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Ask GH: Why did you get into Marketing?
Curious to hear people's origins of why they got started in marketing and what drives them.
As a founder I realized that "if you build it... they will come" is a lie.
Because no one else was doing it... I was hired to sell advertising on a game website in 1996, but we had very few users who would see the advertisements (really, like 100 of them). When I told the CEO we were being complacent about user growth which made it unappealing to advertisers, he told me "BS, expletive, expletive..." Then a day later asked if I wanted to try to get some users. It started as a temporary role, but I was quickly hooked. Within a few years we were the number 8 website in the world in terms of total usage time according to Comscore.
+♥ data analysis & experimentalism
+♥ user-centered design & psychology
+♥ random acts of automation
Marketing is basically a giant lab where I get to put multiple things I love doing to work simultaneously. With gamification elements that pay out in large quantities of currency, and abundant choices for where I want to take my career and what type of work I want to do.
Also people keep asking me if I'm a wizard. I'm not a wizard, I just speak parseltongue. Er, Python. But seriously, it equates to super-powers, and for some reason not many engineers have woken up to how much fun this can be yet. Their loss!
Really, who would want to work on junk like freemium iOS apps when you can write niche marketing automation software and then use it to help market your software? So much more fun.
I used to think marketing was the enemy. I was doing web design and analytics for acquistion. The bridge to connect design to conversions is marketing. Data driven marketing in my world.
There's this Italian guy on TED who said there are three parts to business- you make it, you sell it, you handle the money. Drucker said the same thing: business is about creating and keeping customers, and to achieve that you need innovation and marketing. Everything else is either just executing on what innovation and marketing unearth (production, sales) or helping innovation and marketing do their job (HR, accounting, etc).
I hate handling the money, and I'm never going to be the best at doing the fine-grained innovation stuff.
I like product innovation, I like reading about it, learning about it, and I really appreciate it, but I don't like doing it myself. Or rather, I know for a fact that there will always be others who are better at it than me.
Marketing though, that falls right within my core competencies and interests. I've always loved ideas, books, movies, art, theater, dance. Framing. Context. Marketing is the process of creating a customer, where a customer is a novel and stable pattern of behavior. It's about helping people see themselves in a different way, it's about improving the meaning or value of something often just by rearranging and realigning things, sometimes by removing things. The amount of value you get for the amount of work done is almost magical to me.
My marketing "career" began when I was playing in a shitty band as a teenager. We weren't that great as musicians. But I focused on building relationships with concertgoers who were interested in having a great experience. I got us to wear coordinated outfits, I set up our MySpace page all nice and showy, I posted witty comments on everybody's walls. I came up with the onstage banter, I positioned us as a fun, dancy band. We got to play on one of the largest stages in my country because we could pull a sizeable crowd, even though we were one of the shittiest bands around.
When I got on stage, with the lights and the roar of the crowd, I knew that marketing was the life for me. It still is. I won't build the rocket that gets us to Mars, or the electric driverless cars that will save us from killing each other on the roads, but I sure as hell am going to devote my energies towards making them palatable for everybody.
It was around 11 years ago (sigh!) and the main reason was because we needed to scale, I was a technical evangelist and we moved from having to reach 4-5k audiences that we could reach w/ offline events to tens of thousands, so we had to reinvent our engines, step back and start doing audience marketing, and from that I moved into product marketing and I love it, both the opportunity to identify behaviors and patterns, the scientific approach to marketing (testing, small pilots, data-driven), and the ability to see the impact of the actions in the engagement/revenue.
Great products AND great marketing of those products help change the world...
I started in finance because it sounded cool but quickly switched to marketing because I realized I care more about people than numbers.
Just like @joshledgard as a founder I started with a thought "Build great product ...they will come". But after burning all of my savings (along with money of investors) in making a great product, I realized that Distribution is Everything and if I am ever gonna create something, I should figure out Distribution. Turns out, fortunately, this is what I love doing everyday.
