Forget What They Taught You in Business School!

School Girl

The other day I did the unthinkable, I went through my college textbooks and notes. Tossing the Business Calculus, Accounting and Finance notes in the garbage (Spring Cleaning, lol), I stumbled upon Marketing 101 notes. On the first day of class we were taught the Marketing Mix and told to memorize product, place, promotion and price, and through out the quarter (or semester) we apply the four components to case studies and projects. The funniest thing is I have never applied the marketing mix in my own career, well not in the way that they taught us to.

The difference between school and the “Real World” is practice trumps theory. Not every marketing situation calls for the four P’s because not all companies have tangible offerings. If you do have tangible offerings, your manager is not going to wait for you to draw out a grid and input your company’s information. That’s super unrealistic.

Once you get into your marketing position your job becomes about finding innovative ways to increase revenue through your consumer and/ or end-user. Your job is to also stay knowledgeable! Everyday there are hundreds of new strategies and ideas that will help you with your role. I’m not saying completely abandon the practices that you learned in school, upgrade them.

For instance:

  1. Create a Hybrid  Marketing Plan. Instead of writing a 10 page marketing plan that will never be executed nor read, focus on creating an goal-oriented one-page marketing overview. This should include the budget, goals for each quarter, and tasks & actions. This is also a chance to illustrate how creative you can be. Twitter made us appreciate short 140 character sentences, apply the same method to your marketing plan.
  2. Learn AP Style. Rather you know it or not,  you are always writing. I personally think that all marketing students should take more than one Business Writing class because you are always writing some form of copy that is visible to general public. Most marketers do not know that knowing AP Style is a huge plus for employers.
  3. Create Goals, Challenges and Milestones. Marketing itself is an intangible job. If you do not work for a marketing-focused agency, other departments will always remind you that your job is “fluff”. Being “fluff” means that you should always create visible goals, challenges and milestones. If you are in charge of your social media account, make a goal of 50 new Followers on Twitter, 20 new Likes on Facebook, etc. Everything you do must be measurable and will help give you credibility if you are pitching a new idea to your manager or even getting a raise or promotion. Make a “Measurability Task List” starting from you marketing plan. Start with your quarterly goal, this is your milestone, what challenges can you implement to achieve this goal? What tasks will need to be completed in those three months to make the quarterly milestone successful? What tasks should be executed in the 4 weeks to make a successful monthly milestone? What tasks should be executed everyday to make a successful weekly milestone?
  4. An Editorial Calendar is the Most Awesome Tool in the World. Journalist, magazines, and  newspapers use editorial calendars.  You, your managers, readers and advertisers are able to anticipate within that year what your focus will be for each month. This helps craft your stories and help plan for press releases, events, etc. Think of it as a work “syllabus” and remember how helpful that tool was?
  5. Google Alerts are EVERYTHING! Do you need to know daily word on the business street, but you work so hard that you have no time to look on every blog or website for the information? I’ve been there. Google Alerts helped my life. From the latest Chicago networking event to the hottest gossip, I have a Google Alert for it all. Just check your email and you become an instant expert. Check it before work with commuting and you have instant “Water Cooler” talk. It also helps you to craft your writing if you are in social media or public relations.
  6. Become a “Low-Key” Type-A Personality. No one will blatantly tell that they expect  you to be a perfectionist, but when you are hired, this becomes the apparent elephant in the room. Being too detailed- never hurt anyone, honestly. If you need to train yourself to catch document errors and you are able to give valuable feedback.
  7. Learn from Your Mistakes. I wish I had listened to myself about this important lesson. You employer is not your teacher. They have no time to repeat themselves, nor harness your weakness. If someone points out your mistakes, don’t cry, don’t punish yourself. To have error is to be human, but listen and take notes. You are helping yourself by learning from your mistake and correcting it.

Do you have tips for “Forgetting What You Learned in Business School”? What tools helped you in your marketing position?


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