Thursday, January 31, 2008

More Career Tricks for Marketers from the MSc Marketing, Strathclyde.

Dirty tricks don't just start with your application process- they continue until you have 'made it' in a career shaping job.

Up and until then it is often dog eat dog-marketing jobs are few and far between outside the south east, and even there you will have to fight your way in. People get plum entry level and first move jobs by variously using their old university and family / freinds network, following a boss out to a new job, cheating in the job queu, or actually being in another job and threatening to leave. This last point is very, very often used and I will explain why.

Marketing jobs are very few on the ground compared to all the areas which "feed them" with candidates > sales forces of up to 50 people per marketing position, all the universities, the CRM, etc etc. Mysteriously they are often filled with strange hectic types like Dr. Thomas Klenka, who not only have little marketing savey, but lack interpersonal skills and presentation skills. Klenkatiss managed to blackmail himself three rungs up the ladder from a shitty customer support job to a senior PM role and erm, didn\t do so well so was bunked out into sales, where he vanished from the radar. Each time threats to leave ! The thing is that companies have a pervcieved need to keep people who are ont he learning curve and ahead of it with products, services and customers. It costs a lot to recruit and they @like@ to recruit internally to retain staff and motivate others to work harder. But often they will have no motivation to choose you over a better qualified external candidate if you don\t use the old SPIN and threaten to leave.

You may well have got yourself into a desirable company to work for, as reccommended in my rants, but be stuck in something a little dull like customer services, technical services, or a sales job you don't really like. I have seen this approach work, but in a company where in a few 'klenka' types have done it before, the bosses get tired of it and call bluff- so that is to say it is still a high risk strategy and you should have a back up plan. Looking on the positive side - you have a lot to offer by now, even after just six months in sales or customer services...,and the company has a lot ot lose esspecially if you have been through an expensive sales training programme. If there is a clear vacancy or person leaving / going on maternity then sieze it- work the positive with the marketing managers and threaten to leave with personnel and eventually your own manager.

In a sales job you can always turn round and say " it isn't really for me being out in the field every day charming people, I'd rather be in what I'm educated in' -just please, please don't say this to your sales bosses- reserve it for personnel (who have invested money in your training and time in hiring you and have retention goals !!) or marketing.

Don't what ever you do, say anything to your customer services manager or worse if you work in a sales job, your sales line managers > They will ear mark you for pressure to "perform or leave", or work out an exit strategy which will involve closing deals, closing any potential towards a tender and booking appointments. After all that effort to keep your job, supposedly, they will often fire you! There must be many a person having spent ages in uni or via the CIM sitting in a sales job who played their cards all wrong by "crying mummy" to their sales bosses. This british "need to confess" to your enemy is pathetic.

I've seen very bloody minded types just pull all the stops out tin threatening to leave, without any back up plan I knew of. Klenka! But you should have your CV in at competitors, suppliers, customers (and all the agencies once you have over a year) and be using friday morning to send out job applications, even before work. As a territory rep in Scotland, you could probably hand deliver it on the next day or the monday. Agencies (recrutiment consutlants I mean) probably don't want to touch you until you have their idea of a magic year, but given special fiorst education - a huge plus of doign the MSc after your first "life" - they will at least consider you and also if you work in a high demand industry like telecoms/ ICT, then they will have a bit more frequent marketing assistant jobs which are poorly paid. Now it is likely that given the offer you would rather stay where you are, but this is a fall back and a lever to get you into marketing.

Changing Companies

There comes a point when you either blow out in your persuit within your company or you just realise that maybe there are more interesting & glamerous & fun marketing departments in this world. Quite likely, for instance with medical sales, a marekting job will mean a move to the SE and all that comes with that rat race * although it can be ok, as long as you get a place to live and they don\t work loony hours.

Now you may have identified some key companies you want to work for or a key job descritption which takes you forward. You may even stumble on an employer like Adobe or Invitroegn who throw training at you and are worth getting in just for that (* both of these hav kind of second hand EU marketing departments*) . Also by now you have probably sat over a year or two in sales, or a marketing assistant job or the like and are much more sellable as far as those once evil recruitment consultants are concerened. Now after say two years, they are your best pal all of a sudden. More on them soon.

