The Biggest Issue In Marketing Today Is That No-one Has A Fucking Clue What Marketing Is.

Picture the scene… I’m 21 years old, fresh out of university. Just a few days after donning the old cap and gown to pick up my expensive piece of paper; I decide it’s probably a good idea to start looking for a job. I’m a highly qualified candidate; a 2:1 BSc in Consumer Behaviour & Marketing from a top university, work experience, a fantastic work ethic and a hell of a lot of ambition.

So I sit down in front of my laptop, and draw a complete blank. I literally don’t have a clue where to start… google ‘marketing jobs’? Maybe? I actually don’t know?

After a while I decide my best hope was to hop onto to a generic job website, type in ‘marketing’ and filter by ‘Entry Level’ (btw sooo happy that 3 years and £27,000+ of debt qualifies me for just an entry level job…). It was a good starting point to be fair. I soon figure out the keywords/job titles within marketing and roughly what they indicate.

To save you some time, anyone looking to begin a career in marketing will almost definitely start out as a Marketing Assistant.

So just working out what to search for was the first hurdle. Up next: figuring out what the actual fuck the job involves.

Words like content, copywriting, SEO, CMS, ATL/BTL, lead generation and multichannel are thrown around like there’s no tomorrow. And let me tell you, 3 whole years at university did not teach me what any of this is.

But, for some reason, every single job description states that a marketing degree is essential.

What’s concerning here, is not just that my marketing degree didn’t actually prepare me for the day-to-day tasks involved in a career in marketing, but that employers think that it did. They don’t know that even a marketing graduate isn’t aware of what any of this stuff means. Employers just assume that a marketing degree will equip all graduates with everything they need to know to serve their business straight away.

What I learnt was the theoretical framework behind marketing as it stands on it’s own, not how to actually execute it and the role marketing plays within a real-life business. While the framework IS hugely important (I’m really, really passionate about this bit — more articles to come!), it means nothing without execution.

Obviously, there is a huge disconnect between academia and real business. But I don’t think it’s a failure on the universities’ part alone. Businesses can learn something here too.

I don’t believe it’s a case of academia not understanding real business, but business not understanding academia either.

It’s very true that business and entrepreneurship is something you must do, not study — but I also think that a lot of businesses could avoid many costly mistakes (and achieve substantial business growth) by taking just a little bit of time to study, before they do.

I have now worked in marketing across a huge range of industries, agency-side and client-side, startups, SMEs and corporate — and I can safely say I am yet to meet anyone who actually knows what marketing is. Most people consider it ‘The Poster & Leaflet Department’, Sales, or Advertising, or Design. And it’s frustrating as fuck.

This truly baffles me. How…just HOW can people think that the multi-billion £/$ marketing industry is built on posters & leaflets? How can they possibly think that people spend their entire lives mastering the subject, and receive huge salaries when they become good enough, if it’s just posters & leaflets? HOW?

Not only is it frustrating for marketers — businesses are actually holding themselves back. Massively. If they took a little time to understand what marketing is and what it can do for their business growth, I can assure you they wouldn’t regret it.

The solution here is quite clear. Universities need to spend more time teaching the practicalities, and businesses need to spend more time studying the theoretical framework. Both sides are to blame for the disconnect, not one or the other.

Of course, just saying this is one thing. I’m on a mission to do something about it — if anyone would like to join me, get in contact!