Graduation season is approaching. Every year, high school seniors who are about to enter college or join the workforce reach out to me to ask about marketing.
“What is the state of marketing? What can I do to get started in marketing? What’s the one or two things I should do when I’m interviewing? How should I be able to work as a marketer? What’s it like in marketing today?”
My answers combine things that are important to me and drives success for our clients at MASSolutions.
It comes down to this. ... Anyone working in marketing today has a bias toward either the quantifiable or the art.
No matter how someone has been raised, or what era they’re in, the time of their upbringing definitely gives them a bias.
Someone who came of age in the 1970s, ’80s or ’90s is more biased toward creative art and branding.
People who came of age with the internet tend to be biased more toward the quantifiable.
But even within that, there are people that still have a bias regardless of their age, one way or another.
The goal as a marketer is to leverage the science – the behavioral science, the quantifiable aspect – and the creative art. We must try to have that blend be as close as you can to 50/50 or 60/40 instead of, say, 80/20 or 90/10.
People still get hung up on whatever they were taught, how they were raised, what was going on when they were in college or during their first job and second job. They’re not able to see that perhaps they’re focusing too much on the “quant” aspect. Others still focus too much on the brand aspect or the creative aspect.
Too many times I’ve seen someone who was quantifiable trying to do something that would be selling in a storytelling aspect. They just weren’t able to pull it off.
Other times, I’ve seen someone that was so far down the path of the creative, that they thought sales was icky, and they weren’t able to succeed because they weren’t able to understand the top and bottom line.
The blend of those approaches is one key aspect that college and high school graduates need to think about when they’re going into marketing.
Another key factor within the marketing food chain in the organization – whether it’s involving the marketing specialist, marketing analyst, account executive, creative designer, creative director, video person, chief marketing officer – is they have to show that there’s a plan around marketing Return on Investment (ROI).
That ties to having strategic marketing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and tactical marketing metrics.
A KPI is something that you actually can give to anyone in the organization and they can understand it.
I consider four strategic marketing KPIs as “must haves.”
The lifetime value, which would apply to the patient if it’s in health care or the customer in other industries, or the client in business to business.
Another KPI is customer acquisition cost. What does it cost to acquire a customer?
And then the ratio of those to the lifetime value of that customer, divided by the customer acquisition costs, can show you a ratio. You want this ratio to be around 3:1 or 4:1.
Finally, there is the Net Promoter Score (NPS), a loyalty metric used in marketing to measure the number of satisfied customers and the average degree of satisfaction. Loyalty drives growth.
So, what do I tell those graduates seeking input and advice?
If you want to stay in this field, then help this field, help this discipline, help marketing be respected by others. It’s not just doing something on social media. It’s not just a cool video. It’s not just your Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Marketing is a discipline that deserves a seat at the leadership table.
And the way to do that is to show them that we have strategic marketing KPIs and tactical marketing metrics and also to convince them that not everything in the company is trackable in any of the disciplines.
There’s not an ROI to everything that the finance department does.
There’s not an ROI to everything that the operations department does.
There’s not an ROI to everything the human capital talent acquisition function does.
It’s just not completely trackable.
We have to be passionate and confident to say, “Yes, we’re going to have a system track marketing ROI, and we’re going to do our best, and we’re going to come back and look at those numerics, look at those metrics, and we’re going to adjust how we do that things based on that.”
My congratulations to graduates at the high school level who are going to go into college, and those that are going to marketing for your major, I hope this was of value, too.
And I want to congratulate the seniors in college who are graduating and are going to enter the field to begin their career.
My goal is to see people live marketing passionately and get the same values out of marketing that I’ve received because I’ve been a part of this amazing, amazing field.
David Mastovich is founder and CEO of MASSolutions, host of the “No BS Marketing” podcast and author of the book “Get Where You Want to Go Through Marketing, Selling and Story Telling.”
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