So You Want to Be a Marketing Rock Star?

I was talking to our intern today, and she inspired me to write this post.  As a young person trying to break into the marketing field, she was interested in hearing my advice on how college students or recent college grads can land a gig in the highly competitive field of marketing, advertising, or public relations.  So I thought I would give it a go.  Finding a job is not easy.  Finding a job in marketing can be twice as hard due to the current economy as well as competition.  So here are my tips to land a gig in marketing.

Take a Step Back: I think this is the most important step.  Take some time to figure out what you really want to do, and which companies you want to work for.  Gone are the days where you can simply send your resume to a bunch of companies and hope they respond.  Monster is a lie and not real anymore.

Your search should be just like a successful marketing campaign, strategic and highly targeted.  Focus on at most 10 companies.  Research them.  Know who the players are.  Find out how to get in.  Develop a marketing plan for yourself on how to get in.

Throw Away Your Resume: Seriously.  Take a look at it, and then throw it away and start over.  Resumes today need to tell a story, and if yours is simply listing out what you have done, it may not catch the eye of a recruiter.  Someone in my circle recently applied to a marketing job where there were over 400 applicants for one position.  To win this game, you need to stand out early.

One of my best tips to resume writing is to have a core design (if you are using a Microsoft Word Resume template, throw it away, burn it, then burn it again) and customize that design for each job you apply to.  If a company posts an open position, they usually list the skills desired.  Take your template and create a resume that highlights exactly the skills they are looking for.  Note: Do not lie, just focus your experience and tailor it to their needs.  Become the person they are looking for by highlighting your skills that are relevant for each position.  Don’t list “internet” as a skill either.

Remember Every Day is an Interview: I was recently reminded of this at work, and it is good advice.  If you are a student, you are interviewing with your peers who may land jobs, your instructors who probably have jobs, and a variety of other people day in and day out.  You are under the microscope every day on how you handle pressure, challenges, and create opportunities.  Never miss a chance to sell yourself in any situation.  Be a rock star every day – you never know who is watching you.

There is No Career Path: When you talk to marketing professionals, you will soon realize that they all have a very different backgrounds.  The days are over where you start a job after college and have a career path to a certain position.  You need to make your own path.  Every job you have from here on in is experience and a way to network in to other organizations.  Take advantage of all of your experience.  You will find you will also need to make your own way, and no one can do it for you.

Your First Job May Be the Path to Your Dream Job: While you might want to start your career in a corporate marketing department, you may soon realize that these positions often require experience and are not entry level.  While that can be discouraging, don’t let that stop you from reaching your goal.  Let’s say your dream was to be a Marketing Manager for Ford – but are unable to get into the door at corporate.  Take a step back and understand the experience you might need to make that happen.  You could possible explore working at JWT, Ford’s advertising agency, or getting experience somewhere else in automotive.  Never lose sight of your goals.  If you are driven (Ford, Driven, see what I did there?) you can reach your end goal.  It might not be easy, but in the end when you reach that goal it will be that much more rewarding.  You could also reach out to @scottmonty for advice on getting into Ford.

Network: Talk to your instructors.  Join LinkedIn.  Meet people in fields that you want to work in.  Most marketing people have huge egos and would love for you to listen to their success stories.  Half kidding here – but for the most part they will be willing to help.  Talk to as many people as you can.  If you land an internship, connect with people and stay connected with them throughout your career.

Be Mobile: While you are young, the positions and opportunities may not be where you currently live.  You may have to move for awhile to gain experience.  Look at it this way – you can always return after you have experience.  Trust me – do this while you are young and before kids.  Making your way in a new city is one thing, uprooting a family is another.  Hopefully you won’t have to do it – but if you cannot find a gig in your current city, making the move can be a great opportunity to gain experience.

Be Humble.  Be Patient: Hard work is still the key ingredient to success in marketing, as in any field. Put your head down in whatever you do and work hard.  Be honest.  Work smarter.  Be patient.  While your first job may not be your dream job, it is what you make of it, and remember you are creating your own path.

I read an article about goals in 2012 – and I think they are valid for every year.  To make every year your best year.  Good advice to share today and always, especially for young people: Do what you say you are going to do, otherwise known as accountability.

  • If you say you are going to call, call.
  • Promise to send someone information? Send it.
  • Finish a job when you promised–or earlier–with quality work.
  • Let people know as soon as you can when you are running late for a meeting or won’t make it at all.
  • And, my personal favorite, make good on the promise “Let’s get together sometime.” Make a note on your calendar in the near future to set something up. Or don’t say it at all.

