What is a junior marketing associate?
A few years ago I discovered something that seemed bizarre: marketing degree programs at well-known universities don’t teach online marketing, especially startup marketing. At the time I was interviewing recent graduates for a junior marketing role and discovered they had basically no idea what they were doing.
The person I eventually hired had studied the 4 Ps and learned about brand management but had never edited a website, looked at Google Analytics, paid for traffic, written original content for the web, or even used Excel.
In the last few years I’ve continued to look back and wonder what would make the ideal junior marketer. What does a company require of a graduate? What can a college student do to prepare for a job in online marketing, especially at a startup?
My general rule for a team member: you must be able to write, design, or code. If you are not designing or coding, you must be a first-class writer.
Why? Because I want to spend my time helping someone become a better marketer, and I can’t do that if I’m spending my time correcting everyday writing.
Prerequisites (before applying for a job)
There are some more things I would rather not teach someone. These are prerequisites.
- What is the internet, what is a host/server, what is a web page?
Bonus points if you’re familiar with HTML and CSS. Tumblr and GA are free: if you’re really excited to work in marketing, why haven’t you tried it, yet?
- SEO and SEM are different
Otherwise, this tells me this you don’t understand the Google search results page (SERP), and because you think all results are either the result of money or meta keywords, you don’t think things through very well. Yes, I could clarify in two seconds, but I shouldn’t have to.
- How to use Excel (my go-to requirements: comfortable with pivot tables and vlookup)
Can you import messy data, clean it up, rearrange it, and analyze it? Can you create a model that lets you repeat this later with minimal effort?
- How to articulate what you are hearing and thinking
What are our assumptions? What are we testing? What does success look like in a particular situation?
- Good writing: grammar, spelling, minimal fluff. Strunk & White.
Marketing is about communication. Be good at the most basic form.
- A sincere interest in getting people to want what you have
Too often people apply for marketing positions and talk about working on “strategy”. That sounds like lazy thinking to me. I need to trust that you will be excited in the weeds, where we spend a lot of time. Strategy is cool, and we’ll talk about it, but that’s not really what being a junior marketer is about.
- A comfort with learning new tools
I get a little nervous when a resume lists out every analytics and social media tool the person has used. Learning new tools comes with the territory—it’s not an accomplishment and rarely worth listing.
What you’ll learn (after you’re hired)
Anyone can learn how to market. I (or any competent marketing lead) will mentor on things like:
- How to work backward from company goals to marketing goals
- How to think broadly about acquisition/engagement/retention
- How to find traffic
- How to attract traffic, both paid and organic
- How to determine whether a click/ad/campaign/service is a good investment
- How to write and design using best practices
- How to build a funnel
- How to write simple copy designed to move through a funnel
- How to convert
- How to A/B test
- How to email
- How to track everything you’re doing
- How to report on what you’re doing
- How to make decisions on what you’re seeing in reports
Assessing an individual’s progress
We measure progress down the generalist marketing path by anchoring discussions on eight functional areas:
- Understands, articulates, and advocates for the company brand
- Understands the market/space in which they are marketing and uses good judgment in delivering optimal materials
- Thinks rigorously through all steps of a marketing funnel or campaign and connects the dots between components
- Correctly collects, analyzes, and synthesizes data to provide insight and direction for the company’s marketing
- Works independently and effectively in a fast-paced, agile marketing environment
- Effectively balances creativity and constraints in driving projects to completion
- Leverages the right tools, services, and people to be as effective as possible
- Helps the company to achieve its goals faster by identifying opportunities for change and process improvements, generating solution options, and executing when appropriate
I’m curious how others think about hiring and mentoring junior marketers. What do you look for? How do you coach and mentor?