This summer I devoted myself to honing my skills and learning the vast unknown of marketing. I decided to not pursue any internships or jobs. I thought it more beneficial to learn marketing by studying and applying what I learned on my own.
It was a gamble and a little hard, especially when all my peers went off to their internships or jobs with Google, Deloitte, EY, and other big companies. It has been almost 2 months and the following documents what I have learned during that time.
This is made especially for those who are just entering into the world of marketing and don’t really know what is going on.
1. Social Media can be all the schooling you need.
I use to think that in the online sphere, there was only so much you could learn. Why would anyone teach other people how to do their job?
I figured out during finals week of the Spring semester that I was completely wrong. When it came to study for my Market Research class, I found myself a little screwed. We had no textbook and also a complicated software, SPSS, that we were going to be tested on.
Beyond the software intricacies, there were algorithms, formulas, and processes that you had to understand in order to properly manipulate the data. Of course, like any college student, I could not for the life of me remember anything the professor talked about all semester.
Thus I decided to see if YouTube might have any videos. I was happily surprised. There were hundreds! Within 3 days I learned more than we did in the entire semester and when the final came around I was good to go.
After this experience, I told myself, if there were videos online teaching topics even about high powered, expensive software then I definitely can expand my knowledge of marketing on my own. So for the last two months, with the help of Twitter, YouTube, and tons of books I have exponentially grown my comfort ability and confidence in Marketing.
If you want any recommendations for people to follow, message me and I can give you a list.
2. Marketing is too Inter-Connected to just know One section
I am a huge basketball junkie. I watch, play, read, and train basketball. So for this section I am going to use Basketball as a comparison.
Throughout my educational career, especially my college years, my peers have continually explained to me it is pointless to know everything, just know one thing. With that being said, I disagree with that statement.
Marketing is a vast network of many trades that are extremely different and intricate. There is the coding side of Web Design and SEO, the analytics side of Market Research, and creative side of Campaign Creation. However, they are not so different that they should be taken in isolation. [Here is where the basketball analogy starts] There is a saying in the NBA, that the minimum to get into the NBA is to be a shooter. Every team needs a shooter.
I thought about that statement and I've realized that it holds true if you want to reach the bare minimum. If your a shooter, you have to rely on other players to get you open, to get you the ball, to get the rebound, and to play defense. If all you can do is shoot, pretty much you won’t be playing much. The best players and even just the role players have AT LEAST 2 — 3 skills.
When we take a look at players like Kobe and LeBron, they are widely seen as the top two players in our generation. These two can shoot, dribble, rebound, command teammates, pass the ball, and play defense. Though it might seem unfair to compare to the two most iconic players in the league, they are the most recognizable and appropriate for the comparison. However, the hundreds of other players who make it to the NBA are required to have all these talents as well. To think you can make it to the highest stage by only knowing one skill, you won’t make it. So if you want to be great at what you do, you better start learning multiple marketing disciplines.*
That being said though, what you will be happy to know, once you learn more and more of the different areas of marketing, it becomes easier and easier to learn. Everything is so interrelated that the time it takes to grasp concepts is much quicker.
*In a future post I will explain the inter-connectedness in further detail
3. Social Media isn't the future, it’s Content Marketing
Content Marketing is a concept that really is not new, it just finally has a term associated with it. Content Marketing is essentially publishing and marketing information, facts, stories, and anything people generally find interesting.
Every business does it, but how effective a certain business varies widely.
My favorite example, is the LEGO Company. LEGO’s lost their patent in the late 80's and yet many companies have tried to jump in on the success of these building blocks, but none have really gained any ground. Why is this?
The reason is because LEGOs does an amazing job with its content marketing. Each LEGO set has a story, a contextual connection with other LEGO sets. The company enhances the experience by immersing the user with the exciting content that is associated with it’s products. This includes the LEGO movie, Star Wars and other partnerships, and the overall theme that each LEGO is made in conjunction with.
This is where many businesses go wrong. They feel that Social Media is the future and though it does have a lot of upside, if you don’t properly create a content strategy, you might as well ditch the Facebook/Social Media strategy. Businesses must first create interesting content that pertains to their business, THEN they can start posting.
Social Media is simply a channel, Content Marketing is the actual message. Make sure you have your message before you start talking.
If you want to know more about Content Marketing, I recommend looking up CopyBlogger, NewsCred, and to buy the book Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi.
I've really been at this marketing game for about 2 years now, but I am obsessed with it. I have not had this much obsession since I first started playing basketball 8 years ago.
I hope that this post and the ones after can help those who are just like me and just trying to learn about marketing and it’s craziness.