The key dilema is that you don't want to lose your job and also you don\t actaully have a lot of time to look for jobs and apply for other jobs. So it is going to be quality over quantity and you should be thinking of jobs in terms of a few processes only each quarter. usually interviews go in a round of three with a telephone offer. Now just think, that is a lot of time away from work! There are of course "blocks" of percieved active time in the year,, but just treat it as taking a quarter of a year to either close something or walk away fronm those threads and start again. Howwever run up days before holidays are very fruitful times to apply as the numbers are down!

These days quality over quantity means the following:

Identifying all the "marketing" employers in your industry or supply chain
Identifying those in acceptabel geoegraphic areas to relocate to
Identifying their mehtods of advertising jobs
Identifying their recruitment agencies
Screening advertised jobs/ calling up for all relevatn jobs
Being fussy with adverts and expecially recrutiment c'unts.
Doing some open applications directed to people in marketing
Tayloring your CV for every job or company
Really expressing your interest, motivation and research for a company
Sorting out a personal branding which is targeted for your next job
Identifying quality contacts at rec'unts and working them up

Using Interviews to Your Advantage
You are in a strong position, sitting in a job, so use it. Often in my experience, employers interveiw many and decide to go with an internal candidate or someone who sent a very motivated open application. So interviews can be a waste of time and they are often just that. Interview times are not cast in stone, but quibbling there and then down the phone over a date and time you get given is a very neagtive thing to do. You should sound deligthed! However It is far better to do the following tricks.

1) For jobs which are a bit, well ok, maybe yeah, make it very clear that you are limited in availability and prefer an early evening or an 8am interview. If you have felixtime, firday Pm can be quite nice because most people are running down. It is probably better to take it on the phone / see below on canceling/postponing

2) do go and see recruitment consultants in person. Get your personal branding across and be very very clear on the type of job area your want to work in : marketing!! But But but!! Before you see the consultatn make sure they recruit in this area themselves, personnaly, and try to find out which clients they have. Most work on an account management basis, so explore several contacts in 'working' your way into a consultants to get what YOU want.

Don't bend to what they suggest or let them decide about you. Don't send your CV until you establish who is the best contact(s) for you. Quality, preparation. Speak to them/ send it and immediately follow it up. They will skim read your letter so it can just be blah blah, but you should repeat your 'career goals' etc on the CV and if you are currently in sales, make this lower on the list.,Otherwise you will get endless calls from them about sales jobs. The first 15 second should reek marketing ability and motivation!

3) be fussy about what jobs they will send you forward for. If it is a non key consultant trying to shoe horn you into some rubbishy job, at a non branded company, then palm them off with that you are too busy today and tonight so best not to follow it up. Get them to send details to your hotmail and think up questions on the job. Don't let them bully you with 'so you aren't actually actively seeking work' / just say you can't talk right now. Remember, they need maybe 20 CVs and 6 people for interview who are in jobs most likely and that is a hardf job for them to do. Maybe if you really have a rapport with one you can do a deal whereby you play ball on a few shitty interviews, whilst they know the score and help yuou on a biggy. But mosty likely they are cunts to whom you are just a number or a pawn towards helping them make money off a more experienced candidate - they usually have an ideal candidate and usually won't tell you that it's just a jumping hoops exercise as far as you are concerned.

4) reschedule all direct employer interviews the day before. why ? While in a job You have very linmited time and you need to know that you use this effectively. Understand the stregnths of your CV and experience whilst admitting your weaknesses in relation to the job ad'. Try to get a fuller job spec/desc. from personnel in advance. What you need to know is how keen they are on you versus the whole numbers and screening that some company's SOPs demand. They will be coy on how good a candidate you are, but

Be a litte arrogant. Don't be shy- this is situatiion normal for interwierers - sickness, sudden meetings, no shows....

In advance find out the names of the key person(s) interviewing you and try to talk to them direct, apologising and sayin you were really intereested. See if they know about you /give a shit. Refer to personnel for an actual reascheduling. Offer to take it on the phone. Cancel the day before for that time, no matter when it is. Ask if it can be rescheduled because you have a meeting. If they say it is going on over a few days then maybe ask how many they are seeing. 20 +?? Try to find out just how much they care about your application. If all else fails and it sounds like a great job with a good shout for you, then try and reschedule til later or earlier that day or the next. In probing like this you will have uncovered how interested they are in you!

I reckon on average it takes me about five interviews at employers to scrabble out one job, which may be just the best I coudl get at that time. If I knew in advance then okay, I\d still go to five interviews but those would all be high quality with me as a good candidate and NOT AN ALSO RAN!! I've never been good at looking for jobs within jobs because it is hard and also you can loose motivation and patience with recruitment consultants and inflexible @ must see 20 mailto:candidate@.

