Advice For New Marketing Agencies: Interview with Anika Lehde from Projectline

We interviewed Anika Lehde, co-founder of the Seattle marketing agency Projectline, about challenges in growing a marketing agency and why it is a good idea to put happiness before profits. Projectline was named by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest growing private companies in America on its annual Inc. 5000 list.

Anika LehdeCool Marketing Stuff: Can you tell us about why you started Projectline and summarize what you do?

Anika: My business partners (David Jones and Mike Kichline) and I started Projectline because we all had experience with other marketing firms who treated their employees poorly, were ungrateful to their clients, thought short-term, and had a pretty low bar for quality – but were STILL getting projects. We thought, “We can do better. We can do A LOT better.” We saw that if we always did what we said we would do and we’d be beating out much of our competition. It isn’t quite like that now, but when we started, the bar was terribly low for what it meant to be a good marketing consultant. What I do at Projectline is head up our Customer Engagement Marketing division which covers marketing practices focused on customer programs. Think: customer evidence and reference programs, online communities, technology adoption programs, social media audits and management, customer advisory boards, customer research, etc. This division also houses our in-house team of content strategists, writers and editors. In addition, all three of us owners work to move the business forward, focused on new offering development, geographic expansion, leadership development, etc.

Cool Marketing Stuff: What were some of the biggest challenges that you faced in the early years of building your agency?

Anika: In the early years the biggest challenge was keeping up with growth while staying true to our mission to have a positive impact on each other, our clients, and the global community. We had some pretty voracious clients between 2005 and 2008 that sometimes wouldn’t take no for an answer. It was hard to balance creativity, quality, and morale while growing at a rapid pace. But we weathered this challenge by never taking our eye off the ball, which was not about a revenue number or profit margin, it was about being happy. Always asking, “Will this make us happy? Will this make our employees happy? Will this make our clients happy?” If the answer was “Yes” than it was worth the pain of moving ahead. If not, we changed tactics. All three of us owners care much more about being happy and loving our job than about getting rich quick.

Cool Marketing Stuff: What are some of the most important things you have learned about building a successful marketing agency?

Anika: There may be many paths to success, but ours was really the focus on people and being real about why we were in business. And when I say “people,” I mean ourselves (the three owners), our employees, our clients, our vendors, AND the wider community that we work within, including the marketing industry. It is cliché, but if you hire amazing people who share your values, this comes through in the work – clients want to be around people who are smart and nice. It’s not complicated in theory, but it takes immense amount of time and being very deliberate and patient in the hiring process. We want a team of people who are kind, patient, and supportive of each other. This makes doing the grudge work tolerable and makes doing the creative work totally amazing.

Cool Marketing Stuff: What were some mistakes that you would advise others to avoid when building a marketing agency?

Anika: I think every time we tried to move too fast, we made hiring mistakes. Looking back I would rather have given up opportunities to our competitors than hired the wrong person. It all comes back to who is on your team. Candidates normally interview with 6-7 people during our hiring process, and then I ask the Projectline folks who interviewed them, “If this was YOUR company, and you had to pay them out of your own pocket, would you hire them?” It helps get past the superficial stuff about learnable skills and focuses on attitude and aptitude, which are much more important long-term.

Cool Marketing Stuff: What keeps you up at night and what gets you up in the morning?

ProjectlineAnika: The same thing that keeps me up at night gets me up in the morning! It is the risk that is inherent in managing a business. Knowing when to take a leap, when to stay the course, when to flip 180 degrees, when to keep cool. If I pass on an opportunity, I think, “Am I being patient and discerning, or conservative and overly causes?” If I jump on board with an idea that will take significant time and financial investment, I think “Am I being brave and innovative, or brash and unwise?” All we can do is follow our gut and hope our instincts are right more often than they are wrong. So far Projectline has a good record. But it is this daily risk that is the joy in my job and potentially the face of my insomnia (although, I have to admit, I am a really great sleeper these days).

