DISCLAIMER: These are my observations and thoughts about the online marketing space and professionals in India. I have no clue what happens elsewhere.
For those of you who don’t know what I do for a living, I help businesses get more visible on the interwebs.
As part of my job, I need to hire at least half a dozen young recruits to do online marketing for me every six months or so. Needless to say, I have to sift through a few hundred resumes and multiple interviews before it finally gets to a point where I’m finally ready to make an offer.
But, I’m seeing a very discouraging trend:
- Almost 90% of the folks whom I interview have no clue about how online advertising works (think, difference between indexing, caching and crawling or what is the difference between a metric and a dimension)
- Most of the folks took up a career in digital marketing simply because they got no other job
- Most of them are neither passionate and are open to shifting industries if it means they get paid marginally more
This is sad..
Not just because it makes it harder to get talent – but, because this is happening in one of the most fulfilling and profitable professions I’m aware of.
It appears like online marketing is not sexy anymore and the smart kids just want to do something else.
This needs to change, fast. And, they *could* change if we try to implement some of these ideas.
There exist a lot of smart kids who could end up being kickass marketeers, they just don’t know it yet.
As marketers ourselves, we need to help them understand how fulfilling and interesting this space is. No other profession really allows you to grow as fast as you would in this space and makes it this easy for you to become an entrepreneur if you want to.
Do you know a smart kid that hates flipping switches in a dead-pool job? Educate them about our industry.
Talk to everyone you know about how this is a great career option and possibly a better option than most others.
We Need Schools That Train
You’d be surprised how many MBAs with their major in marketing have no clue about how there is a paradigm shift happening to digital when it comes to advertising and marketing.
Digital isn’t getting as much mind-share as traditional advertising. Though awareness is increasing, it’s not happening as quickly as we’d like.
We need the folks in the IIMs, IITs and XLRIs to take notice and start offering digital marketing as part of their coursework.
Heck, it might help if IIM-Bs director’s contact email got a couple of hundred people asking him why they don’t cover digital marketing as part of their curriculum.
It is also a completely different matter that there are not as many finishing schools out there as one would like. I can’t find one in Chennai, for instance.
We Need Better Trainers
The interesting thing about what we do is that, a lot of this information cannot be crammed by reading a book. I’m more of an expert at Search Engine Optimization, and I think it’s more of an art, and there are different practitioners with different schools of thought.
All of us practitioners are so busy making moolah, or gyrating over campaign success that we don’t really go out there and teach people. Yes, I’m talking about going to a University meetup and talking to students, not tweeting your 160 characters of thoughts.
If we could share with students, budding entrepreneurs and folks who are genuinely interested in what we’re doing, there’s going to be so much more talent that becomes available.
I know of at least ten different people in my social circle who could become great mentors / trainers / teachers, but just aren’t doing it yet!
We Need Consensus
The software industry has NASCOMM. What do we have?
Some folks say SEMPO or IAMAI is the alternative, but it is my personal opinion that neither is really reaching out to students and enthusiasts who want to get into the industry, or evangelizing internet advertising as much as they should be.
We need a pan-India body who’s sole purpose is to get more people into the fold.
Let’s Make Online Marketing Interesting Again
A question that’s been running in my mind constantly is that “Are we getting too process oriented at the risk of converting something very interesting into something super boring?”
Being a marketer isn’t similar to being a software engineer – most companies that do online marketing (myself, included) seem to be process heavy at the risk of making the process dull and drab.
We need to operate more like PR Agencies and Advertising Agencies; we need to foster creativity and make this job interesting again.
We Need To Pay Better Money
At the place I work, we pay approximately $600 to a kid fresh out of college – but, to my surprise, I find that a lot of people with three or four years of experience in the industry, don’t even make half of that.
This is BAD – a guy sitting in the bench in any Indian IT mega-corporation probably makes closer to $500/mo. Considering the fact that it is super easy to land a job in any of the SWITCH companies, why would any recent graduate want to waste their time on a $100 – $200/mo job in the internet industry?
We pay way too less as an industry to expect folks to take us seriously – we need to up the bar and quick.
If a fresher software engineer can be paid $500 – $1000/mo, our industry needs to catch up!
We Need BRAND
A lot of our decisions as Indians is influenced by brands, our parents, our neighbors and the random person we meet in a family gathering. In the 60s and 70s, everyone wanted to work for the Government. In the 2000s, everyone wants their kids to work in a software company.
2013 and beyond, we need to get kids and their parents to WANT to look at us as a serious career prospect.
The first step in doing that is to brand ourselves – what NASSCOM is currently doing for the Indian software, or what one of the larger Indian IT companies are doing for themselves.
I’m writing this as an appeal to fellow online marketers, folks who run digital media companies and enthusiasts – let’s try to implement some of these steps and reverse the trend.
Digital Marketing SHOULD NOT be the second choice for someone looking at career options.
Do you have ideas to make being an digital marketer sexy? Please add them as comments and I will include them in this essay.