5) Try and do any dodgey or long distance first interviews with employers on the phone or outside working hours /flexitime friendly. Use the above or just say it is too hard to work in your schedule. The number of first interviews I travelled 500 miles for just to find out it was cr5ap or a salesy job or make a booboo in is just unbelievable.

5)b) don\t travel to far flung interviews, or even over 50 miles each way, who don't pay travel expenses. It is just mean. As a graduate you will need to do this and get the dole to pay for you to go to selection days in the home counties, but sod it once you have your first step job. Red carpet should atleast be in the cupboard!

6) leave a business card and pick up business cards. You may have a university business card from networking days or just your company's with your mobile on it. A business card is a little bit of gold dust whilst CVs are wieghty private documents. This is especially the case when goign through recruitment consultants. Many, many employers run around recrutiment consutlants when padding out recruitment later/ so they may interview you for a sales job and call you back for a marketing job some months later. I\ve had my two besty career making jobs this way!!

5) get some form of continuation. This could be a delviery of some more details on your background, examples of your work etc. Something which is either an excuse for you to call up and be nice to them or to be called back to 2nbd interview.

6) Before you accept a job, get it all in writing and get your references accepted. This is a real warning and in fact has probably caught out most job moving marketers like myself. go so far as to Find an internal chum who can give the reference when you leave.

Also understand all that comes with the new job in terms of relocation and logistics. At this stage you want to avoid exposing yourself to a lot of risk, and given a substantial move across the land then negoitate relocation. Even accept lower pay for the first six months, just get them to cover the cost of a hotel or decent B^B or a serviced appartment. As with organon in Bucks, there was nowehere affordable in the area unless it was "rent a room out". Get them to pay and make sure it is unconditional i.e. if you hate the job or perform badly then you don\t pay it back.

I have been eally financially stung two times with moves / the one very uncofomfortable recently where I moved my whole family and the bosses diodn\t like me!! They agreed to a loan and I got the dole to pay the lorry over here, but shit! Previoulsy though I did take my career making job in manchester and it worked out a good investment. I did get a over a month in b&B but had to buy a reasonably reliable car amongst other things.

7)Stall the new employer within reason > a few days to organise references (wait if you can to disclose who they are as it buys time and secures the most relevant persons) >a week to discuss it with your spouse or just think about it over the weekend after the reference check > need to see it in writing, maybe questiona few things <>For example you may be a field product specialist while they have no internal product managers and use marketign comms people with no technical background. This is a good lever to come in as a newly created PM/ APM

9) , when you sign up and resign , and you are about to start in the new job, come into a pre/emptive meeting, as above, and discuss or rather thrash out what you will actually be doing and any training you will need. In the run up to a new emnployee starting there is usually a meeting the week just before where the boss discusses what the newbei will actually do and of course announces their arrival. This is where, especially for the would be marketing assisant or APM, the monkeys get cast oiff other peoples backs. Now there is a certain amount of being nice and mucking in with the team, but a lot more plain piss taking goes on at this stage. A pre/emptive strike where you outline the type of things you want, what they expect, the projects and on goign routines etc and you can make it clear that you didnn't do an MSc to make tea and clean the database.

What I am trying to say is be very aware that marketing departments or ad agencies are a tangle of conflicting interests, ambitions, egos and changing situations. The whole thing is very dynamic and you can put a very positive spin when you come in, especially as you have an MSc. If however this is your first job, then I am afraid you will need to most likely suck on the mouldy cock of the shitty stick/. In the context of it being your 2nd or later , career making job, then get as much agreed in forehand.

In an ad' agency there will be a variety of clients you could maybe work with, so getting an idea of which in advance is vital otherwise you will be in shitty end of the stick land. Be positive here, find out who they work for and try to show your highest interest in one, not to the detriment of another. There are always a loty of politics in marketing and precious little mary's not actually performing, so if you show interest and motivation, the monkey can be dumped on someone elses back. So for example, the GUS catalogue or web site gets dumped on competant but unimaginative and dull Debra while you get to work on the Porsche account!

.......and finally .......

Given a minimum legal resignation period you can even accept a new job then tell them it is all goign terribly wrong and stay on in your current work with the employer oblivious to it all.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

For the University of Strathclyde, once great public empire of a 'fylke" - student of marketing MSC or generous today, BSC

>Okay, how about a quick tour of summary of what you should do with your career.

