3 Things A Marketing Degree Won’t Teach You
It’s been one month since I’ve entered the marketing industry as a Marketing Graduate. Overwhelmed is the frequent feeling of the day, but excitement is what’s keeping me going. I will be honest; my marketing degree was a breeze in comparison to my first few weeks as a Graduate. Yes, difficult in some respects (namely group projects and catching peak hour public transport), however, learning on paper the aspects of marketing and its cultural influence meant that completing the work was far more above the surface than I had realised.
Please don’t be discouraged, my first few weeks as a graduate have been some of the most exciting, challenging and insightful times of my life. However, the wealth of knowledge I’ve gained in these first few weeks leaves me to reflect on the lack of practicality my university course gave me. No amount of articles, theory or lectures would have prepared me for the world of marketing.
Here are the key lessons a marketing degree won’t teach you.
- Strategy isn’t on paper
You don’t just write it down; you live and breathe your client’s strategy.
Your first university assignment ‘write a marketing strategy’ can be a daunting task and the same can be said when you’re listening to your first strategy meeting at work. I distinctly remember trying to write my first university marketing strategy with a blank Word Doc staring back at me. I had written one line (the company’s name) and I had about 40 more pages to go. To put it simply, I was dumb struck. With my brain rattled and my fingers hovering over the keyboard I thought “Surely… surely you know where to start”.
Fortunately, over the next few years I left university understanding how to write an impeccable marketing strategy. By impeccable I don’t mean that it was perfect for the client nor realistic to implement, but for my lecturer it ticked all the boxes of what a generic strategy looks like. Once you’ve completed the 8,000-word document it’s amazing how quickly its content disappears from your mind. There’s no thought on strategy implementation, what’s required next for your team and importantly, how are you actually going to ensure you achieve it?
Here’s what university doesn’t prepare you for: the application and nuances of strategy. Your marketing creations directly reflect the client. It’s a stressful responsibility particularly because
it’s their dialogue with their target audience and engagement with the community. Therefore, your commitment has to be 110% not only for the task at hand but the tasks ahead. As I’m learning, I frequently return to my client’s strategies when I’m writing their content, designing EDM’s and developing websites. What’s their purpose and how can my work communicate it?
- Organise, organise, organise for the fast-paced environment
My first few weeks have led me to be involved in a range of different marketing aspects for clients from a variety of industries. You may have a client’s logo to design and develop, a strategy in the pipeline, a social media calendar to proofread and a blog to write all in the same day. Being organised is therefore crucial whilst also preparing to be adaptable to the day and its surprises.
A lot of your day chops and changes depending upon the needs of the client. It’s highly different to your university schedule which is a series of set out blocks in your week that are manageable and non-negotiable. Agency time and life is negotiable. Time management is crucial and as I have learnt from our team, it’s important to know what lies ahead in your week and to also set out 1-2 hours of your day for the miscellaneous tasks that undoubtedly occur in agency life.
- Keeping up to date is hard yet crucial
When your day is over, and your brain feels like most of your creativity and ingenuity is at a baseline level it can be hard to motivate yourself to read insightful articles from external resources. I found this to happen in my first two weeks. I got home, walked my dog, made dinner, discussed my day and news with my housemate and then headed to bed. I soon realised that this habit isn’t going to help me in the long run as simple updates such as changes to a social media algorithm I was not aware of due to my radio silence.
Keeping up to date on the latest news and trends is hard when you’ve had a long day, however, to be a good marketer it’s crucial. It’s also important to remember that insightful pieces aren’t just marketing related so make sure you stay up to date with politics, new books, artists releases, local events and your favourite blogs. I’ve also found a great resource to be LinkedIn, which is something I initially dreaded to join (that’s for another day).
For all those job hunting, this article provided some really helpful tips for my interview at Marketing Eye. When you're feeling down about rejection letters remind yourself of your strengths and get as much feedback as possible from the interviewer to see where you can improve (then go watch your favourite movie for good measure). A marketing degree is a great asset to have in your back pocket but it’s important to remember that it won’t teach you all the skills you need in your first week, month and life as a marketer.