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Marketing was never for the faint of heart. It requires the insight of a psychologist, the wit of a standup comedian, the stamina of an endurance athlete and a chameleon-like ability to adapt to never-ending business highs and lows.
But if you made the grade, you were rewarded by participating in an industry that attracted the best and brightest. More than that, marketing as a vocation was deeply satisfying because you knew that your work meant factories kept running and people kept getting paychecks.
Today, though, any casual observer can't help but notice a downright dour mood among marketing folks despite media's love affair with all things ad-tech. The praise heaped onto the coolest data plays or platform plays or mobile plays belie the fact that it's anything but playtime for marketers.
The sheer tonnage of technologies is a serious buzz kill, casting a cloud over the industry. But it doesn't have to be that way with these six techniques to keep your passion for marketing intense and vital:
1. Be gracious.
This business is a pressure-cooker. It's easy to succumb to insensitivity and never get to those promised followup meetings or phone calls with vendors or people who need your help.
Yet specifically because of the challenge, if you can maintain grace under pressure, over time you quickly realize that you have created a community of peers, colleagues and associates who stand ready to help or inspire you. And this community is not just a bunch of fair-weather friends but they create a lifelong circle of support that grows deeper and richer as time goes on.
2. Be a student.
I mean this a bit more literally than you might think. Yes, I mean it in the stay-curious kind of way. But I also mean it in the literal way -- identifying a subject and truly spending time studying it.
The focus of your study is less important than committing to a disciplined deep dive on a subject -- whether it's about content marketing or social or whatever. The goal here is to aspire to be a subject matter expert in one topic that can inspire you to broaden your horizons.
3. Be a teacher.
It doesn't matter if this is your first job or twenty-first; in this ever-changing marketing landscape everyone has something to teach -- from the most junior to the most senior person.
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Happily, if you expect everybody to be a teacher, then the passion of all your teachers will be infectious.
4. Be willing to say "I don't know."
The sheer volume of ad-tech ventures is overwhelming, as any Lumascape infographic conveniently reminds us.
Yet too often, people don't speak up when they don't know about a new tech or capability. Here's a secret -- nothing fans the flame of marketing passion more than learning new things. If you can forthrightly admit you don't know something, you open the doors for discovery. The more you discover, the more tools in your toolkit -- and the more fun you'll have.
5. Be brave.
Marketing does not usually reward risk taking. After all, a bad choice can mean millions or maybe tens of millions in lost revenue. No wonder everyone is gun-shy.
But that doesn't mean you're off the hook in pushing your boundaries to try new things. If you must, learn courage in digital technology by focusing on a personal passion or cause you care about. Start small. Create a Twitter or Pinterest ad campaign so you learn how self-serve ad platforms work. As you gain confidence, you can expand your horizons and perhaps lead a crowdfunding campaign to support a not-for-profit. The lessons learned will be easily transferable to more conventional business applications.
6. Be playful.
The joy of today's technology is that it lets you explore your creativity for free. You can create a video (Animoto), build a mobile app (COMO), develop video tutorials (Screenr) or go to the National Archives and create a poster. There are so many ways to express your passions with tech that, inevitably, your enthusiasm will spill over into your daily work.
It's no secret that any love affair needs to be nurtured and this applies to marketing, too. But if you invest the time, your reward is nothing less than reminding yourself why you fell in love with marketing in the first place.