Setting yourself up for success as an aspiring marketer
Austin Widdowson is no stranger to marketing, branding, and designing, as he is the Brand Marketing Director at Evolution Craft Brewing Co. in Salisbury, Maryland. But Austin takes this knowledge beyond his work at the brewery; he believes self-marketing, taking risks, and becoming a self-learner are vital for all those who are aspiring marketers, artists, or searching for a new job opportunity.
On this week’s episode of the Zesty Marketing Podcast, Austin tell us how to brand and sell the best version of yourself to employers, build and strengthen your creative portfolio, and become a jack-of-all-trades marketer.
Risk-taking and perfecting your branded “You”
“You have to have that innate hustle. You’ve got to be a self-starter. The willingness to take risks, the willingness to bet on yourself.”
Up for the challenge? Austin says these traits are at the core of marketing, especially in the fast-paced, action-packed world of tourism and attraction marketing we love so much. Austin claims his artistic and professional success comes from his willingness to bet on himself, to keep moving forward — even to the point of “fake it til’ you make it.”
Beyond the essential character traits, one of the things that, in Austin’s opinion, gives job applicants a “leg-up” is when they’ve perfected their own person brand — meaning their website, portfolio, LinkedIn, resumes and cover letters are consistent. Style, logos, color palettes, and language should be developed and consistent across all your self-promotional platforms, just as if you were branding a company or product. Think of it as a way to prove you’ve got what it takes to create and uphold a brand standard, and it gives you a chance to market yourself the way you want to be seen by the world and by employers.
Self-learning and the “Swiss Army knife” of skills
Some of us are inherently curious about new technologies and keen to learn new skills, while others want to become masters of one craft. According to Austin, as a marketer, it’s important to develop your skills to the point of becoming a “Swiss Army knife” so that if the need arises, you could hop in and design a logo, push promotions on social media, write up a blog post, and even film and edit videos.
“Nothing that I learned in college (outside of philosophy) is current with 2018 and 2019 and beyond that. The software, the hardware is new. I’ve had to self-learn.”
Self-learning is an important part of adapting to the changing world around us, especially as new and emerging technologies affect the way buyers buy and marketers market. Tutorials live all over the Internet, whether you’re looking for a quick, free video on YouTube or a paid service like Lynda.com with teachers and more in-depth classes. If you’re able get your hands on a little bit of everything, your marketing and branding materials will be stronger and more consistent, and you can sell your versatility to potential employers.
Building your creative portfolio
For new marketers and those who are graduating from college, it can be difficult to prove yourself to employers when you don’t have a lot of professional work in your portfolio. Some people might be inclined to do “spec work,” where they create a design or a video for a company they make up or a big-name company that already exists, just for the sake of showing off their abilities. Austin, however, advises against this.
“I’d get involved with a local charity, get involved with a company that a friend owns, get involved with an up-and-coming brand in your market that doesn’t have the financial resources, doesn’t have the marketing/advertising department, and figure out a way to either intern and/or volunteer.”
Austin sees way more value in building a portfolio of real-life examples, creating work for a non-profit or a new company in your community. There’s a lot of need for that kind of work, and it shows that you’re dedicated to help an up-and-coming company get on its feet. After all, it’s all about selling the best version of yourself to the world, right?
Tips for success in marketing
- Get involved with your local tourism board, arts council, or marketing non-profit.
- Become a self-starter and a self-learner — tutorials are your friend.
- Market the version of yourself that lives in the niche you’re applying for.
- Be willing to do some work for free to start out and build your portfolio.
- Make content regularly to sharpen your skills.
- Be able to collaborate and delegate.