Wow. Thanks for checking out my about page. I’m happy you’re here. Really. So you want to know my story? I’m a guy working at an ad agency in Southern California. I’m not rich. I haven’t made a ton of money on the internet—yet. I don’t consider myself a guru and I don’t have a magic formula for strategic marketing. However, I am obsessed with marketing. And I’ve followed my obsession as my job as an account supervisor for some of the world’s biggest brands—AAA, DIRECTV, Adobe, Boston Scientific, Symantec, SAP and many others.
The cool part for you comes from the fact that I used to work in the small business world, so when I share my marketing lessons they should be easy to digest and put into action for all you small business marketers out there.
Why the Strategic Marketing blog?
I see so much money wasted by marketing departments simply because people don’t know what they don’t know. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve seen companies buy a big expensive product or hire a costly vendor to solve their problems when they didn’t really need to. This always leaves me wondering if there is an easier and better way to do things on the cheap. Most of the time, if you’re willing to just learn, there is and I want to share.
My mission is to show people and small/medium businesses why they shouldn’t be intimidated by marketing and marketing technology. There are a ton of big impact things you can do yourself if you only knew what marketing tools and techniques existed. And even if you didn’t have the time to do it yourself, at least I can give you the knowledge to effectively find the best solution.
My Story—How I Was Bitten by the Advertising Bug
I went to school for mechanical engineering at the University of Connecticut. I love math, numbers, science and hard evidence. So, engineering was a match made in heaven. My senior year, I signed up for an experimental program called the Entrepreneurial Senior Design Project. For those not familiar with engineering programs, most schools require engineering students to complete what’s called a senior design project, which is essentially incorporating everything you learned into one elaborate design project. Think of it as my thesis, but I had to physically build something too.
The entrepreneurial design project merged the school of business with the school of engineering. I had to take MBA courses and lead a team of MBA students to not only fully design a product (by the way, the word product is rarely in an engineer’s vocabulary), but also create a full business around that product. It was a TON of work and still to this day I’ve never had to work harder. Imagine balancing a full engineering course load, MBA courses, a full-time job (yes, full-time) and the fabrication of a complex prototype with all that extracurricular drinking. Sleep was a luxury.
But the lessons learned that year can’t be found any other way.
For one, I discovered that I wasn’t wired for how tediousness engineering can be. The design phase is absolutely amazing. The brainstorming, sketching and modeling with CAD software was incredibly fun and rewarding, but beyond that, I had to spend days doing analysis and material selection to make sure my designs didn’t fail. It got boring, quickly.
I found myself always thinking about the business side of the project. What was the business model going to be? How would people purchase the product? How would we market to them? The idea that there was this game out there called business and that you played by moving parts around in your company fascinated me. I knew the business side was for me.
Our project ended up being pretty successful. We won several awards, which included beating out Yale at the statewide elevator pitch competition and winning $5,000 at a venture capital ran business plan contest. UConn hired me and my co-founder after graduation to work in business incubator called the Innovation Accelerator. We spent about 4 months working on our business, but unfortunately decided the company wouldn’t be viable because of some tricky industry forces, namely the insurance sector. The experience was so amazing.
I learned that you find the greatest lessons through failure.
If you’re interested in the project, here is a design video my buddies and I shot for the presentation I had to do at the end of my college career:
After the incubator, I went to work for a R&D (research and development) company as a business development planner. I spent a year there until landing a job at a strategic marketing agency in Los Angeles, which is where I really cut my teeth in the ad industry.
Now, my daily includes creating strategic marketing plans for large companies and optimizing their national campaigns through data analytics and killer creative executions. It’s been amazing to be able to apply my analytical engineering background to an industry that has historically lacked a data-driven mindset. I solve new marketing challenges everyday which keeps it fresh and makes me to absolutely love my job. I am really lucky to be working in such an interesting industry.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you have any questions about marketing, you can alway hit me up on Twitter at @cjforse and I’ll be happy to share what I know.
I hope to see you on the blog!