Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Want to get into marketing? Read everything.
Image courtesy of Olivander
This post is aimed at anybody trying to get into a marketing communications career.
When starting out 11 years ago in marketing, I got an initial surprise. I realised that many of the marketers I met didn't seem interested in studying the past. In learning more.
For example, I met people that considered themselves direct marketing professionals - yet had not read the books by John Caples, Claude Hopkins or even David Ogilvy. There were people responsible for online marketing who gave me blank looks when I mentioned Jakob Nielsen. I bet there are people today responsible for email marketing who had never read Permission Marketing, Unleashing the Ideavirus or anything by Seth Godin.
I was surprised but pretty happy. This was a real opportunity for me. So I studied everything I could find.
Direct marketing and online marketing were the areas I was working in. So I started there. I read every book or article I could find by these guys - John Caples, Claude Hopkins, Drayton Bird, Denny Hatch, Bob Stone, Graeme McCorkell, Jay Abraham, Seth Godin, David Ogilvy, Julian L. Simon as well as others somewhat connected to the discipline like Richard Koch and Ries & Trout.
There were obvious links between direct and online marketing. Online was getting bigger, so I decided to upskill myself more. I bought some books on webdesign and usability (Steve Krug, Jakob Nielsen) and taught myself how to build and design websites using the Macromedia products Dreamweaver and Flash. And I started reading Danny Sullivan's newsletters about search engine optimisation.
Later on, I read everything I could find on advertising and brand management, from the likes of Jon Steel and John Grant to Alan Cooper and David A. Aaker.
Third hand knowledge is not a substitute for experience. But even with experience, having knowledge from others will vastly improve your decisions. And if you don't have the experience, and really want to become an expert in an area, start reading everything you can about it.
If you really want to get into marketing communication - start with the authors above. But don't limit yourself to books. Blogs, email newsletters, articles, forums. There is so much information available. Much of it is free. Email me if you want names of other good books.
Have a read of Outliers too - Malcolm Gladwell's explanation on what is required to master any given area.