How Did I End Up Here?

I was recently speaking to a college marketing class about the wonderful world of email marketing. While they were all stellar students -- and very inquisitive -- it was apparent that there isn't much by way of substance when it comes to the university-level curriculum dedicated to email marketing.

Let's face it. Email marketing should be at least a semester-long class that covers everything from creative and copywriting considerations to deliverability -- and everything in between. But sadly, that is not the case. During the lecture, the overwhelming question from the students was, "How do we get to where you are?"

After pausing to think (yes, I've been in the email biz *that* long), I realized that my path is the same as many today, but also a bit different. So what was my answer? What advice did I give? And why should any of you care? (Especially since you are likely already in the space if you're perusing this.) Well, read on and find out.

My answer: Out of college, I tried my hand at agency life and got to try a number of positions while I was there, but I quickly fell in love with direct marketing strategy development and the measurement and analytics that went along with it. And that's where it started. First, direct mail; next, marketing program development; and then email marketing. Agency-side, client-side and finally provider-side.



My advice: The great thing about marketing as a career choice is that you are truly limitless in your options. The basic fundamentals follow you from channel to channel and discipline to discipline. Try them all, learn from each experience and apply the best of those learnings to wherever you land.

Why should you care? We all came from somewhere, and it seems that we can all forget (conveniently) what was learned along the way. That's why it's important to be reminded of our roots from time to time. Email marketing isn't so unlike direct mail that we should shun the strategies that are employed just because they were born in direct mail. These strategies include such email biggies as targeting, segmentation, measurement, incremental analysis and my favorite -- planning. Just because you can get to market quickly with email doesn't mean you should rush out the door. Email programs could use just a little more planning. And that's more easily recognized if you have a background in other disciplines.

3 comments about "How Did I End Up Here?".
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  1. Joanne Jubert, April 15, 2010 at 10:04 a.m.

    Thanks for a little reality testing on "substance" of email marketing. A few years ago I took it upon myself to look for such courses and colleges didn't even know what "it" was.
    When colleges would here i was a "visual" creative they would tell me it best I take a web site design course.
    MIT had a course though I was sure that was over my head and out of my pocket. So thank you I guess there still isn't really an out there out there across the board.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, April 15, 2010 at 11:24 a.m.

    Even not that long ago, as a salesperson at a newspaper, it was unbelievable how many calls I used to get from college seniors asking how much an ad cost? When I asked about the details - local or national, frequency, objectives - they responded with that it didn't matter. They just need it for a final paper to graduate in advertising. Always, I told them to get the information before I would help them and gave them my direct line. Not one return call. So what do you think about those college "teachers" who are not in the real world?

  3. Kara Trivunovic from Epsilon, April 15, 2010 at 12:50 p.m.

    Paula - I agree completely! As a college student you don't really want to *do* the necessary leg work, but it is the professors responsibility to make sure they do. I think that professors can sometimes lose sight of the forest through the trees and *forget* what it is like to be a practioner versus and educator. That being said, there are a number of amazing professors out there that won't let you cut corners - mine was one - Dr. Hugh Daubek - who recently passed unexpectedly. Thanks for the lessons Hugh! They've not gone unappreciated!

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