Are you making art or peddling widgets?

This is a powerful video. What are we leaving behind? Hopefully, more than just a bunch of marketing acronyms and SEO rich content. Make some art friends.

College students majoring in social media? 5 reasons this is really bad.

College students are now declaring majors in social media.

I haven’t looked over the curriculum for a major like this, but I have concerns. Why should you care about my concerns?

  • I’m a social media dork and work in digital marketing.
  • I’ve co-founded a course on social media for MBA candidates.
  • I only write about things I do. I’m not great at pontificating.

It’s a blended major of graphic design, communications, business and marketing, psychology and statistics.

I agree with this approach. I’ve blogged about it recently. Marketing requires a diverse set of skills. But, I think this is a bad move.

1. There are already too many marketers that don’t understand marketing.

Social media is a marketing tactic. You can’t only do social media. A social media strategy without a solid marketing strategy around it is doomed to fail. It’s like ordering salad dressing without the salad.

Marketing is already watered down.

73% of CEOs think marketers don’t understand basic business terminology and objectives.

Scary, right? (data is here)

Why in the world would we continue to stretch our profession even thinner when we are dealing with a perception problem?

2. Social media does not work by itself.

You can’t make a rock sexy. If your product doesn’t meet customer needs, social media won’t help you. Marketers need an understanding of the functions of product management, sales, customer service and operations. Silos aren’t very successful.

The primary goal of marketing is to drive sales.

Period. Exclamation point. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. There are millions of ways to do this and they don’t all involve spamming promo codes and limited time deals. You can drive sales by being customer focused (Zappos, Gary V, etc.). You can drive sales through content marketing (Hubspot).

But, if you think for a second that bringing in dollars doesn’t matter, keep collecting those LinkedIn endorsements for your pending job search.

3. The bread slicer wasn’t a huge success.

The sliced bread was. You’re majoring in the usage of tools and tactics deployed on those tools. Tools change. You need to understand the core concepts of marketing and how to apply them to any medium.

Understanding and execution trump knowledge of the networks.

The best SEO / SEM guys understand content and storytelling better than you do. Mastering the tools by which they deliver content is secondary to the mastery of manipulating the content to be user-focused.

4. Many executives will always fear social media.

This isn’t changing. No matter how many books, keynotes, studies, or infographics are created. There is an inherent fear of entering a world where there appears to be a greater loss of control for many folks. The way to overcome this is by having a thorough understanding of traditional marketing and being a change agent within an organization. By establishing that comfort level and shared knowledge, you can gradually do more with social media.

For most organizations, it isn’t either / or. It requires a tactful mix of old and new.

5. There will be another social media.

The .com bubble happened. Everyone loved Web 2.0. Social media is the latest darling. The biggest shift has already happened though. Surprisingly, not a ton of folks are paying attention to it.

You are defined by your product and your people.

Revolutionary? Nah, common sense. But, if your product sucks, customers think you suck. If your people suck, customers know you suck.

Who you hitch your career to is extremely important. More than ever, I’d argue. You’re defined by the experiences you have. You can do something you consider to be exciting and sexy for ACME, Inc. or you can bust your hump showing that you drive value and try to start doing more exciting and sexy things at a great company.

Communication is a constant. Social media is changing at a rapid pace. Something better will come along. It will become more and more seamless. Soon, you’ll be naked. People will know who you are. They’ll know what you’re capable of. They’ll know the warts of your product. You’ll be standing in front of the classroom naked. Tweeting. Sharing. And, eventually crying when you are asked to show the value you’re adding.

This isn’t new stuff. A class in social media should be required at every major university. I’d argue that a major is the wrong approach though. If we had mastered our output of great marketers and the business world was saturated – sure, go ahead and make them social media majors. But, most marketers still don’t get it.

Can we fix that first?

It may not dramatically increase applicants as fast. It may not bring in the immediate tuition dollars. But, if companies see that you’re producing results-driven marketers, that’s the boat you want to be in.

Who is even hiring these social media “experts” without solid business or marketing experience?

Image: mindaugasdanys

Another horrible social media use case is unfolding live

Follow it here on Facebook. Edit: the page is now removed, but a search of Pigalle Boston will retrieve tons of screenshots.

Pigalle Boston vs. an angry customer

Note: This is a screenshot of the public Facebook conversation and not an endorsement or indictment of either party.

 

Read more about this story and view Chef Marc’s response.

Balancing ambition and frustration

Are you satisfied?

Do you ever ask yourself that? Seriously?

I find that more often than not, we are never satisfied. It isn’t about money. It isn’t about power. It isn’t about greed.

Ambition can drive you crazy.

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Sure, there is a new challenge there. But, a year from now – you’ll be back here.

