If you were to share one piece of learning with new students, what would it be?
This post relates to our series of 'Discussion Topics' that we post every month in our CIM South West Community Group on LinkedIn. We asked members to help out the next generation of student marketers by sharing a piece of learning that they would have liked to be aware of when they started their journey.
This is packed with advice that is relevant to all of us, not only people starting out on their careers. Read what our members have shared:
Don't forget the importance of your customer.
It is easy to think about new campaigns, new marketing channels, how you can grow sales quickly; but take some time to sit back and really think about what your customer needs and wants from you now. How have their needs changed? How can you build stronger relationships? By re-focusing on your customers, you'll gain a clear understanding of how you can best meet their needs in the 'new normal' and therefore ultimately grow sales.
One from me: Don't just read the recommended reading shared in your studies. Read (and watch) other interesting and relevant content outside of this. Some of the most interesting content comes from experienced business/marketing professionals who share their insight, experiences, setbacks and lessons learnt. This can give you real life applications of the skills you are developing by embarking on your studies. It makes it feel more 'real' rather than just theoretical.
My advice is: read as much as possible, follow the CIM guidelines precisely, set realistic targets for your study and finally remember you are only aiming to gain your CIM qualification not change the world - that comes next!
What I would share is to be curious and ask lots of questions - of peers, colleagues, managers and customers. How does what I'm learning apply to my business/sector... and other businesses/sectors? Who can I talk to to gain a different perspective? What don't I know about the customer and their journey that I need to know.... etc.
I think my piece of advice would be to prepare for the 'new normal', of course, but to not lose sight of the fundamental reasons why your product or service appeals to people. I think this is particularly true for the tourism & hospitality sector. Attractions, hotels, restaurants and pubs will, rightly, be doing everything they can to make sure their guests are safe, and marketers will want to communicate the safety of their venue to customers. It's important to do this, as it will reassure people and make them feel comfortable visiting. But we still need to give people a positive reason to visit too. As much as safety is important to people, it's not the reason that they visit a family attraction, for instance. They primarily visit to enjoy a fun day out. With so much focus on explaining new ways of operating and what people must do to stay within safety guidelines, it's important to ensure that the real benefits to the customer don't get forgotten.
My advice would be to look beyond your own particular industry sector and evaluate and assess what is going on that is innovative in other sectors or even other countries.
My advice for future marketers would be to integrate all activities and not to work in silos. The way I see it, there should not be a distinction between traditional and digital marketing. Marketing as a science is still the same but of course the digital revolution offered other channels and tools that made the customer journey more complex. So, the winners would be the ones that manage to master an omnichannel approach.
I would say try to combine your studies with first-hand experiences so you know what it's like to put your learnings into practice. If you're working alongside your studies, seek opportunities to bring your knowledge to 'life' and if not, seek work experience to enable you to understand what it's really like to work in a marketing role.
Find what your passion is and you love doing. Stay curious and I would suggest taking a pragmatic approach to marketing like Robert Craven for example.
Another thought, I found when I did my MBA that you learn a huge amount from other students. Also, what a great network of friends you have for the future.
The learning doesn’t stop; commit to being a life-long learner.
Also understand that “agility” in business is less about acting fast and more about learning fast.
For all the various course topics, try and think of brands that have really delivered against them. Look at what is happening in real life and see how companies overcome business situations by developing campaigns that drive awareness and sales.
When you're involved in marketing you can get fired up and want to approach everything from the perspective that you've been taught. My point would be that new marketers need to be aware that not everyone you will deal with really understands marketing (but they think they do) and they only want to talk about short term tactics. So, there may be a need to educate your audience and you need to be patient.
My advice would be:
If in doubt, ask! All the information you are given, can at times be overwhelming. Its fine to ask for clarification, having a full understanding of a topic will allow you to put what you have learnt into practice. Everyone learns differently so there is no right or wrong way, just as long as you get there.
Celebrate your successes! Set yourself achievable goals and reflect on what you have achieved. During your reflection time, consider what went well, and what could have gone better. Every day, really is a school day.
Personally, I like to make notes as much as I can, it helps me ‘join the dots’ of what I have learnt, ensuring that I understand what has been said. I can then consider how the information can be used.
Learning doesn’t stop when you end your studies, it continues throughout your career so it is a good idea to establish good practice from the start.
Finally, look after yourself, take regular breaks and meet up with friends and family. Marketing is all around us in many forms. Consider it research!
1/project management skills are as important as marketing skills and,
2/Stay on top of the latest in marketing tech.
I would say do your research, look at lots of real life case studies and talk to people about their experiences so you can really understand what you are trying to achieve. Work hard, but also take time out especially in this current covid climate.
Make the most of your peer group on the course, you can learn so much from other people's sectors and experiences. Then once you've gained your CIM qualifications keep your CPD up-to-date, the world is constantly changing and your marketing skills/knowledge need to adapt to these changes.
Whatever comes your way, have a Growth mindset and always keep an open mind. Your soft and adjacent skills could prove more critical to success in the long run than your hard skills. Believe you can.
Be curious, read a lot of books/blogs/listen to podcasts, follow people who share their knowledge willingly. Adopt a mentor if you can. Unpick campaigns and strategies that seem to work for other brands and industries and adapt and apply them to your own. Be aware that your strategy may be right but your tactics wrong so reflect on your learnings before binning your efforts.
Always ask “what’s the point and who cares” before you embark on any campaign or piece of content. If you can’t answer that with confidence then don’t do it! Have measures of success in mind before you start a campaign - if you don’t know what you think success will look like at the end then how will you know if its worked? Celebrate successes and learn from failures - both are growth opportunities.
How to get involved in future 'Discussion Topics'
On the first Monday of every month we post a new Discussion Topic in the CIM South West Community Group on LinkedIn. If you are not already a member of the group then ask to join. All you need to do is comment on the current post in the LinkedIn group and we'll include it in our compilation post on that topic which is published during the following month.
The next discussion topic is: Of all the careers you could have had what made you chose marketing? You can comment on this post for another 3 weeks.