Thursday, January 17, 2008

are you an armchair marketer?

"I want to work in marketing. That sounds like fun!"

If I had a dollar for every time I've heard that phrase uttered I'd be writing atop my yacht stationed in the crystalline aqua-blue waters of the Caribbean.

Marketing is a funny business. The job itself seems coveted by every liberal arts or literature major in colleges from Alaska to Zurich. It is glorified in Hollywood movies where smartly-dressed account executives work in hip glass and leather adorned offices and toss around creative concepts like NBA basketball stars running down the clock. And it conjures images of jet-setting and hob-knobbing, cosmopolitan in hand and Prada bag on hips.

It's not simply the freshly scrubbed collegiate set who thinks they'd make the next Donny Deutsch. Professionals from nearly every background think they know how to market simply because they are consumers of marketing. These "arm chair marketers" seem to believe that marketing takes little skill and even less experience; all you really need is a good eye for design or catchy tagline or title to make it in the biz.

Ah if it were only that easy. The irony here isn't that it takes both skill and experience to be a good marketeer. I mean it is kind of like me pursuing a career as a brain surgeon or electrical engineer without any relevant training or experience. But I digress. The true irony is that marketeers and the business of marketing is quite the opposite of glamorous most of the time. Not only is it hard work to constantly conjure the next cool creation or concept. Marketing is incessantly vilified by consumers, parents, professionals--just about anyone who receives incoming messages, which is pretty much everyone on the planet.

What most of us don't realize is that every business, commodity, service, product--every single market venture--needs marketing in some way, shape, or form. Nonprofit organizations need to attract donations or volunteers, attractions need visitors, products need customers, even governments need the support of their constituents. And it is the marketing professionals, with their experience and skill, who help connect the right messages to the right recipients to help drive the heartbeat of the global market economy.

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