Cool Marketing Stuff: Why do you stress the well-being of your people and happiness of clients and not just focus on maximizing revenue?

Anika: This is a funny question that seems so obvious to me, but I get it a lot; I don’t know why other companies don’t make happiness their focus too. I think we’d all agree that happiness is more important than wealth, right? But I guess it comes down to whose happiness you target? When Mike, Dave, and I sat down to write our mission, we decided to be really honest about why we were in business. All three of us distilled our desires down to being happy ourselves. Then we realized, would having disgruntled employees make us happy? Uh, No. Would having unsatisfied clients make us happy? No, again. Would being isolated make us happy? A big No to that one too. So really, Projectline is just a selfish project to keep the three of us satisfied. It is just luck that being around people we like, delivering quality work, and giving back to the community happens to make us happy. Heh.

You can learn more about Projectline at their website or follow Projectline on Twitter @projectline. You can follow Anika on Twitter @anikamarketer.

Photo credit: Rebecca Bolte

SEO Career Advice: Interview with Danny Dover, Author of Search Engine Optimization Secrets

We had the great opportunity to interview Danny Dover, a thought leader in SEO and author of the new book Search Engine Optimization Secrets.

Cool Marketing Stuff: Your first book, Search Engine Optimization Secrets, just hit shelves. What do you want readers of Search Engine Optimization Secrets to learn or come away with?

search engine optimization secretsDanny Dover: My big goal with this book is to level the knowledge playing field in the SEO consulting industry. I’m sure you’ve heard, the idea that 90% of what you need to know about SEO is freely available online, the problem is finding it all in one place. I think SEOmoz does a good job of that but I think this book does it in an easier to consume way. I really hope to help the industry get on the same page and help create a more level playing field.

Cool Marketing Stuff: SEO has a lot of negative associations due to unethical operators and spammers. What do you say to people who have a negative perception of SEO as a business practice?

Danny Dover: It’s a tricky conversation and I feel like I have it a lot. Generally the message I try to send is yes there is a lot of black hat SEOs and what you have heard is true in some instances but that is not majority of the industry. In fact, if you look at the people who are leading right now in SEO for most terms it is people who use organic SEO. If you want to get to the top of search results you need to use SEO and if you want to stay up there for a long time you need to use white hat SEO.

Cool Marketing Stuff: Can you tell us about your new role doing SEO at AT&T?

Danny Dover: I just recently started a a new job at AT&T as the Senior SEO Manger. I am working with John Cole, who I think is the most underrated SEO in the industry. He is brilliant, very effective, and extremely analytical. I really enjoy working with him. My primary focus at AT&T will be to do organic SEO for Yellowpages.com.

Cool Marketing Stuff: Why do you think that search engine optimization is a good career choice?

Danny Dover: I think that SEO is a good career choice because it is extremely portable. One of the many beautiful things about the Internet is that it allows me to do what I want to do wherever I want to do it.

Cool Marketing Stuff: Do you think there is a lot of potential for growth in the SEODanny Dover industry, specifically for SEO consultants or service providers?

Danny Dover: Yes I do. This year has been the most exciting year for SEO that I have seen. As more and more people learn about it, I think more and more people are going to be looking for SEO consulting. The demand for even amateur SEO services is increasing and with that the opportunities are increasing.

Cool Marketing Stuff: What is the best career advice you have ever received?

Danny Dover: The best career advice I have ever received is actually very counterintuitive. I talked to people and they said that if you really want to learn something you are passionate about you have to be willing to do it for free. It started as an unpaid intern at SEOmoz. I came in and said I would work for free as long as they would teach me. As you can tell, this worked out great. SEO was something I was passionate about and looked forward to learning it everyday. Over the course of three years my job changed a lot as I took on more responsibilities. The experience was fantastic. That wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t offer to work for free.

You can learn more about Danny’s work and adventures around the world at DannyDover.com or on Twitter @DannyDover.