Make a goal. Understand the steps.

Get a job, mayeb any old marketing assistant job ANYWHere you can wherein you are guaranteed some relevant experience and a sale-ablke job title.

Then get a better JOB!

Alternatively you may want to go through sales which is fine and you should be looking to either get into HQ or change companies within 18 months. It may take shorter or longer. Network into the marketing department well, hide you MSc, and if you get looked over for a job there, threaten personnel to leave

Now stick out your CAREER MAKING JOB for between two and four years. Be quick to recognise if the job isn't this. Negotiate into your job the projects and responsibilities you know take you forward and challenge you enough. Avoid gettingn monkeys on youyr back. Get many projects under your belt and show any success from these. Hopefully there will be room for promotion and you should be stroppy if they are going to recruit from outside above you.

Now either thrive in the next level of job, move back to Scotland or whatever.

For people-management experience, GO UGLY EARLY . Find an unglamerous company who need a marketing manager with at least three "direct reports" ie. underlings.

Learn to handle sales maangers. Perhaps work a while as a sales manager if you get the chance or in a smaller company where you are sales and marketing manager / director.

Then get into something new , early. Maybe in an enterprise company or as an adviser to Venture Captial or the like. Get into a new, well funded venture early or just a great idea!

This latter point is a good idea from the word go actually. Or forming your own company.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Sales as a Career Route

For the marketing MSc student from strathclyde university 2007-9.

If you are really set on staying in Scotland, or some other 'wing' of the country which lacks marketing departments, then sales is a very definite option.

Also, from your extensive research (!) into career routes in your chosen area you may have come clanging into the plain factor that a sales job is vital as the first step or couple of steps: I'm thinking here product management within B2B or other areas like travel/tourism, insurance etc.

Is drinking your joy? Beer and spirits get sold at all sorts of levels and so working on a pub-pub basis can lead to account management with Guiness Distillers and so to marketing there in!

From the point of view that marketing jobs are like blue moons in scotland, sales rougly relating to the area you want to work in, or with an acknowledged brand name, can be a good waiting room. In fact it will put you in pole position for many jobs and entry to various career routes which are more or less impossible without work experience.

Strategically thinking also about your career - people management

If you really want to get up the ladder in larger companies or into leadership in new starts, spin outs and gasselle companies then you will need to have man-management experience. This means being a line manager, hiring and firing, doing admin for your "reports", steering meetings, collating results from your reports, doing annual reviews and generally making underlings lifes miserable with challenge management and 'change is the only constant'.

Many, many marketing people lack man-management per se as avbing line-reports. Like me, I have had big project responsibility, maybe 15 people involved, but never actual line reports! As a PM or marketing assistant manager aspirant, you may well find your hopes dashed by the company bringing in new blood who have 'people-pushed'. This can mean dicks from other industries who are wiley enough to get you to make them look good despite their lackings.

Beware the leap froggers!
On this point also, you may well land a job as a marketing assistant in a big firm, with the presumption that you will get progress after a couple of years- ONLY to find out that they promote people to PM and other positions from sales with or without marketing qualifications. You should sound out the ground on this ...but be careful - take the marketing job by all means - it is your core career- but maybe have a detour into sales to get into PM for example - or infact really the core of product marketing. For other functions, like e-business or CRM you may also find you are back in the qeue whilst people desperate to get out of sales lever their way in!

Why bother?
I guess a heck of a lot of marketing grad's work in sales as their first job and either keep it as a lifestyle option or move up the ladder as a career. It is by no means a back water career, but don't forget that if you don't apply your learning in marketing MSc within a couple of years, then it begins to go out of mind. You can refresh with CIM or courses in e-marketing etc.

As I have said earlier, a sales job with out and out persuading people to give you the time of day and in addition to listening to them and getting your ideas acceptd is brilliant preparation for a wider career in marketing or other functions for that matter.

A more project oriented position, say account executive in marketing services, or e-business will equip you with skills and detailed 'hands on' delivery which will stand you in good stead or be a great career anyway.

So what type of sales job ?

