The Quandary It Must Be
My major during college was not marketing. I studied it as an outside concentration and took the basic courses (part of the requirement to get my degree), but it was never my main focus. Interestingly enough, here I am as a marketing professional, working on national campaigns and seeing big results for ideas I’ve created.
At the same time, I have friends who did study marketing as their main focus. Sadly, many of them are still searching for jobs in the field, or have given up and gone into other areas of business, hoping one day to switch to a position in marketing (marketing is apparently a pretty hard field to get into).
How I learn
I was always highly interested in psychology, sociology and philosophy and have read countless books on each of these subjects. Being a student of the mind, society and humanity might be what prepared me to be a marketing professional more than anything else. Or perhaps it was the fact that always I loved writing and putting together/remixing content that I thought people would enjoy and share.
The thing is, I grew up with a passion for creating original content (writing, music – anything that allowed me to express myself) and simultaneously looked to find ways to share it with others. I was marketing from a young age and didn’t even realize it. I also was always experimenting with the web and technology, having built RC (radio controlled) planes from age 12 and my own computers since 14 (I was always into DIY).
While I did go to a great university, I unfortunately can’t credit them with much other than providing me with tons of idle time to pursue independent learning and giving me a piece of paper which allowed me to enter the professional world.
Everything I’ve learned about marketing (online and offline) I have learned from personal exploration, independent learning/experience and observation.
I never enjoyed learning in classroom or group situations, I always preferred to read/study on my own, and that’s just what I’ve done all my life. Web marketing and viral marketing especially is something that I learned independently – from books, blogs and observation instead of in a lecture hall. I can’t fathom ever being taught that stuff (properly) in a classroom situation simply because there is no rulebook.
Yet, we’re at a point where to get great positions at either a marketing agency or an in-house position, you need to be experienced in this area (and all the traditional areas, too).
Can you imagine a professor trying to teach students how to create content that will be shared successfully around social media? Can they even teach that? In my experience, the only way to actually become successful at this is to just get out there yourself and experiment.
The quandary it must be to be a marketing or communications professor when such an incredible shift has occurred in how information is spread. The old models are forever broken, yet they continue to be taught as the gold standard to a new generation of marketing and communications professionals.
The unfortunate position many students may be in, entering a world having been taught by the old-guard, yet stepping into an arena where the old rules which have been thrown out the window.
But, there is hope when you consider that this new generation will have grown up on social networking tools, blogs and mobile devices. They are digital natives and may have an innate sense for embracing these tools successfully for marketing and communications purposes on a mass scale.
Let’s hope that old and new will come together and create something which reshapes our industry into true permission marketing and a future filled with transparency, authenticity and relevancy.