This is my last column for Media as the publication migrates to its new format. Before I sign off from this forum, I want to leave a few final words of advice to the young people who are just coming into the marketing and communications industry and upon whose labours our strategies, campaigns, and tactics succeed or fail.
1. Do not go into advertising. Advertising is dead - it just hasn’t had the dignity to fall over yet. If you don’t believe me, you only need to ask why advertising agencies are starting to slide into everything from public relations to content creation to consulting to talent management. If there is life in the old girl, it is because of inertia and because there are still large markets where effectiveness is not yet the primary driver of expenditure. The industry will shrink, and you do not want to pin your career on prospects like that.
2. Marketing is out: Selling is in. Markets, as Tom Peters once said, never bought anything; customers do. Only marketers insist on finding niche markets, think customer “engagement” is a business goal, and talk about the value of brand more than the importance of sales. In a age of direct engagement with customers via technology, sales skills are now the most important part of your job.
So do not be a bureaucrat: spend your career in business coming up with ways of selling more good stuff and doing so in a way that helps people and does not hurt them, and you will be successful as a business person and a human being. If that sounds repulsive to you, look elsewhere for employment.
3. End the spin. The job of anyone charged with selling a company or its products does not begin with saying great things about it either. It begins with ensuring that the company is doing nothing bad. Your job, as the front-line guardian of your company’s reputation, is to be the most vocal opponent to immoral or dangerous behaviour on the part of your company or its officers. Fail to do so, and you join the ranks of BP, Toyota and Goldman Sachs.
I want to thank the folks from Haymarket for giving me this forum over the last three years and thank you for reading. The beat goes on at my blog and, as the opportunities arise, on campaignasia.com