Pretty simple advice, but amazingly, we can tend to forget it.

Don’t Get Discouraged: You will probably get shot down a few times.  Maybe more than a few.  We all have.  Don’t ever let that discourage you.  Once you get discouraged, the search gets even more difficult.  Don’t blame others.  Don’t blame the economy.  Just get better and keep getting up.

I realized I left out that whole interviewing thing – but this felt like a good start.  Maybe next time we will touch on that.



The Rise of the Urban Store

For years retailers raced to suburbia, opening mega stores in shopping centers next to bedroom communities.  Super Walmart, Target, Costco.  For years they have gotten bigger and bigger, with a belief that the more they offered, the more they will sell.  They call it the “one trip” effect, or convenience model.  It made sense for a different customer base.

I hate big stores.  I avoid them like the plague.  A Super Walmart to me feels like an aircraft hanger.  I have shopped there a few times – the prices were good.  But I like shopping with my kids, and shopping at a Super Walmart or Target with kids is near impossible.  The most annoying thing in a Walmart is buying burgers and dogs in the summer and then having to walk about a half mile for charcoal in the lawn and garden department.

Or grocery shopping, but then having to walk another mile or two to get to the HBC aisle to get the soap you need.  I get it Walmart – some guy told you to put the soap next to the pharmacy because it made sense 20 years ago.  Maybe it did make sense 20 years ago.  But if the majority of your traffic is buying groceries, go ahead and take a look at putting a few items where people are.  I think you will be surprised.

I know some people love them, but I feel the trend of the big store is coming to an end.

Target recently opened a new Urban Concept in LA.  The store is smaller and focuses on the household basics.  The target is urban dwellers and commuters, with a focus on essentials and items they can carry on the bus with them.

Walmart also opened up a new Neighborhood Market in California this week.  California has been a testing ground since 2007 When Tesco entered the US Market with their Fresh and Easy Concept.  All of these retailers are testing their offerings, but one thing is constant – the stores are smaller.  While I think these stores are a little ahead of their time for the east coast, I also believe they are the future of retail.  Offer the customer what they want, at a location that is so insanely convenient, they will have no choice to shop there.  It’s pretty simple actually.

I welcome these smaller stores with open arms.  I look at it as a little less area for my kids to break something or get lost.  Except Costco.  I will keep my Costco just the way it is thank you.


Here Come the Millennials

There has been talk for some time about the emerging millennial generation, and how they are impacting the marketing and retail environment.  I recently came across a great research report that outlines the market potential of millennials: Trouble in Aisle 5.  While many companies have been waiting for this demographic to emerge, there is data to support it is finally happening.

While the report focuses on grocery shopping – this report also clearly shows companies that are focused on this generation now are probably going to reap the rewards in the future.  While many millennials are just starting their careers, many companies and brands have not fully realized the economic potential from this group to date.  However, some key stats are going to change this very soon.

Why the chart above is significant: research has shown that median incomes for households 25+ jump 60% to $45,000 from $28,000.  In 2010, there were 5.5% of millennials in the age bracket of 25+.  By 2020 – that number will increase to about 20%.  Having a population increase in size of over 15% in 8 years, while also growing incomes around 60% is a huge shift companies cannot ignore.  Those who are capturing this demographic now are probably already being rewarded, and will be rewarded even more so in the future.

The report outlines some key trends for Millennials:

  • Millennials are less loyal to specific brands/retailers: it appears they buy what they want, when they want, wherever they want: Building loyalty now will be key to sustained growth in the future
  • Millennials appear much more focused on lowest price rather than brand loyalty, but at the same time are much more willing to pay for specific attributes: If not a price leader, focus on positioning and perceived value
  •  Millennials place high value on convenience in shopping for food: If convenience is a key selling point of your product or service, highlight it often
  •  Higher income and education levels, driven by the emergence of the YEMMie (Young, Educated, Millennial Mother)
  •  Brands do matter more for top-earning millennials — these just might not be their parents’ brands: If your brands are showing declining sales and low acceptance by millennials, it may be time to re-position your brand

These trends were also highlighted in a recent NPR Report.

Good insight for the project’s this semester!


Redefining the In-Store Brand Experience

I came across this video of a new concept Audi showroom in London developed by Razorfish.  Truly, truly ground breaking innovative retail design that redefines in store experience.

