The Formula for Successful Marketing Career

I still remember one of my past interns asking me this question back at a previous job.  She was driven, and wanted to succeed in marketing, and asked me if I had any tips for her.

She noted that she already talked to multiple people, and was not sure on which career path to take to be a successful marketer.  I will give you the same advice that I gave her a few years back.

  1. There is no path.  Gone are the days where you work for one company and climb the corporate ladder directly up.  If you talk to 100 successful people in marketing, they will all tell you a different story, and how they got there.  There is no “one path” to becoming successful in marketing.  To become successful, you have to make your own path.  You define success, and being successful can mean a million things.  Figure out what you want to do, and find a way for you to get there.
  2. Over Deliver.  Always.  On every project, give everything you can to it.  Don’t just skate by and deliver what is asked for.  The key to being successful in marketing at any level is adding value.  Anyone can deliver a project – you have to make it special to stand out.
  3. Never stop learning.  Never.  Marketing is a hyper competitive field, and you will need to stay at the top of your game to continue to grow in your career.  Think about 5 years ago – where the smartphone did not exist, and tablets were not mainstream. Now think about today, where social media and mobile marketing are a great way to reach and engage with customers.  If you stopped learning 5 years ago – you are dead in the water today.
  4. Try new things – even if you think you will fail.  Sometimes to move up, you have to move sideways, or even backwards.  Having a well-rounded background is a key to growing in marketing, so be sure that your skills are always up to date by trying new things.  Volunteer for side projects.  Take classes on the side.  Don’t fall behind, because there are a million people waiting to jump ahead of you.
  5. Don’t focus on job titles or money.  Job titles and money will come with time – but you have to earn it.  One thing you will find about successful people in marketing is they worked hard and paid their dues to get where they are at.  You will get there someday, be patient and humble.  Good things come to those who work hard and are dedicated.

Lastly – if you say you are going to do something do it.  It seems simple, but make that a goal of yours in your personal and professional lives.  If you say you are going to call, call.  If you promise a project on a date, deliver that project.  Always follow through.

So those are my tips – but I figured you might enjoy some tips from folks I admire in the field.  I have asked some of my friends in the biz to share their tips with you, and they are below.  Great advice from great hard-working people.  Another great tip in marketing is learning from others, and the folks below share some great advice on being successful in marketing, and how they got to where they are at.

Name: Angela Ferguson

Education: Bachelors in Communications & Rhetoric/Certificate of Professional Writing from University of Pittsburgh; MBA with concentration in Management from Point Park University

Internships: American Red Cross Southwestern PA Chapter, Marketing Communications Intern and Disaster Public Affairs Volunteer; Big Science Sound Studio Public Relations Intern

Current Role: Assistant Marketing Manager, Market District Format, Giant Eagle, Inc. Responsibilities include managing multi-million dollar marketing budget; communicating to customers through print, broadcast and digital media, direct mail, street teams and outdoor placement; creating a food experience by coordinating monthly large-scale, multi-store sampling events and guest chef appearances

What most excites you about what you do? First, I get to talk about, research and market on-trend foods with a group of people who are passionate about the business. The Market District format is a testing center for new programs with enterprise-wide implications, so creativity is welcomed. The marketing team is lean and therefore every day is busy and unpredictable. Also, the work is active and dynamic, involving interaction across teams with merchandising, legal, operations and HR professionals.

What is the best project you ever worked on?  Why? The Grand Opening of the Columbus, OH, Market District location. The store was built from the ground-up at the right size, with the right product mix, in the right market. We introduced the concept to a new market and built brand recognition. We brought in a celebrity host, Adam Richman of Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food, hosted Team Member Friends & Family, neighborhood and VIP open house events and opened to the public with weeks of ongoing activity — all while maintaining our marketing budget…and sanity.

