13 Lessons I Learned As An Entry-Level Marketer

The inspiration for this piece came from Ian Lurie’s amusing article, 38 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started In Marketing.  He’s a guy with over a decade of experience in marketing; I’m just finishing up my first post-college job.  Clearly, he has some lessons that I have yet to learn, so it’s well worth a read for those of you in the business of marketing.

I entered university convinced that I would one day become ambassador to a swanky European country.  I left university with a Master’s degree in international relations and the realization that testing the waters of the private sector was really more my thing.

In 2006 I moved up to New Jersey from the DC-area and got a call about an executive assistant position that needed to be filled at an enterprise software company.  Within a month of holding that position, I had wedged myself into the fledgling marketing team.  Two years on, I am preparing to leave this position for a new opportunity, and I will take with me everything I learned in this tumultuous start-up environment.

1. Everybody has a different definition of marketing.  Some say it’s the promotion of a company’s goods or services; others maintain that it includes the “processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers.”  But fixating on the definition of marketing doesn’t mean you’re actually doing anything.

2. Marketing jargon, while thrown back and forth between marketeers with undeniable enthusiasm, is misused and misunderstood more often than not.  For those of you who have no idea what I mean by “marketing jargon,” Michael Bloch at TamingTheBeast.net provides an example:

“Through an inverted dynamic and proactive CRM process,  we are a best of breed online company – a goal-directed, innovative digital firm which fast tracks cyber stickiness through turnkey solutions that guarantee targeted eyeballs using multiple streaming channels and viral e-services, providing the best ROI on your media spend.”

3. Using two monitors instead of one is the best decision I ever made, especially where collecting data and doing graphic design are concerned.

4. Work for a start-up, and not only will you get to wear jeans every day and blast music in the office, but you’ll also get to go for beers on occasion with the C-level executive team.  Where else would you get that opportunity?

5. If you can’t sell a ‘new media’ idea to your old-school boss, continue to slip it into conversation wherever possible.  Eventually, it will stick.  Or, it will become so ingrained in their minds that they’ll shout it out at an executive meeting and get the credit for it.  Either way, your idea will be put into place.

6. Don’t be the sole administrator for a CRM system for longer than six months.  If you are, be aware that training a new person to take over, who has never used the system before, is a bit of an overwhelming affair, especially if you only have your obligatory two weeks to do it.

7. Metrics are great, unless the team can’t agree on them.

8. Success in marketing isn’t black and white; everything you do ends up looking a funny shade of gray.  If you want black and white, join finance.

Businessman in Chair9. If you must, use the first month or so on the job to be a listener in meetings.  After that, you have no excuse.  Speak up.  No matter your level, your opinion does matter.

10. People laugh at off-site, team-building exercises, but they work.  Especially when you get to be completely honest and blunt about your team members, and they get to do the same to you.  Think of it as a character-building experience.  Constructive criticism is the way to build loyalty and trust.

11. Knee-jerk reactions generally don’t end well.  For your newly-implemented marketing processes to succeed, you really need to give them at least a few months to mature.  One week doesn’t give you a clear view of anything, especially in online marketing.

12. If you don’t support the product you’re supposed to be marketing, you shouldn’t be marketing it.

13. You’re going to make mistakes, but you learn from them.  And it’s nice if you have a boss who realizes this point and who believes in giving second chances.

What other advice would you give entry-level marketing folks?


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Categories: Marketing Strategy

2 Comments so far:

  1. Joseph says:

    Hey Ingrid,

    Great post as usual. I really enjoyed this one because I can relate to what you write about. I am working with a startup company right now, Future Delivery, and I am on the marketing team and am always learning new things.

    If I can give some advice to someone looking at entry-level marketing, I would say that you can’t doubt yourself. You will encounter situations that you may feel overwhelmed or intimidated, but you must overcome them and stay composed and level-headed.

    Also I totally agree with:

    “3. Using two monitors instead of one is the best decision I ever made, especially where collecting data and doing graphic design are concerned.”

    I’ve found it to be very helpful.

    I look forward to reading more from you!

    All the best,
    Joseph

  2. Ingrid says:

    Hey Joseph,

    Thanks for stopping by! I absolutely agree with your point about doubting yourself. Instead of fearing that your professional superiors are going to shoot down any and all ideas you might have, consider instead that your ideas bring a fresh perspective to the table.

    And also, I actually posted about Future Delivery some months ago in an article titled “Twitter and YouTube are Having a Baby” (found here). Looks like you guys are on the right path; I’m practically foaming at the mouth waiting for FD to launch. Plus, I’m enjoying all the challenges over at FDCareer. 🙂

    Regards,
    Ingrid