Because I still get a rush when I see that people read/click/share/enjoy something I wrote, or if an experiment I run makes a website work better. It felt like stepping behind the current and pulling the levers the first time, and still does to an extent.
Because I love economics, innovation, people and the shaping of markets. There is nothing more exciting than taking a great product, service to "market". Experimenting with business models, branding, competitive positioning, packaging, pricing, partnerships and product innovation to find out what resonates with potential buyers and what drives increased profitability are facets of marketing and strategy that I love. I would say that having done a graduate degree in marketing really shaped by passion for the field. Especially having done the degree in Scandinavia - where research on B2B marketing is stronger.
I was working as the main web developer for a company who used very little tracking to understand their marketing efforts. I saw this as a great flaw and as something that needed to change ASAP if we were to grow as a company. So I worked and worked to see how to track efficiency and was introduced to the world of direct/data-driven marketing. After tracking, I was interested in optimization and efficiency efforts, which both come from this world of marketing.
I NEVER saw myself enjoying marketing. I was always against the idea of business and marketing because I always associated them with sitting in a cubicle all day or mailing out flyers.
Then I discovered the wonderful world of digital marketing, growth hacking, and startups. I now have real-world experience at a startup, and I've become fascinated with all aspects of digital marketing.
.. because during my first internship, I found the people working in the Marketing department to be more creative and fun to be around that the folks I was working with in the Logistics department.
Well and I started to ask questions like "Why are we doing this? Who is our customer? Why will they want to pay extra for that feature etc" .. which got me a second internship in the Marketing Department.
The rest is history.
I was working in architecture and I realized that the best part of the project was selling it. Once the project was won, your ability as a designer to shape the building was already drastically reduced. The most exciting part was the very beginning, connecting with the customer, understanding their mission and purpose, and painting a picture of what is possible. I worked in marketing and business development in the design industry for a while, and made the switch to tech when I saw that technology, particularly software, was playing an even bigger role in shaping behaviors than architecture was.
I built a website that would serve as the Kelly Blue Book for smartphones. I needed to get users so went to the library and read every marketing book I could find. It soon became an obsession.
I was a year into my first job as a staff design engineer in a military contractor. WORST. PLACE. EVER.
One day I walked past a large meeting room where a semiconductor company was doing a "databook dump". Their two sales engineers were funny, and I noticed how they pulled information from each visitor as they traded quips. I still remember, to this day, how they got to think on their feet & have fun doing it.
I started working on an exit plan the same day.
I used to be a financial adviser to expats. On the second day of a new job about 10 years ago, my new boss brought me a "contract rider" to sign that listed all the methods of marketing that I was NOT allowed to do. To me it looked like everything in the world was on that list, with the exception of cold calling. That was what he wanted me to think. The next day I started reading about marketing. Gary Halbert was my first find, then John Reese and ... I was cold calling for about 9 months, but by the end of those 9 months I had my own email newsletter (remember Mailloop?), a very bad website and a column in a newspaper.
Well by profession I am an Industrial Engineer, but have always loved the way Internet works.
Having interest in exploring a lot of stuffs made me knowledgeable how the stuffs work and how it can be used to get the things done.
Started learning programming on my own and now being founder of India's #1 Deal website, all my skills are yielding good result.
By blind luck. In the late '90s, I was working on the content side at Uproar, an early online gaming company. I wanted to move to the NY office, but was having trouble figuring out which role to work on once I moved. A spot opened up on Sean Ellis' online marketing team, and I figured he was a smart guy who seemed willing to teach me (as he told me on my first day when I expressed nervousness at my lack of online marketing experience, "The good news is, no one else is more than a year ahead of you.")
Within a couple months, I was absolutely hooked, specifically on the proto-growth hacking approach that Sean was taking to build Uproar's user base. We measured and optimized everything we could get our hands on, and sought out creative ways to drive traffic and registrations. I had always thought of marketing as being all about branding and TV ads, but the quantitative approach fit much better with my own work style and motivations.
I've since moved on to more product-focused roles, and now consider myself more of a hybrid product manager/marketer. But the ROI mindset still informs just about everything I do.
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