Recently, I was asked to present at the Online Marketing Show in June. Whilst having a think about the content, it dawned on me that it is 10 years since I started out as a marketing assistant at an IT company as part of the Shell Step graduate scheme. Today, I am Marketing Director at 4Ps Marketing, and I thought it would be good to share my thoughts for people that are just starting out in the industry.

2002 > Help > Yes, I have a degree in marketing but wow; I really knew absolutely zero about marketing in the real world. Yes, I found it as annoying as everyone else of graduate age to hear “Wait ‘til you get in the real world”, but it is so true. My advice to any marketing graduate at this point in their career is to look for experience wherever you can find it. Don’t worry about the salary, just try to work with some good people. I know personally that if it was possible for me to pay money to work just one day with the late Steve Jobs, then I would. I have worked with lots of good and bad people in my career and learnt something from every one of them.

2002 > Search > I was introduced to paid search through a company called Espotting (Merged into Miva) and Overture (Now Yahoo Search). I couldn’t believe at the time that there was this marketing channel called PPC where you could bid on search terms and that you only paid for the advertising you used. I was aware of SEO because of a search engine called AltaVista, and I’d played around with some very basic SEO techniques before 2002 in this area. Funnily enough a few of those core basics still apply now to the Google algorithm.

2003 > Email marketing > Before this area became really saturated, Email marketing was literally the most amazing tool in the world for a marketer. Search was still in its infancy and display at the time could only be described as spam on a stick, so Email was a real star for me. It is amazing how much display advertising has evolved since then and has become a really important part of digital strategies.

2004 > Exhibitions > I spent most of 2004 on my bike, setting up and attending trade exhibitions. My main learning here was that attending an exhibition is a complete waste of time unless the people following it up know what they are doing. It probably sounds obvious but it is crazy how many companies fall at this hurdle.

2005 > Sales and marketing are the same thing > Many people will disagree with me on this point but it does make me laugh when you see sales and marketing teams working against each other. My belief is that marketing is the process from brand awareness, through to client acquisition and then client retention, no matter what sector you are in. There isn’t a bit that is sales and a bit that is marketing, it should be impossible to distinguish between the two.

2006 > Wiki > It seems strange now to think about a world without Wikipedia, but what I am referring to here is how revolutionary it was to be able to set up your own wiki. This was before we had the phenomenon that is now known as social media, and to be able to build and share content with an online community really felt amazing for me at the time.

2007 > Data >Matt Stannard, who is now our CTO at 4Ps Marketing, was a supplier to Kable and then the Guardian, where I was working. Matt taught me more about the importance of data in 2007 than at any other point in my career. I will never forget this grounding and I feel as the world becomes more digital, the importance of this area will only increase.

2008 > Contacts and knowledge > I set up the 4Ps website in about 2005 (I dare you to use the Google Wayback Machine to see how bad it looked!) to freelance at weekends and play with SEO techniques. It wasn’t until 2008 that I joined forces with Chris Hyland, a mate from uni, and we founded the agency 4Ps Marketing. All I would say is that if you are starting out in business, then you need a shed load of contacts, but you also need to know your stuff better than anyone else in the industry. Every single day, I read and talk to people to keep increasing my knowledge in digital marketing. I would argue that you won’t really progress in your career if you don’t have a thirst for learning.

2009 > Branding > My number 1 piece of advice for a brand or a marketer building a brand is to be yourself. Customers in B2B through to B2C markets want to deal with brands that are open and honest. Don’t try to build a brand around something you are not. The 4Ps brand is built on people; we hire good people and give them the skills to excel. Every brand needs to know who they are and then communicate this to the marketplace. If this doesn’t work, then you might be in the wrong marketplace.

2010 > Social media >I found 2010 an interesting year because all of a sudden, every man and his dog was a social media expert. I do believe that social media is having a huge impact on the world in a good way. For marketers, it is the most amazing tool in the world and if you are not using it personally and through work, then you are not doing your job right. If you say that you “don’t have time for social media” then you are definitely not planning your time correctly.

2011 > PR > I must admit that until 4Ps Marketing started regularly appearing in the press, I hadn’t really seen the impact that PR could have on a business first-hand. I see PR as the responsibility of everyone in the company and not just the marketing team. PR should be facilitated by marketing and driven by people wanting to tell the world about all the amazing things they are doing in their job.

2012 > Content plan > If you are a marketer without a content plan, you will really struggle to excel in an increasingly competitive environment. Also, in a post-Google Penguin world, you will not compete to your full potential in the world of search.

Future > I am extremely excited about what the next 10 years has in store for marketers and I can’t wait to get stuck in.

I was going to thank all the people who have helped me over the last 10 years but this isn’t an Oscar speech, and you all know who you are anyway. I hope you found this helpful and I invite other marketers to guest blog about their experiences.

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