If you could give one tip to a graduating senior looking to get into a marketing related field, what would it be?  Three tips: 1) Do something to differentiate yourself from the student next to you; 2) Don’t burn bridges, even if you think you have a boat. Your network will get you further than any job search website; 3) Be yourself and keep your confidence. Going from upperclassman to rookie is a big adjustment; you’ll have to work hard to prove yourself.

Name: Chris Droesch

Education: B.S. in Management Information Systems, Case Western Reserve University, MBA, Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business

Internships: Nope. I was considering a career in the military and spent the summer between junior/senior year of college training at the Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Quantico, VA

Current Role: I work on an innovative banking experience. My official title is Senior Product Analyst Online. It’s a product management role, which means I work on identifying and implementing new features.

What most excites you about what you do? I love getting to work with teams from different functions: sales, engineering, marketing, and design, just to name a few. Also, there’s no better feeling than hearing a customer tell you that the product you work on changed their life.

If you could give one tip to a graduating senior looking to get into a marketing related field, what would it be?  When I was in college, I was afraid to pursue a career in marketing because I thought that marketing departments were the first to get laid off in bad times. This is simply not true. I also thought marketing was the same thing as “advertising.” There are many aspects to marketing; advertising is only one piece in the marketing puzzle.

Name: Diana Besoiu

Education: Grove City College,B.S. Marketing Management,Minor: Communications

Current Role: Social Media Manager – Manage my organizations social media properties including: content creation, execution, strategy, analytics

What most excites you about what you do?  The ability to think creativity (both proactive and reactive) in a quickly changing space

What is the best project you ever worked on?  Why? Vision casting for enterprise and lines of business. Love the ability to think freely and put all options on the table. It’s always nice to see where things could be, where they could go with the right amount of resources.

If you could give one tip to a graduating senior looking to get into a marketing related field, what would it be?  Educate yourself. Learn real-world advice and keep up to date on ever-changing trends and advancements.

Name: Alexa Davenport

Education: BA (Advertising), Michigan State University

Internships: Michigan Opera Theater, Production Department, Sales Intern at WLAJ/ABC 53 Lansing-Jackson, Delegate, 52nd Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival

Current Role: Assistant Vice President, eMarketing

I manage the onsite advertising on our site as well as the offsite display/mobile/tablet marketing for all lines of business within the bank. Our team works with each line of business to understand their goals for the year, and we collaborate with the ad agency to determine the best strategy to meet and exceed them. We approve media plans and creative and work with internal designers and developers to design and build new site content, landing pages and microsites.

Once a campaign is launched, we monitor performance on a weekly (at minimum) basis and work with the agency to optimize the media and creative. We report back to each line of business on a monthly basis, and help increase the general knowledge of the online space for each of our partners.

I also manage the budget and billing for our department to make sure that (1) we stay under budget, (2) we deliver within our monthly forecast and (3) our bills are paid on time.

What most excites you about what you do?  The online landscape is constantly changing, so (to be completely cliché) every day is new. The tactics and strategies I used at the ad agency 4 years ago are almost obsolete, so we have to stay on our toes to make sure we stay relevant and interesting to our consumers. The work can be stressful, but its nice to push yourself to do things differently and because we work with multiple agencies, it gives me a great opportunity to learn from many different points of view to find the most efficient way to accomplish a project.

What is the best project you ever worked on?  Why? Launching an innovative banking experience in 2008.  I was the digital media planner at my current banks previous agency and it was the first project I really “owned”. My media director had recently left the agency and the bank trusted me to plan and execute the first majority-online launch of what has become the lead product for the bank. Of course I had a ton of help from the offline media director and the account team, but at the digital “expert”, I had the opportunity to lay out the launch strategy, recommend the websites and sponsorships and work with the creative teams to coordinate the messaging.

The launch was a success and probably a big reason why the bank hired me 2 years later.

If you could give one tip to a graduating senior looking to get into a marketing related field, what would it be?  Learn paid search and online marketing in general.  There aren’t many people who are ‘experts’ in search, because it’s so data-driven, but this job will always be in high demand and you can work in any industry as long as you have the basic knowledge.

