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That’s what I tell young people in school these days, when I’m asked to talk about Marketing as a profession.

Being a Marketer is not a profession of choice (for most). Most young people enter Marketing after not falling in love with law school of their MBA program. Marketing also tends to be the industry of choice for those who took the more creative route in university but never converted it into a paying/sustainable practice/lifestyle. It’s too bad. I love Marketing. I love the challenge of trying to figure out how to get a brand and their message to resonate with an audience. Beyond that, it gets even more challenging when you start looking at real engagement and community/loyalty building initiatives. Marketing isn’t easy, and as more and more new platforms and channels enter the fray (think about the Web, Social Media, mobile, etc…), the more crowded the spaces get, and the harder it is to manage both the newer platforms and the ability for the brand to truly resonate.

It’s also a lot of hard work.

As Marketing continues to struggle to gain credibility within the corporate structure (too many c-level executives still see their marketing as a cost instead of the value it truly brings to the overall economic value of the business), Marketing tends to be the first area that gets cuts when times are tough (which we all know is a big mistake: Marketing Your Way Through a Recession). As tired and boring as Social Media and Digital Marketing may be to you (if you’re reading a Blog, you’re already well ahead of the curve and would probably still be considered some kind of "early adopter"), it continues to be a growing and important niche within the Marketing world.

There are jobs (good and great jobs) to be found in Marketing… right now.

Beyond the fact that our agency, Twist Image, continues to grow and that we’re constantly on the prowl for smart and informed people to join our team, Google  announced the other day that they are looking to hire more than 6000 people this year (currently, they have 300 job openings related to advertising alone). The news (which you can read more about here: Google Aims to Hire More Than 6,000 This Year) weaves an interesting story which begs the questions:

  • Do people really understand the amazing job opportunities that exist today in the technology and marketing world?
  • Are we doing enough to encourage young people to enter the marketing profession?
  • Do executives in areas of marketing that are less popular than they once were (radio, print, etc…) think about transitioning to digital?
  • Do potential marketing candidates even understand the size, scope and opportunity of Digital Marketing?
  • Are we doing enough to bring analytics and math to the potential professional?
  • Are we doing enough to merge computer science and marketing to make this possible?

This is a huge opportunity. Let’s not waste it.

I often meet with people (young and older) who are struggling with their career path and personal development. They have the pieces in place to make a transition into this new world of Marketing, but can’t seem to see how those pieces of the puzzle come together. Ultimately, Marketing has never done a great job of Marketing itself as a great profession. Pushing that idea further, I don’t think that us Digital Marketers (or online marketing professionals) have done anything to truly remedy this critical issue.

Now, it’s your turn: how do we get more people excited about the digital space and the many job opportunities that are there for the taking?


  1. Good article and good point about Marketing not having marketed itself very well. To be honest, I would argue very few people understand where we are going as we are too busy doing it! Or rather, there are so many know and unknown factors at play here that it makes predictions total guesswork. Fun guesswork though.

  2. My two cents re: the young people – we need to get MORE involved on the college level, and not just schools with a business program, but also the liberal arts colleges.
    I mentor college students as well as do some admissions interviewing (as an alumna) and am consistently surprised that the students I work with, who my be natural fits for marketing, have no idea of what marketing or market research (what I do) is! Once I bring them up to speed on some of the exciting opportunities, and how fun AND challenging the work can be they fall in love with the idea.
    And these students aren’t just creatives, they’re math whizzes and sociologists as well…
    I say – work with your alma mater(s) – make sure that your colleges and universities understand and are able to communicate well the opportunities in marketing and digital marketing in particular. And reach out directly to the students via the career development office and make yourself available as a mentor.

  3. Great piece Mitch, I’m a more seasoned professional with a sales and loyalty marketing background transitioning into the PR/corporate communications realm. My PR certificate program I graduated from only just started to incorporate digital communications into the curriculum as I was leaving.
    I’m focusing on what I learned on my own time with social media to be relevant in a job market which changes from moment to moment these days. I agree, it’s an exciting time to be in marketing, just wish the transition was a little easier.

