Believe it or not – and given all the bad news around marketing in the last few months, many people do not – I believe today is the best time ever to work in marketing. It is time to rethink the idea that the Mad Men era or the 1980s were the golden age. Bleak assessments around the state of marketing are simply wrong.
I recently had to present to a group of master’s degree students – the exact master’s I had done all those years ago, so I had to think through my career, and give them some useful career advice that they could act on. In the end, the summary of why now is the best time ever in marketing boil down to one word: opportunity.
The quantity and quality of opportunities in marketing is so far ahead of what was available when I graduated, both from my undergraduate and when I completed my MBA. So different are these opportunities that we might as well be talking about a different epoch, not just a different era. For example, the concept of joining a startup was simply not thought about. Why? Because the notion of a startup was not something you could comprehend.
Even 10 years ago, when I finished my MBA, a junior marketer entering the industry would still be choosing media from radio, TV, print and outdoor for the majority of what you would do day to day. I was one of the few people I knew spending heavily on Google AdWords. Concepts such as content marketing and Facebook advertising simply did not exist.
When I managed my first website in 1999, I needed many hours to get the website to do something simple, like ask for an email address and or create an email list. Today, automated tools and content management systems such as a WordPress allow anyone to build a beautiful integrated website from a template with advanced database and automation functions, for next to nothing. I can create an ecommerce shop using BigCommerce and Shopify in less than half an hour; or use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) to warehouse my products – and pick, pack, ship, and provide customer service for these products.
In the past, the biggest obstacles were physical things: people, time, or maybe investment. If you wanted to publish a book, you needed to find and convince a publisher to work with you so that they could print your book and get it stocked in physical bookstores. Now, anyone can publish a book quickly and easily, and offer it directly or through Amazon. There is no printing or shipping cost for an eBook.
As author Seth Godin says, “anyone with access to the internet owns their own factory and their own printing press”. That phrase encapsulates the very essence of opportunity facing us all – not just marketers.