If you ever hired a recent college graduate for a marketing position at your company, odds are you were amazed at their lack of knowledge. Not of basic marketing concepts like the 4 P’s, advertising, or branding but their utmost ignorance of modern marketing tactics and tools like webinars, marketing automation, and even CRM software.
What are College Students to Do?
If you’re in college (or know someone who is), there are things you can do now so that you don’t flunk the next marketing job interview. More importantly, you’ll be ahead of other candidates if you show that you are aware of the following terms, topics, and technologies:
Webinars: you should attend a webinar to understand what the experience is like, and if possible present a webinar as well. That’s easy today with free trials of the major players, like WebEx, Adobe Connect, and GoToWebinar, and with free webinar platforms like Anymeeting, MeetingBurner, or FreeWebMeeting. What hiring companies want: someone that understands how to prepare for and conduct a webinar (aka the logistics), how to market a webinar, and how to use webinars effectively as part of the marketing mix.
Email Marketing: according to MarketingSherpa, email marketing is still a top tactic employed by marketers to reach out to their prospects and customer base. You’ve got to understand how email marketing works, how it is used successfully and what pitfalls to avoid. Part of this is the CAN-SPAM act, which you should familiarize yourself with (interviewers will like if you show that you at least have an idea of what it’s all about). Setup a free account with MailChimp and play around creating an email and landing page, send out your next party invite to your friends using it to see how it works.
Marketing Automation: the typical step-up from email marketing, marketing automation software (such as Marketo, Eloqua, Act-On, Pardot, and others) allows you to automate the sending of your emails and, more importantly, of nurturing your leads. If during an interview with a potential employer you can demonstrate that you know the concepts behind the sales and marketing funnels, lead nurturing, lead scoring, and what is the ROI of a marketing automation platform then you will be regarded as someone that is keeping up with the latest trends in marketing.
Social Media: just because you use Twitter and Facebook in school, it doesn’t mean you really know how to use it for marketing. So read up on success and failure stories, play around with tools such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, check out Klout, and be prepared to articulate what role does social media play in a company’s marketing program and a good understanding that when not used properly, social media can backfire.
Content Marketing: content marketing is not new, but it is all the hype now. A good understanding of the difference between whitepapers and ebooks, along with other forms of content publishing and distribution will give you valuable points during the interview process.
Trade Shows: companies of all sizes at one point or another in their lives end up attending or exhibiting at an event. The closest example you, college student, might have of what a trade show is might be your next career fair. Next time you attend one, pay attention to how different companies exhibit their services, how the people behind the tables or booths interact with the attendees, what handouts or giveaways they offer, and the overall experience. Having an idea of trade show tactics and what goes into trade show planning can be tremendously helpful especially if the company you are interviewing for attends trade shows (check their “about us” page or usually under “news and events” section of the website for a list of their upcoming appearances at local and national events).
The Modern Marketer
We’re just scratching the surface here, but these I think are some of the key marketing tactics employers would like you to know about when they interview students for marketing internships or junior marketing positions. Sure, there is always on-the-job training but if you are a marketing student, make it easier on yourself (and the hiring company) and brush up on your modern marketing skills and terminology.
If your current educational institution is not including the list above in your marketing curriculum, you have to either a) tell them to read this blog or b) learn it on your own. Good luck!