Marketing: what is not taught at school

    My studies at the University of Oregon turned out to be absolutely invaluable for what I am doing now. I seem to be one of the few who actually studied what will be done in the future. I decided who I want to become, back in high school, and chose the University of Oregon for its advertising department. Of course, there I learned a lot about advertising, marketing, psychology, consumer behavior and grammar. But there are a few things that I realized only through practical experience and now, 15 years after graduation, I will try to formulate them. I hope they help you in your work and save you from time-consuming mistakes.

    Most marketers, and I am no exception, the last math lesson was in high school. Usually, if marketing students decide to take an optional math in college, then they start by carefully studying the class schedule to understand: “Which of all this does not look too complicated and can be formally called a“ math study ”?
    The reality is that today's marketing is completely different from marketing fifteen years ago. Mathematics today means more than ever. Statistics and performance assessment indicators (KPIs) are now the primary weapon in marketing. Business analytics has firmly entered our professional life and, in the long run, meticulously calculated efficiency is of paramount importance to the client. The difference between the project budget and its result will always be dollars and cents, which, as you know, love the bill.

    I want to say that marketing is not just a collection of different tools at your disposal. Today, universities want to be in trend and begin to teach tools. Specialization appears, for example, in social media or in CRM. When I started, Twitter and Facebook didn’t exist yet, just like - theatrical pause - Google. So the right science is not about individual tools, but about the basic principles that work from time immemorial, as well as about their current applications. In college, we must develop the foundation of knowledge, learn to learn, try to understand how to apply all this in real life. And after graduating from college, we will be able to adapt to the environment, using the acquired knowledge and innate observation (which we definitely possess, since we went into marketing).

    Cases: every hunter wants to know ...

    Those cases that we examined in the classroom, for the most part, have little to do with real daily work. Fortunately, many marketing schools bring together people from the real world who are willing to honestly share their experiences. If you are lucky to meet them, consider yourself lucky. If not, then your understanding of how companies “shoot” or, conversely, fail, may be too embellished. It’s rare when there is a chance to bring a new Coke to the market or to participate in the launch of a low-cost airline (but if you have such a chance, hold on to it and work like a damn - it can be decisive for your career). Be prepared for the fact that basically your work will be more routine tasks, which, nevertheless, will allow you to hone your skills in working with communication channels,

    Contrary to the title of the article, I’ll mention one tip I got in the marketing classes. It was presented as “advice that you normally won’t understand until you really begin to work,” because I thought it was appropriate to insert it into the article, given that it still seems to me invaluable. Most people are afraid to make important decisions, hoping for someone else. Do not be afraid to take responsibility, and sooner or later you yourself will become what they call decision makers (Decision Makers).
    Above all, have a good reason to decide one way or another. Take risks if the situation requires it, learn from mistakes, be honest with yourself. Your boss, most likely, also does not know the answers to all the questions. But sometimes it’s just what you need to decide and do. One thing is known for sure - sitting in one place and not doing anything, you won’t achieve the result.

    Learn to survive failures

    When you start making decisions, you will very soon realize that there is nothing wrong with failures. It’s bad if you missed a typo in the title, but worse if it didn’t teach you anything. If something happened, admit the mistake, eliminate it, understand how it became possible at all and how to avoid it in the future. Share your experience with your colleagues and get bonus points and respect :). Now you are an experienced fighter.

    I remember when I got my first job at an advertising agency after graduating from college, I was given the task of conducting a marketing research. Just a month earlier in college, I was assigned three months for the same task, and now I had only five days. But I was lucky, in the asset I had a ready-made structure for a similar study and the support of several experienced employees of the agency. In the end, the project was implemented and disaster averted.

    Expand your dating circle

    The reality is that marketers and marketing professionals generally do not usually work in one place for too long. Therefore, try to expand your circle of acquaintances. Advertising agencies in general and marketing departments of companies in particular provide many opportunities for making useful contacts - use them to the maximum. Thanks to acquaintances, you can find a project more interesting, exchange useful experience, learn about new trends and request, if necessary, “special opinion” of a colleague from the outside.


    Yes, formally, you are probably aware of what priorities are. Nevertheless, in the context of marketing, a lot of people spend a lot of time on individual tools, but they can’t determine which of them really work well and concentrate their efforts on them. Too often I see marketers continuing to add new tools and activities to the campaign without getting the most out of what has already been paid. I have not yet met a marketer who would have enough available resources, time and budget. To solve this dilemma, you just need to be able to prioritize.


    Many marketers, whose leadership aims to increase sales and attract new customers, understand it as the need to expand the target audience of the product. The problem is that with this extension, you risk losing the loyalty of your existing customers. When thinking about increasing sales, first of all think about how to make your product or service more attractive to those who already know you.

    Your culture, people, product, strategy and marketing efforts must be connected. You must learn to carefully monitor and understand the processes in the company and build your communication around real values. If what is stated in your marketing messages contradicts what your client actually receives, it will only harm the business.

    Understand who you want to be when you grow up, and turn this image into your personal brand

    Along with experience, career specialization is likely to be knocked at your door. What kind of work do you like to do in your current post? Which customer categories do you like more? Whether you like it or not, but if in an agency, for example, you have to work with automobile brands for several years, then in less than five years you will become a “boy / girl in cars” in the eyes of a potential employer. Obviously, this can be both good and bad - depending on what you personally want. One way or another, you have a maximum of five years in order to decide on a niche / specialization. There will be more room for maneuver if you like to make connections and can look into a resume by working or partnering with someone outside the usual niche, but one way or another you need to think about your career “history” - people,

    It is easier to go downstream

    This point is obvious to salmon, but not always realized by marketers. If you work for a while in a large agency or in collaboration with a major brand, you will receive a lot of job offers from new agencies, young and ambitious, as a bonus. Having exchanged the pathos brand for a small agency, you will get more attention, respect, perhaps even a bigger salary, and, most importantly, a sonorous inscription under the name on the business card. Sometimes a bear play is worth the candle.

    The smaller the agency, the more experience.

    Small agencies allow each employee to play a more important role compared to working in a large company. In a small agency you will see how others work, you will literally watch how a project is born, how each link in a team works. In a large agency, where roles are clearly distributed and scheduled, and all are neatly seated in their offices, such an opportunity may not be presented.


    I am sure that my experience echoes the experience of many readers. I know that for some the article will serve as a reminder of already known lessons, but I hope that these tips will be useful for students and novice specialists. In any case, I urge readers to comment and supplement this list with their thoughts and advice.

    Reed Carr, President and CEO of Red Door Interactive

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