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.

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