Also, TV will never go away, and neither will print and radio (to an extent), but advertising spend is quickly and dramatically shifting to online; if you don’t understand the medium and learn to work with the constant flow of information and data, it will be incredibly difficult to adapt.

Name: Maura Pohland

Education: B.A. in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh (minors in Lit, Children’s Lit, and Psychology)

Internships: I had two, which were absolutely invaluable. Both were through the University of Pittsburgh — one was in the Media Relations office, working mostly on PR-related activities, and the other was in the Career Services office, creating an event series from the ground up that would connect students and professionals to talk about career options.

Current Role: I am a Marketing Specialist on the Advertising and Design Support team. This basically means that I support a team called Affiliation Banking (comprised of University Banking, WorkPlace Banking, Military Banking, and Employee Banking) with marketing across the board — events, advertising, collateral, promotions, social, messaging, etc. I like to say that my role consists of getting the train to the station on time without the wheels falling off — plenty of time management along with adherence to standards such as brand guidelines, customer engagement, relation to business goal, etc. In this role I get to do a little bit of every part of marketing but they are all grounded in project management and creativity.

What most excites you about what you do?  I love that every day is different — one day I’ll be collaborating with WorkPlace Banking on creating a sweepstakes promotion for their on-site tabling events, the next I’ll be working with University Banking on determining what messages resonate with students today, and the next I’ll be brainstorming with the University Access team on what can be created to further build excitement in-branch around the student audience. I also love that I truly believe that these business in particular are destined for great things. I have such a belief in what they can do, and it makes me passionate every day to push a little harder for their success.

What is the best project you ever worked on?  Why? The first is the University Banking 2012 sweepstakes promotion that we created for use at 50 schools at which our bank has an exclusive relationship. To me, promotions are always fun in that we get to play more so than usual with tactics and creative, and namely within this project, we created 50 porcelain piggy banks to be used as tabling enhancements, produced entry forms that had a perforated portion that could be turned into an origami piggy and served as the customer takeaway, and in conjunction with that, created a video that showed a real person making the origami piggy that could be used as instructions. It was a really enjoyable project to work on and bring to life, and we doubled the amount of paper and online entries received. A definite success!

The second project is currently still in the works, but its overall objective is to confirm and create customer-authentic messages and communications for the student audience. This is something we’ve never done, and it’s needed more than ever as customer insight becomes more and more important in what we do as marketers. I always find it enlightening and energizing to hear true feedback from the demographic we target in our everyday work because that will only make our deliverables more successful in the end.

If you could give one tip to a graduating senior looking to get into a marketing related field, what would it be?  NETWORK! It absolutely pays to know people — they can refer you for an open position, keep you up to date as what’s available in the market, and especially give you guidance and serve as a mentor as you look to expand your career. Don’t discount someone just because they can’t do something for you right now — you never know when it will pay off. So, with that, be nice to everyone!

Last tip: learn from the world around you.  You just got a huge opportunity to from the advice above.

Chris Lovett


BMGT 311: Extra Credit, Social Media Marketing Research


Class – for our last assignment, please find a resource that discusses tools for capturing quantitative or qualitative social media data, and the importance of it to marketers.  Why is analyzing this data on Facebook, twitter, instagram, etc so important to marketers?  How do they use it?

Have a nice Thanksgiving.

Chris Lovett






BMGT 311: Assignment #5 – Infographics


In Marketing Research, one of the fastest growing trends I see includes the use of Infographics as a way to increase awareness or convey a statistic to a wide audience.  This use of Data Visualization combines information and data in a very easy way for audiences to grasp and understand.

Why are they so popular?  My theory is simply people are busy – and anyway you can showcase information in a way that can be understood and digested in a way that is visual, will be more likely to be accepted an audience.  I also think infographics are very similar to today’s most popular social media platforms, engaging (Twitter and Facebook) and Visual (Instagram).