  4. I feel pretty silly thinking I was rare, as a creative who fell into Marketing. If it was a path for me, then it must have been (and will continue to be) for many other writers, designers, and artists.
    Having started almost right after graduating in 2001, I started feeling burned out by around 2009. I couldn’t send another one-sided newsletter or write another one-sided press release. I knew I wasn’t engaging an audience or starting any conversations, but I didn’t know how to fix the problem.
    Since becoming more involved in social media, I feel re-energized; I’m invested in having a Marketing career again because I finally feel like I’m enjoying my work. I used to feel like I was “selling” (demoralizing for a starving artist who couldn’t afford the products she pushed). Now I feel like I’m closer to “helping” and providing useful information.
    Now I tell people I’m on Facebook and Twitter for a living. And pretty much everyone who hears that wants to find out how make it happen.

  5. As a young marketer who wants to get involved in the business and checks out a variety of job postings, I say make them reasonable! Don’t ask for someone with a deep understanding and history of using and developing social media tools AND 7-10 years experience in marketing at the senior level.
    NO ONE can fit that description. Well, maybe Mitch can, but that’s about it. Be more open to young people and young people will take marketing careers, especially digital marketing careers, more seriously.
    Just my two cents ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. “Marketing also tends to be the industry of choice for those who took the more creative route in university but never converted it into a paying/sustainable practice/lifestyle.”
    I’m totally into this process : tryin’ to get the most of my past experiences of financial difficulties to build something profitable with a real marketing strategy. I discovered marketing at last because it is THE unavoidable way of success in business. I never wanted to hear about it until last year. These have been the most profitable years of my life and a real empowerment period for me in my projets.
    By the way, I shouldn’t have thought marketing was something uninteresting, because the more I learn about new marketing and social medias, the more I see possibilities become realities. Marketing is truly not EVIL when we get to know how to deal with it correctly and ethically. I wish I will be able to balance it well with my missions and objectives.

  7. Without being blunt about it if you have half a brain and can’t get hired in our industry at the moment there is something seriously wrong. The people I see getting hired are the people engaging on social media channels, reading blogs like you say and generally building a name for themselves which can be done in record time. The only one thing I would ask is are those the sort of people that you want to be hiring given who entrepreneurial they are how web savvy? Not sure I am getting my point across there but what I mean is are people who spend their entire day on social media because they love it so much the people you want to be executing the more menial analytical parts of social media?

  8. Many managers and owners view marketing as an item on the general ledger.
    Marketing is often not viewed as an essential part of business. When budgets need to be tightened, marketing will be an item on the chopping block along with people. And if you lose people and your ability to share with others what you offer, those budgets will continue to shrink.
    I certainly don’t need to outline here that marketing is much more than advertising or your web presence or a social networking profile but this is why many prospects look at us as a luxury and not a necessity.
    Marketing is everything we do from answering the phone, conducting meetings, interacting with stakeholders and yes, spreading the word along various external channels.
    Someone asked me last week if what I offer is necessary. My response was no. Water and food and shelter and safety are necessary. Building a business is a luxury and not something that can be done by treating marketing as a department or an expense item.

  9. Great post and I agree that we all could be doing more to supporting one another as well as the function itself. I think many outside of marketing still consider it to be fluff and don’t appreciate the mental firepower it takes to be successful in this discipline.
    NailaJ’s anecdote is something I’ve heard as well as I’ve been networking these days. It’s disappointing to hear that someone’s demonstrated success in the discipline (which points to no small amount of natural smarts and drive) is rejected because they’ve not had the formal digital experience. Surely someone’s strategic skillset is still valuable? Why can’t we utilize that skillset and hire a more junior person to execute the SEO/SEM/YouTube/Facebook tactics?
    As usual, you’ve got me thinking. Thank you!
    Parissa Behnia
    678 Partners

  10. As I read this post Mitch I was taken back to my high school marketing class – I think the root of the challenge with promoting marketing as a career is that it can encompass so many broad roles. Marketing is always changing, evolving which subsequently limits our younger generation to get a concrete sense of what marketing does. Even amidst all the classifications of lawyers we have a sense without digging deeper the difference between a criminal lawyer and a corporate lawyer. Marketing is missing that distinction. In fact, I’ve unfortunately come across many marketers in organizations that struggle to describe the core essence of what it is they do.
    I was fortunate in college to come across a professor that inspired me to get curious and my curiosity lead to passion.

