Marketing Life

My Experience of Marketing

Marketing, although still widely misunderstood by most small business owners, is a common term used today, and it feels like we’ve used this word forever.  It’s only when you think back, and realise, that actually it’s a fairly new concept.  I was pondering this recently…

Discovering Marketing

I first heard of the term and concept of “marketing” when I was working in customer service at Bundaberg Sugar, in Brisbane, Australia back in 1999.  I was working with the Retail Sales Manager and a person called the “Marketing Co-ordinator”.

I had never heard this term before, and I didn’t really understand what this person did, even as I worked alongside them.  It was only when the person doing the job left, that everyone began to discuss the hiring of the new Marketing Coordinator.

When I sat and thought about it, I realised it looked like a “fun” job.  The position involved a lot of creativeness and free-thinking, to invent and develop fresh ideas that the customers would like.  It didn’t really require “technical” expertise, from what I could see.  And it did mean meeting and talking to lots of people, from the design agency to other marketing people and managers.  It looked easy to me, so I asked about applying.

I was quickly told – “ need a Marketing Degree if you want to get a job in Marketing”.  Well, I’d never heard of a Marketing Degree, and I understand that degrees can take 4 years fulltime or 8 years part-time, so I quickly abandoned the idea.  And a new Marketing Co-ordinator was hired, with a Marketing Degree.

Accidentally, I became more involved and curious about Marketing, and I tried to understand what would be SO complex, that it would require so much “intensive” training and study.  I worked alongside the Marketing Coordinator, but still I couldn’t see what was so hard.  Also I helped work on the company stand at the Retail Expo at the nearby convention centre, and I found discussing our brand and products with other companies very enjoyable and effective.  From what I understood, it involved getting lots of feedback from the clients, and then changing the way we did things and presented things as a company.

A Marketing Job Opportunity

It was only in 2004, as a new employee of a growing educational charity in the UK, that my interest in marketing really took off.  I would discuss with the director all my ideas for engaging more clients and making more money and over-hauling the “brand” of the charity, to a more colourful image.  He encouraged me… and so I became the manager of the marketing for The Learning Curve.

Once I got into it, I realised – I loved it!  We re-designed the website, designed a new newsletter, held better events, and got so many more free write-ups in the local newspapers.  The Director even encouraged me to study Marketing, so I could be even better.

So I enrolled in the nearest CIM Marketing course.  The fundamentals were great, and the other students were so much like me – enthusiastic and creative.  I liked the way they saw the world.  I’d never been in a group before where everyone saw possibilities and opportunities.  It was contagious.

BUT the problem started for me with the textbook.  The teachings were so rigid, and I disagreed a lot with the textbook.  I thought there were ways to do it better, and smarter…  Unfortunately this is not the way it works in “college”.  It was a difficult decision, and everyone encouraged me to stay and “get the qualification”.  But it was against what I believed in, and I thought, if I could self-educate and find a better system, that makes money faster and more efficiently, wouldn’t this be better than a qualification….

Being a Professional Marketer

Well, 5 years later, I’m still glad I left, and didn’t get the “qualification”.  I have learned so much about Marketing these past 5 years, and I know I still have a lot to learn.

But I think Marketing is more an attitude than an aptitude.  It’s like a gift…. and I’m glad I’ve got it, and that I’m good at it.  Now the fun part is using it…

Marketing Manager, Content Strategist and Writer driving Engagement and ROI. On weekends I'm a Property Investor, Traveler & Coffee Snob


  • technology review

    Well marketing has become a quite effective tool for improving u r brand value in terms of internet marketing is concerned I agree to the point that u need not require a degree for doing it u just need to have the aptitude

    • Fiona

      @technology review, Hi there, thanks for your comment. Yes, marketing your brand through internet marketing is really so much more than plain ol’ “advertising”. That’s really great that you agree. And I appreciate your support with my feelings on “degrees” 🙂

    • Fiona

      @dana, Yes Dana, I think marketing is all about opportunity, and looking for improvements and possibilities. This makes a “marketing textbook” difficult to stick to. I think there should be some fundamentals. But those should be built on. 🙂

  • Susan Oakes

    Hi Fiona,

    Loved the post. I first heard on marketing way back when I was doing a commerce degree majoring in economics. Needless to say economics and I did not like each other. My mother was working for a marketing manager at the time and as it sounded more interesting I switched majors.

    Reality set in at my first job and found out the theory did not match up with the business practicalities. That said I had the best business and marketing education from my first employer J&J. Initially in sales although I wanted to be a product manager upfront. The thing is marketing is more than communication and although you do not have to have a degree it is important to get training with the right companies.

    Unfortunately many companies want that piece of paper and as someone who has hired and trained many marketers it is often the ones without degrees that do the best as they have want I think is essential – inutitive feel. That you can’t learn, you either have it or not.

    As it all things in life the more you experience something the better you can get at it.

    Well done and sorry for the long comment.

    • Fiona

      @Susan Oakes, Hi Susan,

      Wow, thank you for the long comment. And thank you for sharing your amazing story and experience with marketing. We seem to have a lot in common, and share some similar feelings about marketing.

      Yes, I think great marketers are guided by their intuition, linked to their creative ability.

  • Melanie Kissell

    “Marketing is more an attitude than an aptitude” – I love this, Fiona! And it’s SO true. You don’t need a degree in marketing. Marketing is an experience in creativity and branding and public relations. I’m proud of you for leaving that college course. I’m convinced you didn’t need it.

    The best marketing lessons learned are “hands on”, not from a textbook. Yes, if you want to become a brain surgeon, you need to go to college and earn your degree.

    You are one of the finest marketing experts I’ve ever met!! 🙂

    Thank you for sharing your story. I really enjoyed reading it.

    • Fiona

      @Melanie Kissell, Thank you Melanie for your support. During my career in marketing, I’ve met many people along the way who disagree with my theories about marketing education.

      Some people even think I’m anti-college or anti-learning, but I’m not. I believe you need to go to college or uni to learn some things, and textbooks can be great too. They are so carefully compiled the information is usually always concise.

      I just didn’t see a college qualification or an institutional textbook fitting in with my experience, and for what I want marketing to achieve.

      Thank you for your kind compliment. I know I still have a lot to learn and a long way to go, but I’m looking forward to the journey.

    • Fiona

      @Lauren, Thank you Lauren. I forget sometimes how much I have learned, and what I can do with it. It’s nice to take a moment to see exactly where you are. I really appreciate your support.