10 Years of Marketing: Highlights from 2003-2013

After scanning my news feed this morning to see all the resolutions and reflections of family members and friends of the past year, I couldn’t help but think about my own life in 2013 and where I’ve ended up.

Although many days I felt like I was being hit by a constant truckload of work, diapers and bills, 2013 definitely brought some amazing milestones:

  • My son had his first birthday and learned to walk.
  • I ran my first marathon.
  • I celebrated my fifth wedding anniversary and 10 years in a relationship.
  • We spent our first year in our new house.
  • I spent my 5th year working at the best job ever and passed the 10 year mark in the field of marketing.

And because this is a blog about marketing, I thought it appropriate to reflect on how the field has changed in the last 10 years and what lessons I’ve learned from working in it.

In 2003, the world of marketing was still primarily print. I was interning at Volvo under the VP of Marketing where my main project was to coordinate the production of a full-line product brochure. I learned how to work with an ad agency, arrange photo shoots, write product copy and work with a printer to produce the brochure. These were the days when websites were still fairly new, and people still relied very much on printers and creative agencies to help execute marketing projects. iStock Photo and iPhones didn’t exist, your corporate photographer was your best friend, and Adobe CS was the holy grail (and cost nearly as much).

The next few years brought a greater concentration on websites. In the past, websites were seen by marketers primarily as a platform to transform the company brochure into a digital format. Because Google was still catching on as the search engine to please, we were focused mainly on user experience, and how to get the most information to site visitors in the least number of clicks. In these days we called email campaigns “e-blasts” and CRMs such as Salesforce had begun to replace the company rolodex (aka Outlook).

Around this time in 2005, the male-dominated engineering firm where I worked as a Marketing Coordinator limited my role to “proposal writer” “document editor” and “notes transcriber.” Article and ad placements in industry print publications were still big for B2B marketing, so I spent a lot of time writing articles, maintaining project portfolios, pushing out contracts and proposals and hitting file, print, save. My boss was a grumpy micromanager who, for reasons unknown to me, did not like my work and I knew the only promotion I would be getting was to another department.

After realizing I was in a dead end job and there was more to learn in the field of marketing than the engineering industry could give, I took a position as Marketing Manager at a start-up healthcare association for physicians. The job title was alluring, but I had my work cut out for me. By this time, we were thick into the brave new world of digital marketing, where people were spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on fully integrated websites with built in communities, forums and backend databases. ROI became more tangible as pay per click became the new standard of advertising. Marketing research became more intelligent with better campaign analytics and demographic data. Social media was born and email marketing got bigger. We shifted from mass “push” campaigns to permission-based “pull” strategies.

It was in this period that I got my first taste of integrating CRMs, building website architectures, designing and managing online communities and digital content that ultimately gave me the experience that has allowed me to wear the many hats I do today. These days, my resume says I am a Director of Marketing but what that entails is many job functions within one: lead generator, community manager, email marketer, social media manager, SEO strategist, event planner, web developer, CRM administrator, blogger, graphic designer and more. To work in the field of marketing means you own any one of 10+ roles and to be successful means you need to know the ins and outs of all facets of each. And they are forever changing, pushing us to learn new programs, systems and algorithms every few months. We need to know why Google values and devalues certain website attributes and not others, what the latest social networks are and how to infiltrate them, and what features have been added that can make our jobs easier. And the beautiful thing is, once you think you know what’s going on, something new is released and suddenly you have absolutely no idea.

It’s an exciting field, marketing. And extremely humbling. I have always believed that when we stop learning we stop growing and start dying, and thanks to the field I’ve chosen, I will be learning for a long, long time. As I look forward to 2014, I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years will teach me.

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