  11. In University, marketing courses seem to be taught in theory and avoid the practical skills required to make a real contribution to a hiring company. When I graduated from business school two years ago I don’t think there was a lack of interest in marketing (from students), but rather a lack of jobs that graduating students were considered qualified for. For most people – accounting was viewed as a safer route because firms were more willing to hire and train young talent.
    It’s hard to blame companies with a limited marketing budget – obviously they need to get the most of their resources and an unproven graduating student can be considered a “risk”. However, I would have offered myself as an unpaid intern to get the experience I needed to grow and excel in a profession and industry I was passionate about. Most companies were still unwilling to take me on because it required training.
    I ended up getting a great job in a related field, but still wish there were more opportunities to expand my marketing knowledge. Marketing companies should open their doors to passionate people willing to learn (even if it’s unpaid). Even with a couple years of work experience under my belt, I’d still love the opportunity to get hands on experience in the digital space – and I know of plenty people my age who share my opinion.

  12. Mitch- Thanks… People are driving toward pleasure OR away from pain…. If there is a way to entice folks that it is hard, but fun, or let them know they are “heading towards pain” should they choose to “opt-out” of the DIGITAL REVOLUTION! Best to ALL, Brian-

  13. Probably the reason executives don’t see marketing as “added value” is ’cause big companies’ marketing teams are exactly too exciting to work with. I had the experience, and I am not impressed. Probably people in this job for far too long lose the “touch”, and become, well, boring, if you know what I mean.
    Marketing agencies like yours are a different thing from marketing departments of brands, and the bigger they are the more huge this difference becomes.

  14. Hi Mitch – I love the enthusiasm and message in this post.
    How do we get people excited?
    To begin with, we share inspiring posts like this one with the communities we’re part of… Then continue to improve upon creating content that’s directed at inspiring, informing and teaching others about the craft of effective social marketing and how passionate communication and the ability to share that passion on new/social media platforms can change and impact people, communities, states, a country and the world – for better or worse, depending on who is creating and teaching!
    I really loved this post – thanks Mitch

  15. I like this a lot Mitch.
    I’ve had an interesting journey in the last year. I’ve been studying art for several years now, and I’m becoming a better painter. I realized that if I was going to start making any money as an artist, I would need to know how to sell my work. So in the past few months I’ve started studying marketing. That’s the whole reason I started following you Mitch.
    And it’s funny. The more I learn about marketing, the more interested I become. I’m interested in the abstract idea of it, regardless of whatever the product is. I’m almost finding marketing to be a fascinating end in enough itself.
    So Mitch, if you were starting over again and just graduating from high school, how would you enter the digital marketing space?

  16. I agree with Christine Hart’s comments about being re-energized by the advent of social media. Engaging an audience is the most important part of marketing (you can create a great campaign, but if no one is listening, what’s the use?) and social media makes that possible on a whole new level. There are so many exciting opportunities out there.
    Thinking back to college (as a journalism and sociology major), I had a difficult time wrapping my had around just what this whole marketing thing is. Back then, I thought of marketing as advertising. I knew I didn’t want to be in ad sales; I’m not a designer; and I certainly wanted to write more than ad copy. Connecting myself and my skills to marketing back then was a difficult process. It would’ve been easier had someone given me a clear and inspiring description of the many opportunities in the field. Great job, Mitch!

  17. I remember in high school, when Ontario had two-tiered courses, Marketing was on the second level, meaning one couldn’t use the credit towards an application to University, only to Community College. On the first day, the teacher pulled me aside and said, “transfer out of here — you don’t belong here.” Not to sound pretentious (most people weren’t in that second tier of courses) but what the teacher effectively meant was “You’re too smart for Marketing (in high school).” It took a long time for me to find my way back into marketing, where I belong. The school system doesn’t (didn’t? Has it changed?) respect the profession, and forced all of us to focus on the myth of real-world calculus and physics.
    Now back to YouTube.