You really want to be working in a "professional" job related to your first degreeo perhaps, marketing services or general interest. Find out about the supply chain of products and services relating to your interests and qualifications- it could be in books, trianing, IKT, chemistry, analysis, you name it everything a business needs is sold by someone, and a good deal of other crap they think they need.
What to look for:

  • If there is any significant travel then it should come with a car ( DON*T BUY YOUR OWN CAR!! it doesn't work out to your advantage)
  • There should be a significant element of formal training with in field training NOT just 'car park conferances' with your boss. You should be trained in products/services by te experts. Sales training should ideally be SPIN or other formulated and evaluated techniques.
  • There should be a well established customer base AND/OR
  • an exiciting new product
  • A good, simple CRM system for you to use as a tool
  • a clear benefit and position in the market
  • realistic pricing
  • Good marketing support
  • career development potential OR
  • you can move into marketing with the competition or customers!


  • significant in house training of up to 6 weeks at HQ
  • internal sales i.e. telesales and meeting bookers who cold call for you
  • good brands
  • some loyal repeat business customers
  • "pitch" or tender preparation work ( good for marketing later)
  • good basic salary over 14K
  • a clear career path
  • lots of fellow trainees
  • getting in an exciting company early with a good offering in the market with good margin yet excellent and easily apparent customer benefits.
  • a significant maketing department with a PM function and decent budget
  • a marketing department/HQ in a place you would like to live
  • Or a competitor with HQ in say Scotland.
  • Others who have trodd the same path into marketing or customers/suppliers marketing.

It could be you start in a job doing telesales and reactive sales in house before moving out to a territory job. It may happen that you have either been sidelined from a marketing job inteview ( 14 hour round trip for this myself to remploy, tossers or should I say biacch!) or going to a sales job dressed up as marketing, a marketing job with some sales or a small company who decided shoe leather is worth more than your grey matter in the office! These are all acceptable IF the job takes you towards your career goal.

What to avoid:

  • Companies who do not pay your travel expenses to interview
  • telesales to, or door to door with consumers ie households
  • Google, yellow pages or the phone book as your CRM system
  • commission only jobs
  • otherwise lots of promises and might happens with regards to the job and the company
  • mostly cold calling to new potential customers
  • companies with poor finances ( loss more than two of the last five years and growth under 5%)
  • A CRM / Sales management system that wakes you up and asks if you have sold anything by 10am ( seriously, it's out there on lap tops!)
  • Companies vulnerbale or currently the subject of takeover bids on the stock market
  • commodity product sellers
  • companies with sales management calls to far off time sones ie evening conference calls to the states all the e3ffing time
  • Photocopy companies
  • selling advertising space
  • very "me too" in office, IT or financial products
  • a poorly defined benefit situation
  • unknown brands
  • shoddy carpets, bad coffee- shitty little grotty companies (marblehead for instance)
  • overpriced business services or overpriced products
  • being the sole sales trainee with no mates on the course/intake
  • having a huge terratory and being expected to work it.
  • very niche products with spread out and few customers
  • arrogant, overbearing, controlling sales bosses
  • -- -- a sense of arrogance about the place in general
  • (sales oriented companies with little marketing)
  • re-sellers ( most often to be avoided, but some can be a good or only career move towards their suppliers or customers e.g. packaged beers)
Biology First Degree?

So if it is within biology, then research tools or biotech products would probably be the first "in". But medical sales can be a bit of a hassel- dragging round hospitals or GP surgeries and getting the cold shoulder all the time. Selling to vets or dentists can be easier, although the terratories are often bigger. With most of these type of proff' representative you can bet that the 80:20 pareto formula rules, certainly with new business growth, so can focus on the " low hanging fruit". These type of jobs often recruit new graduates and I have written before on how to get around the old "sales or marketing?" question. It can pay to be in sales or customer services , even in a shop which needs to give service, as a temporary job while you push yourself through all these interviews. It shows you are willing to work and meet people at least

The interview process can be gruelling. You can expect a fair bit of rejection from recruiting consultants ( the usual first screen) but perciviere and learn what to say by experience and feedback from them. They will then get you infront of the regional sales manager for your prospective "patch" and then you will no doubt get invited to a 'selection day'. One I went to had an evening event before which was actually terrifying to begin with- a team building exercise with toy bits ( a well known belgian pharma company with a gorgeous UK personnel manager!) . You will be grilled to see how you respond to difficult situations and they will undoubtedlty pick on your MSc in marketing. ( astra zeneca were very pro MSc Strathclyde though ten years ago)

Marketing services: sales and account executive roles:

PR, advertising, direct mail, internet, CRM, e-business, training, marketing consultancy, market research....

