Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Become an Expert and Get a Job in Marketing

How do you get good at marketing, social media, SEO, web usability analysis, and ecommerce?

Personally, I am not real big on formal education for advertising and marketing, but that's because I've forged my own path. I studied English literature and sociology in college.

By the time new business, advertising, and marketing methods and concepts reach a university, they've accumulated accretions of bad practice, hyperbole, and misconception. It's easy for academics to theorize and speculate, without much real world experience.

All my training and expertise in marketing comes from applying principles of poetics, semiotics, ethnomethodogly, deconstruction, and psychoanalysis to the realm of business communications. I got my first job in marketing based solely on my writing ability and enthusiasm for advertising.

At the time, I was working at Hiram Walker and Pabst on the weekends. But I had been subscribing to Advertising Age magazine and reading every book I could find in libraries and book stores on the topic of sales, advertising, and marketing.

I created some speculative print ads, put them in a portfolio, along with samples of my short stories and other writings, and managed to get an interview at a local marketing company. The first place I went to hired me.

I have also attended industry seminars sponsored by reputable corporations or trade associations. My real foundation is both personal study and practical experience working for companies like Ruppman Marketing Serivces, Troy Bilt, Scholastic, Wall Street Transcript, American Banker, and Grey Advertising.

Master marketing by practicing it for companies. Get as much insight and information as you can, then do some speculative work for a business or product that you love.

Design a print ad for a perfume or musical instrument or restaurant that you like and use. 

Develop a marketing campaign for a favorite rock band. Create a promotional video for a brand you're crazy about. Do something that shows you have some genius and passion.

Also be relentlessly paying attention to the blogs, videos, podcasts, and forums and websites devoted to the field, along with books like:

"Positioning" by Al Ries and Jack Trout
"Gonzo Marketing" by Christopher Locke
"Net Words: Creating High-Impact Online Copy" by Nick Usborne
"Designing Web Usability" by Jakob Nielsen
"Free Prize Inside" by Seth Godin
"Kellogg on Marketing" edited by Dawn Iacobucci
"The Origin of Brands" by Al and Laura Ries
"The Cluetrain Manifesto" by Doc Searls, et al
"Naked Conversatons" by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel
"Talent" by Tom Peters
"Small Town Rules" by Barry J. Moltz and Becky McCray
"Customer Centered Selling" by Robert L. Joles
"Credibility" by James Kouzes and Barry Pozner
"Mobile Marketing" by Cindy Krum
"New Rules of Marketing and PR" by David Meerman Scott
"F'd Companies" by Philip J. Kaplan
"505 Unbelievably Stupid Web Pages" by Dan Crowley
"Social Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman
"Guerilla Social Media Marketing" by Jay Conrad Levinson

Plus any classic books on advertising and by Tom Peters, Seth Godin, Peter Drucker, W. Edwards Deming.

Be cautious when it comes to buying books. There are tons of books out now on "social media marketing" and many of them are garbage, just rehashing the same ideas over and over again, or blabbering about a bunch of nonsense. Examine books on "social marketing ROI" if you want a good laugh. On and on they go, never really saying much in most cases.

Learn as much as you can about sales, psychology, web usability, SEO, online writing, direct mail, quality assurance methods, semiotics, sociology, deconstruction, art, design, web design, and other things of this nature, for they all intersect with what you're doing in marketing.

Just when I was feeling like I had learned it all, and was getting rather bored with marketing, along came the internet and websites. Suddenly a whole new world opened up to me, and so far, I have not approached anything like the end of it.

While I have shifted from social media marketing to SEO, I see no end to the intricacies and opportunities of the online realm.

So we must keep studying, thinking, implementing, and learning. You can never think you know it all, or know enough. You must be obsessed and keep on growing and knowing, more and more, and that's how you stay valuable in your field and worthy of ever-increasing pay.


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