Best Marketing Career Advice From 10+ Top Marketing Minds

I asked top minds in marketing about the best marketing career advice they have ever received. Here are their responses:

Go, start something. Don’t wait.

Seth Godin, author of Linchpin and Seth’s Blog

The best career advice I have ever received is actually very counterintuitive. I talked to people and they said that if you really want to learn something you are passionate about you have to be willing to do it for free. It started as an unpaid intern at SEOmoz. I came in and said I would work for free as long as they would teach me. As you can tell, this worked out great. SEO was something I was passionate about and looked forward to learning it everyday. Over the course of three years my job changed a lot as I took on more responsibilities. The experience was fantastic. That wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t offer to work for free.

Danny Dover, author of Search Engine Optimization Secrets. Danny also blogs at DannyDover.com.

The best marketing advice that I ever received I got from my mother. She told me to always be empathetic. (Rather, she pounded this value into me so acutely and successfully as a child that I began to empathize with inanimate things, which is a whole other story). Empathy is easy and the only way to reach your audience with a sincere and useful product or message. Put yourself in your audiences’ shoes and ask every question you can about what you have to offer. If it is useless, annoying, not genuine, too complicated, condescending, or ugly to you, it likely will be to your audience. Sincere empathy works with client communications and employee relationships as well. It is a guiding principle for life and for business.

Anika Lehde is the co-founder of Projectline, a Seattle marketing agency that was named as one of the fastest growing private companies in America by Inc. Magazine. You can follow Anika on twitter @anikamarketer.

So much great marketing advice…..! But the best piece I often remember was, “Intimately Talk to One Ideal Person.“ Your communications shouldn’t be you shouting to a room of 5000 people, but should be you connecting one on one to that person who matters the most. This comes from an amazingly talented advertising agency Creative Director I worked with long ago. He said he wrote print ads, not as if he was speaking to a large room full of people but remembering that the ad would be consumed as one person reading a magazine in his or her lap. His job was to ensure he was speaking to that one person.

I remember this when I work with clients on their ideal customer. Creating brand messaging that speaks to the needs of a real-life person you imagine (ie, Jane, 45, married, lives in Redmond, has two kids, etc.) is much more connective and will resonate much more than if you just try to boil the ocean (ie, Busy moms everywhere!). If you are aiming for a huge, generic blob of people that don’t exist, your marketing will reflect that. So even though you can sell to a variety of people who want to pay you money, no matter their profile, always keep an ideal customer profile and “character” in mind. Your communications will resonate much more effectively and memorably that way if you write “for him/her.”

Maria Ross is the Chief Brand Strategist at Red Slice and author of Branding Basics for Small Business. She also blogs at the Red Slice blog.

Don’t try to be good at everything. Try to be very good at one thing. – Al Ries

Laura Ries, co-author of War in the Boardroom and the blog Ries Pieces.

The best advice I ever got was in my first-year marketing class in business school: Habit change is extremely difficult. People naturally embrace and hold onto habits because it makes their lives easier; and they develop a deep resistance to marketers’ attempts to convince them to buy new products that necessitate a change in habit. I learned this the hard way myself during my first assignment at Procter & Gamble, where I was tasked with launching a natural soap for people to clean their fruits and vegetables. It failed to succeed for many reasons, but mostly because it forced people to add a step and product their age-old habits. I later learned five ways to more effectively build new product habits through marketing:

  • Reduce barriers – make it easier to do the new habit, provide incentives and a range of options
  • Provide a link to the familiar – associate the new habit with an existing one; make it similar to what they are doing today
  • Encourage usage frequency – it takes regular use of around 14 times to get a new habit to hold; create usage reminders, tips and other positive reinforcement along the way
  • Actively engage the consumer – obtain a commitment to change at the start
  • Provide social reinforcement – foster a community of others who are changing together

Bob Gilbreath is the Chief Marketing Strategist at Bridge Worldwide and the author of The Next Evolution of Marketing. Bob also blogs regularly at Marketing With Meaning.