Now these can be a bit trickier to get into, because there is a lot more demand when it comes to 'advertising agency' land. People stand in a queu to work 16 hour days delivering the latest crappy ad' in the locals for toyota or Lidl.... also people work even longer hours doing the account bit for anything advertised on TV. To get ahead in this queu, those savey are taking a 'temp' job or career route into a smaller agency or a specialist in say, Direct Marketing or media space buying. The big agencies suck them in, and I'll say this only one more time, You Don't Have to DO A YEAR before you get up in the world by changing job!!! McCanns for example were fed up taking in graduates who went through their two years of training courses, experience and probabation only to leave. So they took folk from small, hectic agencies or other big TV agencies looking to move. Think Pole position once again.....

These jobs can be both highly rewarding and very demanding. You can easily see your client 3pm, drive an hour back to the office and find yourself writing up reports or even managing designers long into the evening whilst the client side Sod swans off at 5.01pm!

Rewards though- yes. In my jobs within agency and consultancy land I would say that the learning was richer and the job actually a lot less frustrating than being in a large marketing department with many egos! Often you get to swing in and do the juicy bit of marketing- creative briefing, graphic design management, going to printers, dealing with the press and various under-suppliers of goods, services, design.

The hands on and 'can do' experience, plus the exposure to the ACTUAL price /costs of the nitty gritty can stand you in fantastic stead for any "client side" job. Also it is of course a route into starting your own business, often as a partnership with creatives you get along famously with. One man bands ( sweetapple PR for example) are great fun and often work within other agencies walls or in small, funky warehouse hotdesk places with other new starts and creative resources.

specialists abound

For any given area of 'expertise' there is probably a marketing agency or six which boast specialism in a field or another. Biotech, computer games, sports name it. Alternatively there may be a big agency wit a specialist client or division, like at McCanns, who would be very interested in your competanse with regards to account management, or other support such as writing, proof reading and sourcing images etc etc.

In the Sticks...

Marketing services also are to be found in the 'provinces' i.e. there are local ad'agencies and even some national ones out in the sticks. If you struggle to find them or are clever at networking, then ask some local newspaper media sellers (easy to find!) what local creative agencies there are and start networking. The manchester area is a very rich region for small full service B2B and consumer "shops" and new media specialists. They have enough customers (marketing departments) to sustain critical mass whereas scotland lacks so relatively good a market for such wares ( which is partly scottish enterprises/LEC/locate in scoland's "bad").

In a local yocal company doing newspaper ad's, direct mail, web sites etc you could do well by offering a six week work experience trial, gratis, or doing your 2008 summer MSc project with them if they are relevant. Beware very small agencies. 6 employees would be a good starting point. Use this to either get a job there or spring board to your next stepping stone.

Market Research Bureaus
A very rich seam for direct entry from marketing study are the market research companies. Millward Brown and TNS Gallup are the biggies and have both interviewed me several times. They paid travel too. This is a really great career move because you get to use your noggin and also you get project management experience and also to really make a difference in supplying data, analysis, ideas and suggestions at a strategic level. It is much under exploited by MSc students because of their 'agarophobia' on the wide world south of shawlands! In scotland it is really cinderellas wee chubby mousey haired sister when I was last looking as far as profile and career worth!

At the end of the day is it really so tough??

Well it depends a lot on you and it can of course develop a new-you! Take my ex Gill, a sy retiring type up and till she took a sales job and came right out of her shell after a year selling limited edition prints and frames.

In a business/marketing services job, i.e. account management/exec roles you will need to be a good listener and note taker and good at organising and relating actions to people in your team. You will also need to be good at spotting opportunities and being very civil and even sociable with yyour clients. you shoulld be good at engenering trust in others, and building working relationships. You can expect a good working environment, but quite long hours because of the 'preparing and aving meetings followed by organising' nature of the job. Avoid a wide geographic terrartory, or many demanding "distance customers" if you want a life. A good deal of flair, organisation, self confidence and interpersonal skills are needed in the outset.

In a professionals product sales ( medical, print, value added IT/software, biotech, chemicals etc etc) you should as mentioned avoid a job at your level with a lot of cold calling. You should have some customers who are significant sources of revenue now and can be developed. You should have support in finding and qualifying new customers and pitching for their business. Generally these jobs are often a bit of a drudge actually and dogged types often thrive because they just eat thorugh the CRM and customer enquiries and orders and their workflows and potential needs. These are however most of the jobs relevant to PM roles. They vary in drudery and hours you need to work and travel, but you can get out into marketing in say 18 months to two years or even earlier if the chance arises.

