my personal life. We all know it is easy to post a review when you are scathing mad, but takes more work to post a shining review when something makes you happy. Great reviews help brand management, and can make my day. Seeing a new review come in raving about our team sets my day a glow with rose tinted shades. Understanding what it does for me, I now have sympathy for fellow marketers and have grown to post as many positive reviews as I can to hopefully help make some other marketer's day. 
  2. When something does go wrong, I have poor customer service, or a product fails, I know how to push the right buttons. Okay, internally in my company, people joke about this with me. When we talk about our customer service and how we handle issues, the executive team always likes to point out, "If this had happened to Lindsey, you know she'd be all over our Facebook page and telling all of her friends." We can debate the morals of this later, but truth be told, every good marketer understands how and where to approach any company to get the best outcome. You learn from the haters of your own work what motivates a company to change your outcome, and what gets tossed in the circular file. 
  3. I take a LOT more surveys. Before I started my career in marketing, I thought all of those customer-satisfaction surveys were a farce; no one actually read them and no one cared, so why take them? Being on the flip side of the coin, I now appreciate every survey request I get. I'm naturally inclined to pause, decide if I have time, and try to give honest feedback to each survey I can. 
  4. I love technology, and I have to love it. Okay, so maybe I have always been a closet techie geek, but learning HTML, staying on top of the latest in mobile, understanding the nuances between Apple, PC and Android are vital to the success of my career. And really, who learns and retains anything they don't love or find interesting? 
  5. I'm good at crisis-mode. Now, I know a lot of other careers would like to jump in here. Marketing is not a high-pressure-life-or-death job. It isn't even a high-pressure-commission-only-sell-or-starve career. The beauty of a career in marketing is it changes everyday, and every minute of everyday. It isn't mundane. But the catch-22 there is that it isn't mundane. Everyone comes at you in a "top-urgency-you-must-put-out-this-fire" way. Technology, trends and strategies are constantly changing and need to be changed on the fly. Marketers have to wear a lot of hat and be able to change quickly, while putting out fifteen other fires. 
  6. Even the most obscure jobs can fall to marketing, and that is a good thing. We need new uniforms? Oh, that's marketing's job. The server crashed and website imploded? Call marketing first. President of the company needs a presentation for his kid's career day at school? Marketing can help. When I first started into marketing, I was bitter and cynical about the odd jobs requested of marketing that I thought were below the position. Now, I wear it as a badge of honor that so many people within a company think the marketing department is so talented, we can do everything. 
  7. I read as many billboards as I can. Okay, so maybe this is to dissect what works and what doesn't, and to help with new creative ideas, but what I used to view as obnoxious clutter on the highways, I now study like a college lit class. 
  8. I take notes on the commercials in the Superbowl. That's right. I actually take notes now on every commercial that airs during the Superbowl. I'm a soccer/hockey fan and could care less about football. Many years I'm not even sure who is going to be in the Superbowl. But I drudge through the game [I never used to watch] to get to the commercials. 
  9. What you don't know can hurt you. We may not be in the service department, but marketers touch every aspect of a company. We are on the front lines of customer service, maintaining our brand reputation. We have to know what changes are coming within the company to plan, campaign and broadcast. We have to know employee sentiments, what departments are succeeding and which are failing. We have to understand the customer experience from first meeting until final purchase. To do this, I have learned you have to make friends in every department, you have to actually know your customers, and you have to have a "pulse" on your company which goes beyond public knowledge. Without that deeper understanding and reading between the lines, you can get blindsided quickly. 
  10. Much of marketing is more art than science, but I have to embrace the science. There is no golden rule to the correct way to market. Success often comes from intuitive moves and being an "artist" of the field. But, most people don't really get marketing. They don't understand what I do everyday or why certain projects take so long. Skeptics abound. Budgets and costs are misunderstood. My work is questioned. And, that simple fact is why I learned to embrace the science. Statistical data, case studies, focus groups, reporting and tracking are the ways you prove your worth and your marketing budget. I may love the intuitive, on-the-fly approach, but if I don't embrace the reports that track my success, no one else will embrace my marketing. 
Marketing, to me, is so much more than a job. It's a passion and a lifestyle; one I did not expect when I was a child, but can't imagine any other way now. 

 What life altering views do you have from years in marketing? 

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 photo credit: anissat on morgueFile

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