Even resumes can become infographics – and make your experience look a little more interesting than it might be.

So can you find an interesting infographic?  What is the information it is conveying, and to what audience?  Why do you feel this way of visualizing data is becoming so popular?

Chris Lovett

BMGT 411: Assignment #4 Direct and Targeted Marketing


In the last class, we took a deep dive into marketing that leveraged mass communications to reach an audience, TV, Radio, Newspaper, Magazines, Billboards, etc.  In Chapter 17, we are going to take a look at methods marketers use to target consumers in a very intimate way, using Direct Mail, email, and targeted interactive marketing.

While targeted marketing is not as glamorous as mass media advertising, it is becoming increasingly popular as brands look to increase their ROI, target their most profitable customers, and measure results.

Good Direct Marketing has a couple of key ingredients:

1. Data. There is a reason you are being targeted.  Whether it be because you meet a certain demographic profile (Age, Income) or you meet a companies desired target based on their goals (Lapsed customer, heavy user, etc) – there is a reason why you are being contacted.  The best Direct Marketers usually have very robust CRM systems to target the right customers at the right time.

2. It’s personal.  Unlike mass media advertising, Direct Marketing is often addressed and communicated in a 1:1 style, with the best Direct Marketers speaking in a way that feels like it is individual for each customer.

3. It has a CTA.  CTA stands for call to action.  Unlike in mass media where the CTA is often unclear, in direct marketing, the advertiser usually makes it pretty clear what they want you to do next.  Use a coupon.  Visit a store.  Call a number.  Good Direct Marketing has great CTA’s.

4. It is measurable.  Direct Marketing has the advantage on the quality of measurement over mass media.  Send an email?  Easily get open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and even heat maps to where customers are looking.  And these results can often come in a few days vs a few months in mass media.

Marketers are also going to extreme lengths to make Direct Marketing more personal – we will discuss next week.  Here is a quick video to see how far you can go:

So you were given examples of Direct Marketing in class last week (if you missed class – grab an email or direct mail from home) and answer the questions below:

1. Who is the brand marketing to you?

2. Who do you think the target was?

3. What data do you think they used to get the name?  Was it external or internal data source?

4. What was the CTA?

5. How will the results, in your opinion, be measured?

This will be a great way for us to get warmed up into the Direct Marketing discussion next week.

Chris Lovett

Great Ads Tell Stories.

In BMGT 411 – we have gotten into the core of Marketing.  We have dug into the 4 p’s at a very deep level.  For the next few weeks – we are going to talk about ads.  Ads that are good.  Ads that are bad.  What they cost, and who they are intended to reach.

These commercials below were broadcast and viral hits recently – because they were brave, and they told a story.  The focus was not on a product or a service, but story telling.  Creative so good, you stopped, you watched, and you listened.

This Chipotle ad from 2011 has 7 million views on YouTube.  It took on an issue head on, and told a story about it.  It opened eyes in a very unique way.  It made people stop and think: where is my food coming from?

Microsoft’s Kinect Effects – takes a video game, and turns it into inspiration.  They say they are just as excited to ask the world what they will do with Kinect next – a direct reference to crowd sourcing.  Inspirational.  And tells a story of a company that gave us the tool and watched as we customized it.  The customer is now in charge.

The Chrysler SuperBowl spot from a couple of years ago.  It was a war cry.  Detroit was falling, both Chrysler and GM taking government bailouts, Ford hanging on a thread.  This spot was a rally cry for the US to get back to its roots, and make Detroit proud.  This spot wasn’t about Chrysler.  It was about clawing your way from the bottom, featuring a live visual example of someone who did just that.

These are just a few examples of powerful ads that stop you in your tracks.  They have one thing in common – they tell a story.  Can you think of an ad that you feel told a story?  Who was it from?  What story did it tell?  Why do you think it was good.  Let’s discuss them in the next class.