Maia Tihista, VP of global marketing at Flexera Software, shares three things you should know when interviewing for your first marketing role
Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to interview recent graduates for entry level positions. And while there are core things that I look for in a recent graduate, the skillset required today is much different than it was even 10 years ago. Back then, I would be looking at media kits for technology publications and trying to measure the impact this advertising spend would have on my business. Today, the method of delivery is digital, with a myriad of means to track clicks and opens and impressions, and the list goes on.
I did some quick research on institutions to see how well they are keeping up with the times in terms of their marketing courses and while I am seeing some improvement – there still is a lot that is missing for the typical marketing graduate today.
Here are some things I think you should know for your first marketing job:
1. Search engine marketing is not social media
I have asked many candidates if they understand search engine marketing (SEM), and the response I usually get is “Yes, I am on Twitter all the time.” University and college graduates of today grew up with social media, but they do not understand how the internet works in terms of generating awareness, interest and customers for a business. Understand SEM and you will understand how people consume information during each stage of the buying cycle – and most of it is done online these days. Depending on the type of product you are buying, anywhere from 40 per cent – 95 per cent of the purchase process is started via the internet. And where do they start that process? With a search engine. Understanding the role of a search engine and the importance of ranking high in a search query is going to be an important element in your new marketing role.
2. B2B and B2C marketing are very different
Know the terms and what they mean, and how marketing differs depending on whether you are marketing to businesses or to consumers. For example, my company sells software to other companies that want to manage their software applications. On the other hand, Microsoft sells Office 365 Home software to consumers. How I market my software to companies and how Microsoft markets its products to you is very different. Spend some time on the internet to read about the differences, so that when you go into an interview you will understand the company a bit better.
3. Marketing automation platforms – know your ‘MAPs’
As a marketer, you are going to need to find ways to reach out to your target audience. You may purchase radio or television ads, billboards, or digital ads on websites. All of this information about your audience needs to be stored somewhere, and that is why most modern marketing departments today have what is called a MAP (marketing automation platform). Do you actually need to know how it works right out of school? No – but you need to know they exist and how they are used. It is also helpful to understand customer relationship management (CRM) software – like Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle. Many of the MAPs you use for marketing automation have integration into a CRM system for lead flows and customer tracking.
If I am interviewing you right out of school and you can talk to me intelligently about any of these listed above, the chances of you being hired increase dramatically. You cannot just rely upon your marketing courses to teach you what is going on in the real world today. Reading marketing blogs and undertaking an internship where you are exposed to marketing will also help you to understand what area of marketing will be of interest to you longer term.