Other sales jobs demand much more hard nosed resilience and brutal determination -and ability to flirt, which is why they often go to bitchy or slutty types! I mean jobs with a lot of cold calling and maybe a poorly differentiated product or bad pricing in a competitive market. Knowing te type who I studied with, I doubt many took or lasted in such jobs like selling ad space or photocopy machines.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

What to Expect in Your Marketing Career?

for the strathclyde university marketing MSc student 2007-8.

It is worth pointing out though that throughout the text these are the highly personal and possibly idiosyncratic views held by DF.

What you expect coming out of MSc and what my year actually got was probably a lot to do with the labour market in 93 but I don't think it is any less competitive, even if there are more companies and all the new media and use of IT within marketing.

However once you land your first job you can find it the opposite of a competitive opportunity for you to utilise your MSc and climb the ladder. It can quite frankly be stifling to either work in a small company or in a narrow position in a big one.

Marketing is the visible fruits and self image of a company at the glamerous end of what they do. If production and QA are pittsburg and detroit, then marketing is hollywood. This means there is a lot of neurosis about everything and no room to be precious. You should learn quickly to be objective about campaigns, images, writing etc and even to the extent you refer to your own work in the second or third person.

If you are really ambitious then you have to get on a career ladder which says the right things about you. In other words, you have to clothe yourself in a brand within your chosen area. I really struggled after my first contract job with the Kings theatre, (which was a great wee job), and it really took time for me to get back on my feet. I had to comprimise and take risk later in life- I mean moving and buying a car for business use and accepting an underaverage salary just to get back on track. I would advise avoiding taking big risks such as I have with expensive relocations. As I said a hundred times...get a job THEN get a BETTER ONE!!

Okay , so what will you do at a new job?

Well, well now my unsuspecting lambs. This actually begins in earnest in the little grey area between your verbal offer and you begining in your job- at any level! When your arrival is anticipated by other prospective colleagues, they will quickly start dumping monkeys on your back...tea making, cleaning included. Worst, in a small company you will get real rubbish or actually end up in a sales support or telesales role which was originally advertised as an assistant product manager. Alternatively, like when I was at McCanns, you will get a career-hack shooting for more management responsibility, swinging in as your new boss on their selected projects. very clear on asking for definitions of what you will be doing not only in broad brush but in some detail through the interview process. Asking intelligent questions will actually show your involvement, neigh, engagement with the role. Finding out what is not there in writing or what is vague, and also which tasks take up most time is vital when you consider if you will take the job, which as I recommend is probably in the expensive south east.

Further......use the whole offer process as a time to consolidate and reaffirm that which you will have responsibility for, who you will work with and what YOU DON*T want to do or rather, where your stregnths lie. Make sure you meet your daily boss or functional cow-erker. You can stall the process quite naturally, by "deligted to accept in principle" . Exclude your references if you can up until offer time, this is a good stalling technique and gets them out of offering it to number two by sheer embarressment factor. Offer to come in and meet the team and sign up there and then. Say you have to think about things. Buy time, because this then forces them to accept some of your (minor!) demands so as to avoid going through the whole selection process again...which no decently busy marketeer wants to effing do. Ask your immediate boss, what a day in the life of the future you may be like.

And what will " a day in life of " be like`?


okay, not creative enough to talk about an idealised day, but maybe in more general terms....for a client side job:

  • necessary training : software, new procedures etc- 10%-20% in the first year or two.
  • unecessary training: 10-80% of your first two weeks. 10% at any one year.
  • sales meetings and conferences, travel thereof : inordinate amounts of time in the run up period or if sales management are in a modd to beat up on the soft target, marketing. In a year, maybe 30% of your time on average will be taken up with the Gareth Cheesmans and their omega driving, sweaty middleaged sales bosses.
  • report writing and budgeting: 20-30%, more of course in some jobs
  • General admin: 20%
  • socialising, chatting 20% exc. lunch
  • surfing the web aimlessly and contacting mates, running hobbies etc. 10%

okay, so far are we probably at 145% and wait a minute, we have actually not done any marketing!!

So comes

  • writing plans from new, for product launches, campaigns, strategies- 15%
  • rewriting plans "" not to your bosses satisfaction 15%
  • Cut and pasting from earlier plans so as to produce something everyone likes the look and sound of 15%
  • unneccessary internal marketing department meetings, reviews, war rooms, and worst of all, team building. 25% annually
  • uneccessary interdepartmental meetings 20%
  • uneccessary supplier presentation or hot air meetings 20%
  • product administration 20%
  • doing the catalogue....110%..........