“Get involved in the process.” Oddly, I learned this from Senator John Montford in the late 80’s. We were flying back to Austin from Lubbock and I asked him about impacting the legislative process: At the time the state was beginning a new push for insurance regulation. I thought it was a simple matter of having the best products. He said, “No, it’s what your customers say about you.” That simple re-orientation of marketing perspective changes everything. From that point forward, my career in business and marketing has been defined by a customer-centric POV aimed across the entire organization, which is exactly what excites me so much about social media and the new career opportunities for CMO’s who are willing to exert themselves beyond the marketing department.

Dave Evans is the author of Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day and also blogs at ReadThis.com. @evansdave on Twitter

There was a guy at Labatt, a client at the time, that I think nailed it about the risk of over management, risk avoidance, paint by numbers marketing and analysis paralysis

“Sean, there are a tonne of things you could do in an average day – marketers could feasibly work 168 hours of week and feel justified. But let me tell you – if you can find the 3 most important things to affect your brand tangibly, importantly – focus as much time, attention and effort on those and do the minimum on the rest.”

Sean Moffitt, author of Buzz Canuck

Perhaps the best advice was succinctly stated by ad agency, Wieden & Kennedy, in Portland: Fail harder. So few of us give ourselves permission to fail let alone court failure as we try to achieve our goals. It’s even worse for corporations or brands. Yet the best brands in the world and their advertising partners take big enough risks consistently that failure is inevitable and invaluable learning at the same time. So as we rush to be “something” or achieve a goal, perhaps the best advice I ever heard was plan to be good at failing too because its a tough but wonderful teacher.

Simon Mainwaring, Owner of Mainwaring Creative and author of Mainwaring Blog

I would say something I have said for a long time, “Dont Fight the market”. Too many draw lines in the sand and don’t want to accept the new rules, I embrace them!

Gary Vaynerchuck Co-Founder at VaynerMedia and author of Crush It!

I’ve been in the business for 25+ years now (it sucks to type that!) and what I’ve learned is that if you are not willing to always be learning, experimenting, asking new questions and wondering why — you will be mediocre in marketing. You’ll survive and maybe even Peter Principle your way to a cushy job — but you won’t be able to keep the fire in your belly.

What makes marketing the best career in the world is that is it ever evolving. There’s always a new insight, new tool or tactic. So if you want to be at the top of your game and really be someone your clients love and rely on — keep learning. Read, write, listen. Every day.

Drew McLellan, Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group and author of the blog Drew’s Marketing Minute. Drew is also the Co-Editor of the book Age of Conversation 3.

The best advice I’ve every gotten for my career actually comes from the Bible. And no, this is not proselytizing. It’s just a simple truth that’s always stuck with me: “Only in his hometown, among his relatives, and in his own house is a prophet without honour.” (Mark 6:4, if you’re interested.)

The one place you are absolutely destined to be taken for granted, pigeon-holed and disrespected in your career is among your co-workers and in the eyes of your employers. This is especially true if you are one who challenges accepted thinking or encourages new action. Why do you think the people who do as they are told and never challenge authority are always the ones who walk away with the Employee-of-the-Year awards? It’s because they fit the mold. They not only “do” what’s expected of them, they also “are” what people expect of them.

A prophet, though, has thinking too big to contain. He (or she) is disruptive. He is an agent of change and change, for all companies talk about it as a necessity, is a bad thing for power-structures. This kind of message can find a home, but almost never in the confines of a “hometown.” It needs to be set free.

All this was finally made clear to me when I found myself out of a job two years ago. I had a bad parting with an employer and a choice to either find another job or be on my own. And in choosing the latter path, I finally realized how suppressed my message had become. I had rallied for transparency, content strategies, relationship-based promotion, networking among peers and other key messages of the social sphere for over ten years. And I had let most of the digital revolution pass me by, fighting for it among people who didn’t want to hear about it.