You’ll be wondering how to turn your ambition into the next great career move. The next relationship. The next personal achievement.

We’re taking it one game at a time.

An overused sports cliché. I always forget how to make that é. I have to search for it and copy and paste every time. I should learn more code. Why don’t I have that memorized? I probably use it five times per year and have to go to Google each time. I’m lame. There I go again.

But, are we taking it one game at a time? Are you assessing the wins and losses on a daily basis to see that no matter how much we think it sucks, that we’re making progress. If we’re smart, we can take the things that got the best of us and improve on them in the second half. A lame sports analogy, but it works for me.

Thanksgiving is over. Now we go back to work. We go back to the grind. We go back to forgetting to tell the people we care about what we’re thankful for. We’ll save those up for Thanksgiving next year.

Someone else is dying to be where you are now.

Do you ever think about that? With all of our insecurities and imperfections, there are others who would lose a limb to trade places with us. But, life is miserable when you only get 95% of that bonus. Things are tough when you can’t leave the office at 5pm every day.

I’m guilty of this.

I’m driven… to a fault. I bang my head against the wall a ton. But, I think I have a coping mechanism after years of doing this.

Ambition is a drug that makes its addicts potential madmen.
Emile M. Cioran

Channel that energy towards positive things.

Crush your job. That is a constant. But, use the ambitious energy to do other things in your time away from work. Build something. Work on a startup. Help people. Write letters. Love more. Talk more. Spend more time with your family. Teach your child something new.

Take the freakin’ time to pay attention to what is around you.

I’m guilty. I’m thankful for the folks who punch me in the face to make me realize that though. We only live once. Suck it up and file the negative things away. Use your brain [and heart] to do something great instead of moping.

Ambition can be a bitch. Don’t let it get you down.

A rant on marketing, writing and technical skills

Most marketers are not prepared for today’s job requirements.

Marketing is not glamorous.

WHAT THEY THINK MARKETING IS WHAT MARKETING IS
Creative brainstorming A balancing act between Sales, IT, Product and Creative
A think tank not concerned with the Sales team The front line of Sales responsible for driving leads
Using social media several hours a day Matching social activity to business goals in the free 15 minutes you have
Writing catchy slogans and sayings Working with multiple teams to eliminate fluff and be transparent
Handing ideas off to teams to build them Inputting copy into a CMS, tweaking code and escalating issues

This is not Mad Men. This is not The Pitch. Even agencies aren’t as glamorous as you think (shhh!).
Most marketers are not ready for a job in marketing

Marketing is a grind. It requires exceptional people skills that never seem to be fully addressed in job reqs. It requires understanding who to talk to, what to say, how to frame your interactions, how to handle breaking bad news and matching the interpersonal skills with maniacal project management.

Much is made of the age of transparency. Now, you can’t polish a crappy product with nice messages or design. Users, customers and your employees will see right through that. Marketing takes a backseat to Product.

Yes. Marketing takes a backseat. Your success as a marketer is strongly correlated to the success of the product you represent. You do look into that before you take a job right?

Marketing requires you to sort through fluff, not create more.

It requires effective copy, regardless of role.

Marketing also requires technical skills.

If you can’t edit simple HTML, you may not get the job. It isn’t complicated to learn. Write a post in WordPress and click HTML (beside Visual in the top left of your post). Your job will require you to tweak things and break them until you fix them.

You’ll likely be involved with a CMS (content management system). Many times, this won’t be what you hope it will be – not all companies use WordPress, Drupal or Joomla. You’ll have to learn that too. You can learn HTML in CSS in 30 days for free.

Most importantly…

Marketing requires stellar understanding of how to create and execute campaigns.

What are the business goals?

What are the KPIs (key performance indicators)?

What are the gates / milestones you’re trying to hit?

What is your hypothesis (marketing is scientific, dummy)?

How will you execute?

What contingency plans need to be considered?

What does success look like?

What happens if you fail?

How do you report out progress to the broader team?

What does your dashboard look like?

What do you want to communicate at the end of the campaign?

Where is the failure point?

Is it education? Is it training? Is it not having enough challenging internships?

I’m not quite sure. But, I know that my advice to anyone trying to grow in a marketing career is to demonstrate significant experience in all marketing skills, writing, technical matters (even if just HTML) and be able to communicate that value.

Honestly, I think a lot of folks don’t know exactly what to look for.

It isn’t just me.

I’ve talked to multiple marketing leaders, CMOs, entrepreneurs and business leaders. Marketing tends to get a bad reputation. We have to work to change that. Demonstrate that you don’t fit in the prescribed marketing box and push to make things better.

The lines between marketing, product, UX, design and development are blurring.

It is time to adjust accordingly.

Image via almira_a (CC)