Telemarketers, junk mail, salespeople…oh my! Rethinking marketing

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a writer. When picking majors in college, I chose journalism because I assumed being a writer meant working at a newspaper and ignored marketing because I assumed it was all sales. After a few eye-opening internships, particularly in the awesome marketing department at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, I quickly realized that my perception of marketing was way off.

The images associated with marketing are often that of telemarketers interrupting dinner, “junk” mail piled high in the mailbox or strong-armed salespeople competing to fill a monthly quota. While these tactics can all be facets of marketing, and effective ones if used properly, my internship experiences and post-grad career have helped me form a deeper appreciation of what marketing truly is.

Simply put, marketing is communicating a message to an audience using the appropriate medium. The definition is broad because so much falls under the umbrella of marketing. It’s not just sales, as I naively used to think. It’s building brand awareness, creating and maintaining strong customer relations, promoting an organization or individual as a go-to expert and so much more. But it all comes back to figuring out what you’re trying to say, who you’re saying it to and how best to make them listen. And of course once you’ve done all that, you have to determine if you were successful or not and evaluate your strategy accordingly.  

Last year I helped develop a public awareness campaign for the program I direct that is a great example of marketing in action. After seeing an increase in the number of investment fraud cases occurring online, our office realized more needed to be done to raise awareness about this important problem.

We first determined what our message was: investment fraud is occurring more frequently online and Hoosiers need to know how to spot scams and avoid falling victim. While our general audience is Indiana investors, for this particular campaign we narrowed it down to Indiana investors who use the internet. With past campaigns, we’ve used radio and TV spots to educate Hoosiers but it was clear the most appropriate medium in this case was online advertising. If the fraudsters were online targeting victims, we wanted to be there too with our educational message.

The final outcome was a unique, innovative marketing campaign that effectively reached Indiana investors online. Our main measure of success was the number of people clicking through to our site via our online ads. The campaign produced a 10.6 percent click-through rate, which we were really happy with.

Looking back, I don’t know that as a first-year journalism major I could have predicted I would end up utilizing my passion for writing in this way. However, I’ve loved my career so far as a marketing communication professional and can’t wait to see where it takes me next.

Have a different take? Share your thoughts below! Also, check out my take on personal branding and marketing (and my first attempt at video blogging!) here.


2 thoughts on “Telemarketers, junk mail, salespeople…oh my! Rethinking marketing

  1. Melanie – I think we have had very similar paths in our careers, so I can appreciate your analysis of the importance of being an effective communicator to do well in marketing. I have always said I’d be nowhere in PR/advertising/marketing had I not started out as a journalist. Whatever it is, I’m looking forward to seeing your next big marketing project come to life (and to hopefully be alongside ya, strategic partner ;)!

    • It’s interesting to think how my career path might have changed if I was a PR major or an actual marketing major. For what it’s worth, my two college roommates were both marketing majors but I was the one who always edited their papers

      Thanks for the comment!

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