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Career Story: Self-Employed Marketing Consultant

Self-Employed Marketing Consultant

Job Title: Marketing Consultant

Type of Company: I am a self-employed consultant working for small and large technology firms helping them develop strategic marketing plans to sell their products. I also develop and implement marketing programs for those same companies.

Education: BS, Mechanical Engineering, Brown University •• MA, Art History, Brown University •• MBA, Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Business

Previous Experience: I worked for two years at an architectural engineering firm as an entry level engineer and learned about the different aspects of the company. I then went to business school and afterwards took a job for three years at Lotus Development, marketing software to engineers and scientists. After a brief stint as a headhunter, I ended up at another software company, which sold software to technical professionals, and I remained there for 5 years.

Job Tasks: Marketing is a wonderful application of creative thinking to help sell products. The interesting thing is that marketing skills can apply across many industries so my background in engineering and science isn't particularly relevant to many of the consulting assignments I now work on. I work from my home, so much of my communication is by email or phone, but I usually meet with a client when I am starting a project and then again at convenient intervals. There are many touches on a regular basis with project updates.

A market research project I worked on recently was for a camp that was looking to build a strategic five-year plan. The camp had several constituencies who were trying to figure out what the regional trends were in terms of investment in plant, staff, recruiting campers, fundraising, etc. I started by gathering information from the key people on the camp board and staff and built a survey. Together we revised the survey and I then went to work finding interviewees who fit the camp's demographic. I mostly interviewed people by phone, spending about 45 minutes on each call. I made periodic updates with my client on the status of my calls and initial findings. Once all the calls were complete, I extracted trends and inconsistencies from the transcripts and created a PowerPoint slide deck that provided enough information so that my presentation to the camp board gave insight, food for thought and direction for future action.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: I love the creativity of marketing where you can see interesting ideas from magazines, new product introductions, product failures and changes in technology which provide different marketing opportunities.

There isn't much I don't like about marketing. I only wish it were easier to track and prove the success or failure of particular marketing campaigns since then it would help marketers to better spend future dollars.

Job Tips:
1. Learn marketing in a firm where you can learn many different aspects, including advertising, online, direct, etc. 2. Marketing requires hands-on work. Always keep that in mind. 3. Make mistakes, because that is the best way to learn.

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