My advice is simple: If you have a message and people aren’t listening, go find someone who will listen. Take the risk. Get out there. It won’t be easy or necessarily bring immediate financial success. It may never bring financial success for that matter. But it will bring you integrity. And in many ways that’s the most gratifying business success you can have.

Bob Knorpp, host of The BeanCast
, @beancast on Twitter

The best marketing career advice I have is never stop learning and experimenting. Marketing is constantly changing. The second you start relying on the old techniques you used to use and stop learning new things, is the second you start getting lower performance and become less valuable to your company. Make sure you are always watching for new trends, learning new things, and experimenting with new techniques.

Mike Volpe, VP of Marketing at Hubspot, co-host of Hubspot TV and author of the blog Marketing With Mike.

Do not study marketing in school. Study anything but marketing.

David Meerman Scott, author of World Wide Rave and the blog Web Ink Now.

Listen more.

Bill Green, Idea Guy at Plaid, co-host of the podcast AdVerve and author of the blog Make the Logo Bigger.

Check back for updates as I get more responses!

Photos by http://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/ / CC BY 2.0
http://www.flickr.com/photos/danielmorrison/
/ CC BY 2.0
http://www.flickr.com/photos/billlublin/
/ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Interview with Patrick Byers of The Responsible Marketing Blog

Today we have the great privilege of talking with Patrick Byers, CEO of Outsource Marketing, a marketing firm that provides research, planning, and creative services for organizations of all sizes.

The Responsible Marketing blog is an excellent marketing blog that discusses issues of ethics in marketing. What was the inspiration of starting a blog about marketing responsibly?

It was something that inspired me, but it was also a little self-serving. Even though my job is to help organizations sell more products and services, I constantly found myself asking, “does the world need another widget?” I also realized the clients we liked serving the most were the ones that wanted to do marketing the right way and do the right thing.

So we decided that that’s where we put our energy as a firm–evangelizing and doing responsible marketing with clients, and only with clients that share our philosophy.

Why is responsible marketing important to marketers?

There’s an unholy trinity of things working against marketers today: Marketing as a discipline is broken, there’s too much information for any human to process, and consumers don’t trust marketers (for a number of reasons). Responsible Marketing tackles these three interconnected challenges by focusing marketing energy on building (or restoring) trust. We do this by helping our clients communicate their competence and character.

Isn’t marketing about selling the most products and services possible?

Sure. But Responsible Marketing is about building respectful, long-term relationships with customers, not about making a quick kill and moving on.

Will consumers really put the well-being of the world above their own needs and wants?

Not necessarily. But that assumes this an “or” question. Consumers want it all. They want to have their cake, but they want it to be organic and have a percentage of the $ earned by the company making that cake to be given to a good cause. Consumer research has shown a majority people will pay slightly more, even in a recession, for a “good” product from a socially responsible company product vs. a “cheap” product from one that isn’t.

You have previously taught marketing at the University of Washington. What career advice would you give new marketers who are trying to get their start in marketing during the worst recession in decades?

Get going with social networking and focus on the growth areas of marketing: digital, video, social media, search marketing (SEO and PPC).

And do the little stuff while interviewing: Create a killer resume that stands out. Approach the opportunity through connections on LinkedIn instead of going in cold. Show up on time for the interview. Follow-up with a handwritten note.

What advice would you give to marketers who would like to someday get to your position?

At the risk of sounding cliché, do what you love and do it with passion. If you are just showing up to collect a paycheck, find something else to do that you enjoy or find somewhere else to do it. Life’s too short to hate your job—even in this economy.

A recent intern here at Outsource worked with us all summer even though he has his degree. He’s been looking for a job but given the current job market, he decided to act instead of mope. In his words, he could be “sitting on his ass doing nothing or he could be building his resume and contacts.” If a position opens up here he’s suited for we’d certainly consider him–we know his strengths and know we can trust him. Even if we don’t hire him, he’s built his resume and my letter of recommendation for him will be, well, killer.