Which leaves about -200% for steering the fruits of marketing:

  • doing sexy, marketing stuff, like briefing ad agencies and having brainstormings in far flung locations- 1%
  • market research, always a cinderella, 2% and poorly used time at that.
  • making a difference to the company 0.5%

Okay, so I joke a little, but in some organisations you could quite easily spend only 25% of your time doing anything with actual 'marketing' output.

But you will probably in fact in a multinational company, be "working" almost 150%. All those conference calls to california and the like, extra travel, extra feels like it as to have inroads into all the other departments ( apart from accountancy and purcasing usually) and most other departments want a piece to the shit slinging towards marketing when they can. The birds tend to be prettier in marketing, so expect cc in to most any old meeting other departments can drag you into.

Internal training tends to be a bag of shite, so it's worth avoiding anything you won't benefit from and just going on external courses.

Worse for me as a fairly skeptical type, there is a lot of socialising in many, many marketing departments and "new kid" will maybe get the cold shoulder for a while, or the converse, be expected or feel obliged to go to everything. I've been on the outside and inside of a few gangs in marketing / advertising and both have draw backs. The smokers club, as featured in "friends" is also very alive and well and making decisions which were supposedly refered to 'strategic meetings'

Now you begin to wish you had taken that sales job, work from home and after your first year have worked out that only existing customers and really keen enquirers actually buy. So can work a four to five hour day whenever the boss isn't looking.

How would a perfect waiting room yab look like?

You would need some time alone, free web access and opportunity to travel. Otherwise it would need to be part time.

It should not be a struggle to commute to and it should not use too many hours of overtime.

God, what if it came with a car and umonitored internet access?

Yep that's where I'm at.
Where is the ideal?

I kind of need to do another MOSCOW thing, but also to actually focus on who I want to move to and where.

I think my next move will come actually through networking and direct contact, but recruitment idiots will have some 'innspeil' in this. What I mean to say is that I will leave my business card a few places via whatever initiative.

I should also go on gut feeling. I knew I'd get this because I was seeking the unglamerous and was positive about the location. NILU felt like an uncomfortable commute.

I'm thinking drammen. I'm thinking incubation and high tech' or internet search engines.
The Working Day

I can barely imagine a less glamerous place to work. I suppose Mblhead up in milngavie was a less sulubrious locale, but it had some eye candy (serious!) and also was near to woods etc. This set up fixes my commuting problem here and is fine all round.

Workplace environment and cow-orkers are seemingly "also ran" 's in the job decision process. Location, pay and 'new challenges' are first in the list, but for me it was often what the heck I could actually get. A combination of what fell in my lap and some quality letters fixed me up in the delusion of career I had.

It seems when the boot is on the other foot it is more what a candidate DOESN'T stand out for and what they are NOT which gets them selected. Candidates are usually qualified and screened. Most could do the job and if they turn up on time, then they can at least play-act that they are highly motivated. So it goes to the person with the least problems, or as a boss, that is tightly knitted to picking the puppies...the bird with the biggest tits gets the job.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Take the MOSCOW approach to it then dampers...

next job move I mean to say.

Must Have, Should Have...could be nice...and would have it it did have should have...



flexitime and time in lieu for weekends
People with a better sense of humour than this and IVGN jobs.
a large marketing content ..classically with both comms and research, and product management
some strategic input
some travel internationally

Very little cold-calling

Pay relative to buying a house.

EITHER - a good high level, a good career move OR chance for advancement / a big step towards goals in ownership/growth following

(Within this year- ) within easy reach of public transport
a reasonable office environment or a groovy location

EYE candy!!! either in office or building

A boss who cuts me loose

A good defined ansvarsområdet

Should have:

little if any selling or cold sales

People management
Supplier Management
Licensing / patenting / partner agreements

An expandable ansvarsområdet

Someone to put monkeys off my back

training for sales

Products and services

COULD have

a bit more sales as well as marketing
a move to a new area / vestland
some other responsibilities eg NPI, patenting, supplier management

training in new responsibilities eg innkjøp


IF underlings, chance to hire/fire and eye candy potential
IF sales, fully spared out time from all travel outside 8-5.
IF sales > 25% a car, or a bloody car anyway
IF advancement potential a clear route to shares