Over the years, I have had the pleasure of working with high school and college students as they build their careers. Students often ask me what skills are important to bring to their first job. First of all, let me start by saying learning is cumulative. Being open to learning new things enriches your personal and professional life and inevitably strengthens your talents. That being said, the field of marketing has a range of professions that cover data analysis, web, graphic design, and content writing, to name a few. Here are four ways to develop your marketing abilities.
Learn to understand data
Data helps inform decisions across businesses. From human resources to advertising, data is king. Should we spend more on a particular idea? What does your ideal client need? How does your ideal client spend their time? Are there other opportunities that are worth our investment?
Say, for example, you landed a social media job with a small company. Your first task is to get more followers on your business Instagram page. Your first instinct is to use social media influencers to promote your brand. After doing some research, you find that most legitimate influencers charge $5,000 per post. Is it worth it?
Data is a great starting point for mitigating risk and estimating return on investment. Learning to locate data, separating good from bad data, and making informed decisions based on legitimate information are important skills that will serve you well in any marketing profession.
Become an avid reader
Most jobs involve writing. Whether it’s an email, report, article, social media post, or text message, we’re in constant communication. We often write in a way similar to how we speak. And our speech can be heavily influenced by what we read.
Reading is a powerful tool for developing vocabulary and increasing your writing ability. A well-constructed vocabulary can produce more interesting, compelling, or concise work. Here is an example :
- A dog ran.
- The canine crossed the street.
- The puppy ran down the crowded avenue.
- The poodle sprinted uncharacteristically down the busy street to avoid the ravenous bear chasing it.
Words matter. So grab a novel, newspaper, magazine or article and start reading!
Develop different writing styles
You probably know intuitively that handwriting differs on different occasions. For example, the writing style used on a text message is different from what might be on a school research project. Writing styles may also differ between static ads (social media images), short Instagram videos, and longer YouTube ads. It may also differ depending on your audience (7-year-olds versus 45-year-olds) or the product you’re selling (a pack of chewing gum or a new Apple computer). Newspaper writing can be different from magazine writing, which can be different from catalog writing.
Because people receive information from a number of different places, it’s important that you have the agility to shape your writing style to cater to those markets. Robert M. Knight’s “Journalistic Writing” is a good read to start with.
Understand the design
In the age of digital media, design is more important than ever. A powerful image with a simple three-word phrase like “Just Do It” can communicate so much. Marketing careers are constantly tied to design, whether you’re creating an advertisement or hosting an event.
Design is a deep field in itself with a lot of complexity. But there are several articles on HubSpot and Adobe which you can check. A book worth reading is “Non-Designer’s Design Book” by Robin Williams. This book provides a great overview of the four design principles to get you thinking differently when creating that IG post, flyer, or email header.
Learn from experience
And finally, sometimes the best teacher is experience. Testing the marketing concepts you learn in class is one way to put words into action. Plan a school event and try to beat last year’s attendance or fundraising goals using marketing principles. Start a small business, social media account or Discord channel and build followers or earn extra money. Build designs and take a poll on which one people like the most. Put yourself out there and try it.