For more great content from Patrick Byers check out his killer blog, The Responsible Marketing Blog.

15 Things Marketers Can Learn To Improve Their Skills

The role of a marketer in today’s business environment has become significantly more complex than just a decade ago. The modern marketer is expected to understand traditional marketing strategy while also having the expertise to manage new marketing tools like search, mobile marketing, and social media. As a result of the rapid change in the industry, there is always more to learn. Becoming an “expert” in any of the following areas can help set you apart from the crowd and make you a more effective marketer.

1. Search Engine Optimization

With over a billion searches per day in Google and about 85% of those clicks going to organic search results, SEO will continue to be a highly valued skill in marketing. There are a ton of free online resources for learning more about SEO including the SEOMoz Blog and Search Engine Land. I also recommend the book The Art of SEO for a comprehensive guide on search engine optimization. SEOMoz provides several great learning resources including the Beginner’s Guide to SEO and a series of over a hundred SEO videos that are part of the weekly Whiteboard Friday series.

2. Psychology

Understanding human behavior is key to successful marketing. Many of the most successful companies have a deep understanding of human psychology and consumer behavior and use these insights to get millions of loyal customers. There are several excellent video and audio psychology lectures available for free online including Paul Bloom’s video lecture series at Yale, Introduction to Psychology.

3. Conversion Rate Optimization

You’ve attracted a ton of highly qualified visitors to your website. Now you have to convert them to customers, which is where the art and science of CRO comes in. Tools like Crazy Egg and Google’s Website Optimizer can help with analyzing and testing to improve your conversions.

4. Landing Pages

Landing Page Optimization by Tim Ash is a good starting point for learning how to use landing pages effectively and Unbounce is one of the many helpful tools that makes it easy to build and A/B test landing pages.

5. Google Adwords

Adwords can be a scalable way to quickly increase highly relevant traffic to your site at a cost that is directly measurable to the nearest penny. Understanding how to bid efficiently on keywords, improve quality score, and achieve a low cost per conversion can help you make a major impact on company revenue. Advanced Google AdWords is one book that can help you build your skills in this area.

6. Web Analytics

The ability to find actionable insights from the tremendous amount of data that can be collected from website visitors is part of the practice of web analytics. Some of the best resources for learning more about using web analytics to improve marketing results are the books Web Analytics: An Hour a Day and Web Analytics 2.0 by Avanish Kaushik.

7. Social Media

Social Media has helped give customers a voice and amplifies word of mouth marketing. Building lasting relationships through social media can help companies build an army of evangelists that can spread the company’s message for them and influence their peers. There have been countless social media books written in the past few years but some of the best include The NOW Revolution and The Thank You Economy.

8. Selling

Peter Drucker wrote that “the aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous”, however strong selling skills can be extremely valuable for marketing professionals. Selling skills can help you sell your boss on implementing your ideas and understanding sales can help marketers work more effectively with the sales team. Little Red Book of Selling by Jeffrey Gitomer may be one of the best selling books that you can read.

9. Email Marketing

Email marketing is still an effective marketing channel if used to provide customers with information that they want. Groupon’s exponential growth into a multi-billion dollar company is an example of the power email marketing.

10. Consumer Behavior

The idea of rational economics seems to have been overtaken by a wave of research on irrational behavior by psychologists like Dan Ariely. Marketers know that people rely more on emotions than rational thinking when making purchase decisions. Additionally “up to 45 percent of our daily actions are done by habit, without conscious thought” (Marketing in the Age of Google). Understanding the factors that influence consumer behavior by reading books like Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational and How Customers Think by Gerald Zaltman can help marketers create more effective marketing strategies.