  18. To me, one of the main attractions with marketing today is that it is sneaking closer and closer to technology. Web 2.0 (3.0?) is making everything more interesting and working within marketing, trying to keep up to date with what is happening online, I constantly get new ideas. Marketers will need to know more technology in the future. I try myself, I want to learn more, but so far I am only on the level of some xhtml/css and redesigning my own marketing blog.
    I think marketing will need to attract more entrepreneurs, more tech-savvy people.
    Thanks for a nice post!

  19. I would love to hear more success stories of digital marketers who made a real difference in their communities- online and offline. I’ve heard some in passing but nothing easily accessible to college or high school students.
    I recently finished a comms diploma and fell into a position that made use of my familiarity with websites and social media. I even more recently realized that there’s a whole industry here! I wished I had known earlier that this was a career option.

  20. I am a current marketing student at a Canadian University. I learn more about how marketing ‘actually’ works from Mitch’s blog and podcasts then I do in many of my classes that focus on theory. I also find it interesting that professors assume that we all have knowledge of how social media works because of our age and don’t cover it in class. I have some knowledge from the blogs and other sources of information that I follow. Most students only know how to use social media to talk to their friends but have no idea how it could be used to promote or expand a business. That’s my two cents! P.S. I went back to school as a mature student specifically to take marketing!

  21. I will not write something different from everyone. I think the crisis is there!
    To enter the digital world and to make it a profession you have to do it by yourself. Build your own road to professional marketing success.
    Recently, I obtained my diploma in communication and if i would have to describe it briefly: it’s only theories and the teachers only promote their books (even if they are out of date).
    It’s podcasting and bloging like Mitch do, that help and where we can really understand how to find jobs and work in marketing. I think universities have to rethink the way they teach. But, waiting and crying against the institutions is not the solutions. We have to do it by ourselves. We have to react. Like reading Mitch blogs, following news on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
    If I have to give one tip: if you know someone in the industry go see him and ask him a tour of his company. I did it with Sid Lee and for an hour tour I learned more than a year of theories!
    Thank you Mitch

  22. To a certain extent, learning in universities is great because it helps you build a personal working methodology (well… it’s supposed to!) and it gives you the chance to enlarge your personal culture. It builds a foundation for the house, but not the house.
    Beyond university, the real training starts. University are sometimes disconnected from the world that evolves so fast. For example, my last university marketing introduction course had for main guidebook a book of traditional marketing of the early 2000’s. It wasn’t practical and interesting, it was just boring!
    For accurate information, especially for business, economy, marketing and digital world, you sometimes don’t even find nothing very interesting in a library or in a university corpus. You might find it in podcasts, ebooks, conferences, etc. I find this information so valuable because it comes from experience and is really easy to access and quickly.
    But anyway, university is a good place to start becoming a good information searcher and critic!

  23. Hi Niall,
    It’s the people that LOVE social media that know the difference between a ‘like’ button and a ‘share’ button. They know the difference of what it looks like in friends’ feeds. They know how people typically pay attention to and react to what is shared. They also know things like when is it best to post for what audience. Say you’re marketing a product or service to teenagers … why would you post during school hours?
    Only people who LOVE social media truly understand these aspects and are what make these people valuable so yes you want these people, and you need to trust these people, to execute your social media strategies.

  24. This is exactly the situation I experienced when I graduated from journalism school, which surprisingly did not teach me a thing about the promising industry of PR/marketing. In fact, my teachers spent four years subtly brainwashing us that to go and work for one of these firms was to cross over to “the dark side.” As I specialized in business and financial journalism, my assumption was that it was natural to then go and work for a news organization that wrote about business and finance. After hearing a few horror stories from friends who went directly into the news industry (long work hours, low pay, depression and disrespect) I decided to do some research on the PR industry to see if it was better. I am now working for an excellent little PR firm in Ottawa called inmedia where I am treated with respect, given steady work hours, and get to play on social media sites. I think bloggers are on the right track in getting people excited about the digital space. Social media sites, such as LinkedIn, are also making job opportunities in the industry more apparent to young people. Where my teachers failed, blogs, such as yours and my firm’s inmedialog (, provided my first consultations on the industry.

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