Thursday, January 19, 2006

So you want to be in marketing....

It's 3pm on a Thursday, and I've been sitting in the same spot, in the same conference room, in the same meeting, for 7.5 hours now. I'm long tired of surfing the Internet, reading my personal e-mail, and IMing my friends, (all while I pretend I'm paying attention, and dropping the occasional knowing look, thoughtful nod, or well-timed comment). And I've got at least another hour and a half before I can safely move.

This is marketing.... well, at least that's what I do lately.

I'm not sure how, precisely, I decided that I wanted a career in advertising. I'm pretty sure I got the idea from my best friend in high school. From Fall of 1986 forward, that was my plan. I headed to college in the summer of 1987, and promptly declared my major...advertising. After some success in getting an advertising-like job while in school, working as an Assistant Art Director for the local newspaper, The Daily Herald. Ok, so now I know I was deluded to think that my year of experience laying out car ads and manually cutting color for grocery store ads would be the ticket to a job in advertising in my home state of Colorado. (More on the color cutting. In those days, to add a color to the printed advertising pages, I actually had to use an Xacto knife to manually cut out the fruit, laundry detergent, and so on from a plastic color plate....this was just at the beginning of electronic typesetting - we did some work on a Mac as well).

After getting to Colorado, after a number of unsuccessful attempts to get myself into the small advertsing agency comunity in Denver, I got a job as an Account Executive (read: ad salesman) for the AutoTrader, 100% commission. This was prior to the WWW being widely used/available, so I sold full page ads in the print version of the AutoTrader (don't forget the Truck, Old Car, Boat and RV Trader!) to used car dealers. After spending exactly a year navigating the seven circles of hell (everything you've ever heard about used car dealers is true...), I took the first decent job I could get at a big company. It was a customer service job with a company that provided Satellite TV programming via C-band (the big dishes). While it felt like a little bit of a step back, over time, as I climbed the ladder in customer service, I was able to land a job as a product manager for another division of the company.

While it wasn't advertising, it required me to use my writing skills and creativity, and I loved it. After a number of years in product management and product development, working for a few companies, I decided that I finally wanted to try again to crack into the world of advertising/marketing. So I took a "marketing" job (quotes applied because I have "Marketing" in my title, but if you followed me around for the day, you'd never know it).

I probably got my idea about what my career would be like from watching reruns of thirysomething. You've seen the TV shows/movies - you know, the ones where beautiful, creative people, spend all day brainstorming new slogans for their wildly successful ad agency, in a conference room in the loft with the exposed brick and the floor to ceiling windows with the million-dollar view , writing madly on cocktail napkins, selling the slogan to the ecstatic client, heading out for dinner at 21, then heading home to their loft with exposed brick and floor to ceiling windows with the million dollar view.

So...that's not quite my life as a marketing guy. I took the latest job on the hope that I'd find some of that stereotypical advertising career stuff. So far, no dice.