11. Personal Networking

Building out a strong network before you need it is critical to getting your ideal job in the marketing field. Dale Carnegie’s classic How To Win Friends and Influence People is one of the best books for learning how to build strong relationships. Attending local networking events as you can through organizations like the American Marketing Association and Social Media Club can help you hone your networking skills. Additionally, social networks can be great for building relationships online and having conversations with people you might not have the chance to meet offline.

12. Mobile Marketing

The dream of a computer in every pocket is close to reality with the growing adoption of smart phones by consumers. Instant access to information from almost anywhere is now possible and the ability to communicate mobile marketing messages to consumers at the precise moment that they are looking to buy a product or service will be invaluable to companies in the near future.

13. Statistics

Marketing has become more data-driven in recent years with the advent of trackable online marketing campaigns. Executives are becoming savvy to this and many are becoming more demanding in seeing an ROI on marketing efforts. The ability to turn quantitative data into marketing insights is an important skill for modern marketers which is where knowledge of statistical significance, correlation, and probability can come in handy. There are several free college lectures available for learning or getting a refresher on statistics. Khan Academy also offers an excellent free series of online videos on the subject of statistics.

14. Microsoft Excel

Excel ninjas are rare and valuable in the marketing field. Being able to manage large amounts of data with Excel formulas is a commonly desired skill as companies continue to amass more and more customer data through their website, social media, and smart phones. Lynda.com has several excellent video courses that can help you become dangerous with Excel. You can also earn your Excel Ninja badge by completing free Excel training at the Distilled website.

15. HTML and CSS

Your web team can often be overwhelmed and may not be able to implement changes to the site as quickly as you need them to. The ability to make changes to the site by tweaking the HTML or CSS code can help you implement changes faster, especially when the web team is unavailable. Lynda.com is one of the best resources for learning about HTML and CSS. There are also many free web resources including the free tutorials at W3Schools.

Please leave a comment below if you have a suggestion for a skill that should be added.

Top 10 Tips for New Marketing Grads

Marketing is one of the best jobs you can get, but many of us can attest to the trials and tribulations when first starting a career in marketing. If you are someone who is interested in getting started in marketing, here are the top ten tips I have learned while trying to land my first job in marketing. If you are already a successful marketer, then please share your wisdom with young marketers on how to get into the best career on earth.

1. Get informational interviews. So few people do it, but a lot of successful marketers are willing to spend 15 minutes to share their insights on how they got where they are.

2. Network like mad. I believe this is by far the most effective way to get a job. Join the American Marketing Association, join local organizations, volunteer. Do whatever it takes to meet as many people as you can, and make sure to follow up!

3. Don’t give up. Keep your passion for marketing. If you have the passion for it, you will eventually make it.

4. The walls aren’t there to keep you out. The walls are there so you can show how much you want it. They are there to keep those other people out (courtesy of Professor Randy Pausch of Carnigie Mellon).

5. The really good jobs aren’t going to come to you. You’re going to have to go out and get them. Surfing Monster.com all day doesn’t work. Believe me, I’ve tried.

6. Be a sponge. Work to get better at marketing every day. Try to make yourself into a better all around person, and you will make yourself more valuable to an organization.

7. When conducting an informational interview. Don’t forget your pen so you can take notes. I learned this the hard way.

8. Get an internship or volunteer for free. One person I met got a great marketing job at Microsoft because she was able to show a portfolio of work she had done as the VP of marketing for a charity. Often non-profits can give you important responsibilities since you are volunteering. One of the most difficult challenges is that every marketing position requires experience. Internships and volunteer projects can provide you with that experience.

9. Reach out to your alumni network. Alumni are almost always very happy to help new grads. They will go to great lengths to help you. Take advantage of people willing to help.

10. Talk to everyone you can. You never know if the person you meet knows someone who knows a hiring manager at one of your target companies.

If you are a new grad, please contact me at csipe84@gmail.com with any questions and good luck!

Please add your own insights and tips on how to get started in marketing!

