We all had those childhood dreams of what we wanted to grow up and be someday. Often they would change at the drop of a hat - or whenever we were introduced to something that appealed to us more - but it’s interesting to stop and consider the career road those youthful desires pushed us down.
Especially when those paths diverged from the norm dramatically, and placed you in a job you might have never dreamed you’d be working. At the time you probably considered the job pointless for your overall career, and just a way to make ends meet . . . until you got back into the industry you assumed you’d work in for the rest of your life.
Or, if you were smart, you would’ve been grateful for the new experience, and understood that anything you learned at that job might help you land the position of your dreams someday. This is definitely true for those considering a career in marketing, demand generation in particular.
Every Job Pays Off
My early passion for reading left me actually formulating a plan to become a struggling & starving novelist when I grew up. It was a romantic idea at the age of 9, when I was dutifully writing 4-page mystery “novels”, but I thankfully grew out of it by the time I got to high school. It was then I discovered I could combine my love for music and writing and actually get paid for my thoughts on musicians and albums!
So I went and got myself a degree in journalism, spending my college years juggling my gig at the local alternative newspaper with two other part-time jobs; one as an insurance company lackey, the other as a canvasser for non-profits. There was very little similarity amongst my three jobs, but I found the disconnect between them refreshing - especially because I felt I was gaining an advantage in the job market with all the random skills I was obtaining at each.
After college I relocated to Portland, Oreg., and it was a distinct time of hustling for almost anyone who lived in the city. There weren’t a lot of high paying jobs, and if you wanted to get by - and have enough money for post-work PBRs - it often meant you had to work multiple jobs. I was still in the mindset I could make a living and be very successful as a music journalist, so I accepted this idea wholeheartedly. Work as hard as you can to fulfill your dreams, amirite?
Fast forward a decade later, when I was still working whatever jobs came my way . . . and not making a dime as a music journalist. Thankfully it was around this time that I had a legit, and somewhat optimistic, epiphany: reviewing music was never going to be my big money-maker, but I had acquired so very many skills while working my side hustles that there were bound to be numerous job opportunities available for me.
In that decade I had:
Worked as an office assistant for a greeting card company, where I learned graphic design and product shipping
Wrote for a publishing firm, creating copy for everything from a healthy living magazine to a newsletter for area tree nurseries
Researched artists and songs for a music licensing business
Ran deliveries for a catering service
Answered phone calls and emails for an acupuncture clinic
Coordinated business (payroll, insurance, etc) and marketing for a knit shop
Scheduled lessons, managed bookkeeping, and handled marketing for a couple of music schools
Wrote reviews and articles for a number of music sites and publications
Self-taught myself web development, content and inbound marketing
So my skill set primed me for advancement in a number of industries, but marketing called out to me the most. And since I had really enjoyed my responsibilities in the ever-changing landscape of the marketing field, it was only right that I buckle down and devote a good chunk of my career path toward it.
It wasn’t long before I realized my scattered work background was just what a job in this industry more or less requires.
Apply All Those Skills for Marketing Mastery
The best thing I had learned from working such distinctly different side jobs is that you should never take a job for granted. There are innumerous things to learn from wherever you’re working, especially if you’ve got a willing and open mind. When you’re not developing skills from the various tasks and tools you utilize in the workspace you can also be learning a ton by observing how the higher ups at your job conduct interaction with clients, customers, other businesses, and staff.
This is definitely true if you end up working in separate industries over time - it exposes you to a wide variety of management techniques, and can give you a terrific edge in whichever type of business you end up in. Specifically, demand gen marketing.
The world of demand gen typically revolves around B2B marketing strategy, and that means those working in this industry will be required to master the following responsibilities. It might sound like challenging and extremely busy work, but if you’ve got a diverse work background like me - you’re just right for the job. Because it’s likely you’ve covered all of these responsibilities, in one way or another, while working with many different employers.
Meet tight and spontaneous deadlines. Deadlines should be considered the framework in which you live your life. If you’ve worked more than one job at a time, this idea should seem elementary to you. You know how to turn on a dime for your employer or client, and produce whatever they need at a moment’s notice.
Drum up innovative, out of the box ideas. With all your experience you’ve likely been exposed to a million ideas, good and bad. This has left your head swimming with thoughts on how to improve those ideas, or break them down into numerous, equally exciting ideas.
Perfect the ability to work with, and meet the expectations of, a broad base of personality types. Maybe you’ve had some good bosses, but it’s very likely you’ve had some bad ones, too. And both have almost definitely taught you how to read any CEO and deliver what they want, satisfactorily.
Develop marketing strategy that appeals to very specific audiences. There’s a good chance you’ve dabbled in both B2C and B2B processes in your previous work, and not just in marketing. Understanding how to direct your message to both will give you an advantage, as it means you can shape content a little differently than someone who’s only been trained in one or the other. Your experience in different fields will also give you great insight on how to approach different customer and client bases.
Work closely with sales departments and/or produce material that aligns with sales strategy. At this point you may have worked in sales, or at least had a role that collaborated often with this department. It’s possible you had the same experience as me and wondered what good teaming up with sales would do for you - but now that you’re in demand gen you see and appreciate the value such a collaboration provides. Understanding the sales side of business greatly amplifies your ability to sell to an audience with your content.
Manage multiple, often disparate, projects at once. Practically a no-brainer - anyone who’s worked more than one job at once should know how to organize and prioritize the large number of complex tasks at hand.
Perhaps you’re in a whirlwind of employment right now, trying to figure out when and how you’ll be able to break free from working multiple jobs. Take a breath and remember how beneficial all those skills you’re developing are. Then consider joining the demand gen world. We’d be happy to have you.