This is pretty ground breaking stuff.  I am all for innovation, but for some reason, when it comes to cars, I still need to kick the tires and ask them to open up the hood, even though I have no clue what I am looking at.

Would you buy a car with a brand experience like this?





Emerging Trend: Pop Up Retailers

It looks like an emerging trend for retailers is the pop up retail store.  What is a pop up store?  It is a temporary, low cost store that a retailer can open very quickly, and target areas with temporary population growth or demand.  There is much less cost in the form of Cap Ex (Capital Expenditures), and the stores are often retrofitted into a current space.


Whole Foods is the latest retailer to test this trend when they opened up their first pop up store in the Hamptons in Early July.  I think this trend has a lot of opportunity for retailers, as a way to increase revenue while reducing costs.  If you look at the Whole Foods store example, the store has access to a very affluent customer base, with little in fixed costs.  Since this location is a summer vacation destination but empties out in the Fall and Winter, Whole Foods does not have to absorb the losses of slower sales months, which in retail, is very common.  Whole Foods could effectively turn seasonal retail sales it’s head, by making sure they are always where their customers are.


As marketing professionals, we are trained to target where the most of our potential customers are through targeted media, interactive, and social channels.  This trend is a natural progression for retailers to better access their customers where they are, without taking on the high costs of buying land and building stores.  The opportunity goes beyond food – any retailer could do this effectively with a sound strategy.

Retailers should watch this trend very closely.  If effective, Whole Foods could open pop up stores on college campuses in the Fall, and others in key vacation destinations like the Outer Banks in the summer.      It is definitly a trend to watch for all retailers defending their market share or looking for an alternative way to grow sales.  The only challenge I potentially see is labor – I would venture to guess finding part-time help in the Hamptons might be a challenge due to the affluent demographic profile.


Changing of the Guard

I am really excited about Yahoo! appointing Marissa Mayer as the new CEO.  It is exciting that they chose a woman, a geek, and had enough of an open mind to make this move while she is pregnant.  Sadly, most companies would not have given her a shot, but Yahoo! did, and I am very excited about what Marissa represents for not only Yahoo!, but for all of us Gen X and Y’ers – ready to come out from the shadow of the boomers.

So why am I excited?  Marissa represents the changing of the guard in corporate America.  She is young, stylish, and a geek.  She is tech savvy.  She is going to struggle through parenthood.  She is just like us.  That is why I am so excited – Marissa is just like all of us! (With a few more dollars in her bank account, of course).  I bet she sleeps with her iPad and smartphone – just like we do!

We have three core generations in the US.  Boomers, who have led companies for years, Gen X, a smaller generation stuck in the middle, and Gen Y or millennial, just as large as the Baby Boomers.  Even though Gen X and Y far exceed boomers in population, boomers still lead the US in influence, income, and corporate America leadership roles.  Most Fortune 500 companies are led by boomers – often who do not use the company’s product or service, and can be out of touch with the struggles of growing a career, being a new parent, and paying off student loans.  Generation X and Y are parents.  They are educated.  And they are ready to be leaders.

I wish Marissa the best of luck.  She has her work cut out for her for sure – but overall this change took a lot of courage, and I hope Yahoo! is rewarded for that vision.


Getting Ready for the Fall Semester

As some of you know, I am a part time instructor at Point Park University.  This semester, I am teaching Marketing Research and Marketing Management.  I am passionate about marketing, and try to use real world examples to help prepare my student’s for their career’s after college.

I am very excited about teaching – and like always am trying to prepare early for my classes.  This semester, I am hoping to work with the owner of Marty’s Market to develop strategic marketing plans as well as primary and secondary research as they  grow their business in Pittsburgh.

Marty’s has already worked with other student’s around Pittsburgh, and I am thrilled the owner has agreed to meet with me to discuss plans for my Point Park student’s fall project.  We are scheduled to meet to finalize plans in the next few weeks, and I am very excited.

I am excited about this project for a few reasons:

1. I love food

2. I have a passion for retail marketing

3. I find the innovation and desire of small businesses refreshing

I hope my class enjoys working on this project.  I think we can develop a few ideas to help Marty’s in Pittsburgh.  I picked up some interesting research from NPR that shows a concept like this may work, and that young people today are steering away from traditional grocery stores in large numbers.   The article states that millenials are looking for Natural and Organic, a wide variety of flavors combined with convenience.

This blog moving forward will house each weeks lesson plans, notes, and discussions for both classes.  I am hoping it proves successful for both myself and my students as an interactive tool to drive weekly discussions.