How to be Successful in Your Marketing Career: Advice from Marketing Leaders

Brain Martin interviews marketers who have been very successful in their marketing careers and asks if there is any advice they would give someone who would like to someday get to their position. Here are their suggestions:

John Scalzo, CEO, White Wave Foods
You have to have a passion for marketing and want to make a difference. Bring a great attitude every day. Believing the business will be better at the end of the day because of you is very important. Great marketers have to work well on a team. Enjoying what you do keeps you fresh and keeps you going.

Robert Swaigen, Director of Marketing, Jelly Belly

Approach you job like you’re running your own business. Seek out new opportunities to learn. Learn by your mistakes as well as your successes. Really understand the math behind the metrics. Marketing is an art and a science, make sure you develop both the right and left side of the brain. Go on sales calls with your sales team.

Jeri Finard, CMO, Kraft Foods
Stay close to your consumer and always be curious about them. Focus on what will really move the business and make the rest go away. If you’re not having fun, do something else.

Chris Nemeth, Vice President of Global Marketing, Coleman
Having great passion for what you are working on will help you get noticed and move up quickly in the organization. Be able to speak effectively in front of people is really valuable to being successful.

Manos Spanos, Product Director Johnson & Johnson

Know where you want to be and plan for it. Take advantage of the opportunities that are given: sometimes you have to jump on a bus even if you don’t know exactly where it goes. Work hard. Be open to learning.

Christopher Baldwin, President of US Commercial Group, Hershey
Demonstrate ability to change the company. Show an ability to get things done.

David Verklin, CEO, Carat
Never forget where you came from. Take it one step at a time.

Jay Popli, Senior Marketing Manager, Lunesta

Passion is one of the most important traits. Ability to shift through data. Don’t settle for good enough.

Nicole Hayes, Partner and Group Planning Director, Mindshare
Find a good mentor. A strong work ethic is important. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, speak out, and try new things.

Peter Klein Officer at Gillete
Find out what is expected of you and get results that you can point to. Be rigorous in having analytical support.

Steve Wallace, Director of Marketing, CV Technologies
Know the consumer. Focus on the benefits. Have fun.

Tom Denford, Director of Communications Planning, JWT

Don’t be afraid of being a generalist. Keep on top of the latest research on consumer behavior. Consume as much media as you can. Always ask questions. Find out what people in other disciplines at your company do. What gets measured really gets done.

Can You Read Enough?

“Not Possible” writes Matt Heinz, author of Are You Selling Pants, or Selling a Dream. I posted last week about Tim Ferris’ view that you should limit your reading of non-fiction because you could waste time passively consuming information instead of taking action. Here’s Matt’s counter argument of why we should read as much as possible:

As marketers, we need to be constantly learning. Constantly reinventing how we do business. Constantly questioning the way we do business today and tomorrow.

When I force myself to stop what I’m doing for a moment and read something, I almost always get new ideas, insights and inspiration.

I get ideas for how to improve my job, my company, my life.

Marketers are extremely busy and time-strapped. It’s very difficult to stop and read. That’s where audio books and podcasts can help. You can consume tremendous amounts of content walking down the street, driving your car, or waiting in line.

The latest episode of the M-Show states that one quarter of America’s business elite downloaded a podcast in the last month. Audible.com has been a godsend, by allowing me to read several books while commuting to work. If you have a great audio book it can even make you look forward to the drive!

Commuter College

If you are like the average commuter you spend more than 100 hours a year going to and from work. This is roughly the same time a college student spends in class during a full quarter. If you take advantage of the time you can expand your education, follow marketing trends, or learn about novel ideas.

One of the best ways to learn on the road is through audio books or informative podcasts (check out my podcasts picks on the right). Almost every great business book is offered in audio format. There are also many great lecture courses offered via podcast on iTunes U. Write down all the great points in a notebook or on a word file so that you refer back to all the important stuff you learn.