Going back to my discussion on Part 1 and Part 2, I mentioned how there are three building blocks which together form my passion for the marketing industry – the first two being “Creative” and “Strategic“.
Disclaimer: Oh BTW! Before I move on, it might be necessary to point out that I am in no way considering myself an “expert” in anything I have or ever will talk about in my blog. Everything will always be based on previously learned experiences (school, internships, extra-curricular, competitions, etc.), advice (networking, professors, etc.), case studies, books, and articles… and then some sprinkled-on personal opinion. You know, just in case you felt like putting away your grains of salt.
Anyways, in this last post in this three-part series, I just wanted to quickly share what I believe is the most important building block for any budding marketing student:
Being creative and being strategic is not enough. Marketers and marketing students alike have to show a child-like nature of inquisitiveness: the desire to learn or know about anything.
How does this apply to marketers?
Curiosity drives unique consumer insights. Many of the best campaigns over the last century have been founded on unique insights born from a combination of rigorous analysis and (as mentioned previously) creative problem-solving: re-framing problems in a new way by asking questions like “why?” or “what if?” Why do people do things that way? What if there’s a deeper reason? It’s a way of continuing to look at things that haven’t been looked at before; asking questions that haven’t been asked before:
- Why do we really drink coffee? What if it’s really about waking up – and the real “wake up” that happens is to the smell of coffee in the morning before we even get to take a sip?
- Why is it that we only think about the most boring product imaginable only when we’re out of it?
- Why did people really buy big, gas-guzzling shiny hunks of metal known as “cars” in the 1950’s? Why did a car need to be about the size (ps. both the car and the ego)? What if there were people who didn’t need to express themselves based on size? What if these people are more interested in thinking small?
Curiosity unlocks knowledge. And it is with that unique knowledge that marketers from Folgers, the California Milk Processor Board, Volkswagen, and many others from around the world can go on to create and strategize the most memorable marketing campaigns.
Why should this apply to marketing students?
Curiosity drives passion. From what I’ve seen so far, “passion” is a word that gets thrown around fairly easily in anybody’s resume. It’s easy to claim that you’re “passionate” about something. Be honest, when you’re asked in an interview to “Tell me about yourself”, how many times does the word “passion” appear within the first three sentences of your answer? (Seeing a few nods in the audience…) Well, here’s what I believe: outside of the interview, passion is not something you claim. Passion is something you do. And keep doing.
So what is it exactly that marketing students and soon-to-be-new-grads-and-forever-done-with-school should be doing?
In short: keep learning. And never stop learning. The reason why I believe this is important is that in today’s hungry, teeth-out-claws-out job economy, everyone is so eager to demonstrate how much experience we have to offer – whether it’s from a creative standpoint or a strategic standpoint – that we sometimes forget to let go of our egos and admit that we still don’t know everything. And we never really will.
Because true learning doesn’t come from a course syllabus or by someone else telling you what to do. True learning is a result of your own curiosity to learn more: to learn skills outside of a classroom, to learn industry trends outside of the office, to learn underlying reasons for people’s random quirks, etc. Only when we admit that we’re curious enough to keep learning and striving for more… only then can we truly claim that we are passionate about something.
According to Thomas Friedman, “The winners won’t just be those with more I.Q. It will also be those with more P.Q. (passion quotient) and C.Q. (curiosity quotient) to leverage all the new digital tools to not just find a job, but to invent one or reinvent one, and to not just learn but to relearn for a lifetime.”
By now, I hope you can tell that I’m moving the conversation away from “marketing” and letting you see how this mantra can really apply anywhere, across any industry, to whatever goal you set out to accomplish. As always, tomorrow is what you make of it.
So be creative. Think strategically. Stay curious. Keep asking questions. Never stop learning. This is how you build passion.