1. Watch Plenty of TV (Ads)
You can always spot someone working in the Marketing industry from the outsiders: During television commercial, instead of going to the toilet, he / she will be glued to the TV, analysing every second of the clip. Be that person. Look out for good adverts, as well as the bad ones. They will teach you what not to do in the future.
2. Master your English
I wish someone had told me this when I was growing up. Without a good fundamental in English, I was often handicapped by the grammar errors and the limited vocabulary in my repertoire to express my ideas. Vocabulary is like your weapons going into a battle. Imagine fighting a war with inferior firepower.
Two ideas: Read broadly, read vicariously! Start a Blog, begin to write, even if no body reads it (I understand!). The reward is priceless.
3. Learn Pu-Tong-Hua
In case you haven’t already noticed, China is already taking over America and the rest of the world in many economic frontiers. When you graduate in 3 years time, most of your customers would demand your sales pitch in Chinese. What’s the use of a Harvard Degree, if you cannot speak in your customers’ language?
4. Learn the Basics
One of the best thing that ever happened to me as a Marketer was the 8 years of returning to Australia. After working a few years for Asia Inc Magazine in Brunei and Singapore early in my career, I had a sense of confidence that I could take on any challenge when I immigrated to Australia. 8 months of unemployment on, I resolved to selling Kebab for an Iranian take-out and eventually started a shoe shop with my uncle, who was also my partner.
There, I learned first hand the value of customer service, the thrill of responding to customers’ complain, thinking on my feet. I also developed an insight on the effectiveness of my marketing campaigns, which I would never otherwise be able to understand, had I been pushing paper in the office.
Go, be a part time waitress, stack supermarket shelves, deliver newspaper. You’d come out better because of it!
5. Take Lots of Pictures (and create fun captions)
Print Advertisements are often nothing more than Pictures breathed into live with clever captions. Try turning your pictures into advertisements at home, insert punchy captions less than 10 words, try 5 if you can, 3 even better! Do it long enough, you’d be ready for a job as a copy writer before you know it.
6. Study Newspaper Ads
Like watching the TV, pay extra attention to the ads when you read a magazine or a newspaper. Start a “cool advertisement” folder with all the good ads you cut out. Print-screen them if you’re using an iPad. Ask yourself, why did this advertisement catch your attention? My lecturer used to tell us not to worry if you do not understand an advertisement. The advertisers are stupid in coming up with the ad no body understand, not you.
7. Go Shopping!
Never go shopping with the same mindset again. Notice the brochures you received at the door, the signs that attract you to walk in. Watch out for the BUY-ME-NOW items near the counter, notice the never ending Sale sign that say: Last DayS. You’d learn more about Marketing in an afternoon outing with your girl friend than all the marketing text books, if you open your eyes.
8. Develop your People Skills
You may have the best ideas, you may be the sharpest person in the room, you may even have a break through Strategic Plan. But no body likes you. Proposal rejected.
This happens in the business world everyday.
Many of the sharpest Marketing Minds remain clueless about why they fail? Don’t be one of them. Develop your people skills!
9. Perform in the Public
It’s a circus out there. The boardroom is your theatre. Go, be a showman!
10. Start an App
Two years ago, this pointer would have been: Start a business online. And then, iPad came along… Check out 12 year old App Developer, Thomas Suarez on TED! If Suarez can do it, you probably could, too!
11. Think Different
12. Read this:
How to drive your Competition Crazy – Guy Kawasaki. One of the first Marketing books I ever read. I’m glad it wasn’t some of the others…
- Purple Cow – Seth Godin
- Everything you Want – Derek Sivers
- The End of Marketing as we know it – Sergio Zyman
- Delivering Happiness – Tony Hsieh and…
- Everything Guy Kasasaki
- Everything Seth Godin.
I’d be honest with you, Marketing is probably one of the easiest course available in the University. However, when you step into the Corporate world, heading the Marketing Department will be one of the most stressful profession. Your CEO will never step into the legal department, the Finance department or even the R&D department to ask for a 50% sales increase. He will knock on your door. Marketing will be the department that determines the trajectory of a business. The reality is far from easy.
That said, it is also one of the most rewarding and fun profession you’d ever encounter. Take it from the guy who’s enjoying every moment of his work today.