How’d You Get Here: Marketing

Blair Cowan

In addition to working on several Elastic clients, Blair also handles all of Elastic’s own content. When she’s not hanging out with her dog Holtzmann, she can be found with a glass of wine, either cooking or reading a good book.

What do you do at Elastic?

I work on digital marketing & social media campaigns for some of our clients, plus handle all of Elastic’s own social media & blog content.

Do you work in the field you went to school for?

Not even close! My undergrad degree is in French and History of Art, and that Master’s I mentioned earlier? Also History of Art with a specialisation in Scottish Art & Culture.

What’s the strangest job you had before you got into marketing?

Leading spelunking trips for primary schoolchildren in the middle of nowhere in Kentucky.

How did you get into marketing?

I finished uni a month after the recession hit the US, and finding a job was not an easy task for a young grad with a liberal arts background. I made friends who were established in advertising, and I realised that my experience in music promotion would be a useful skillset for a marketer. I found the opening for my first job through my university’s alumni network (best. invention. ever.) and when I interviewed, I came prepared to discuss the transferable skills I already had.

Getting the message out. Find out more about our social media marketing expertise.

What were the biggest challenges when you started your career?

Learning the basics. I didn’t know much about how websites worked when I got my first job, and everything in the advertising world is an acronym (CPM! MPU! DMP! DSP! RFP!), so I had a lot to learn.

A brand-new media planner is also the person put in charge of implementing often-massive budgets. The first campaign I worked on had a budget of $1,000,000- and I was the only one in charge of making sure that money was spent correctly! This isn’t unusual- more than many other professions, marketing puts some of the highest pressure on its most junior employees.

What I didn’t realise at the time, though, was the fact that marketing knowledge is shaped like a pyramid: the base of knowledge you need to succeed is huge, but once you’ve mastered that, the rest is easy- and it comes naturally with experience!

What’s your favourite thing about your current position?

I get to be creative every day! I spend the majority of my time coming up with new ideas to promote our clients or creatively solve problems. When spreadsheets get boring I can always log onto Twitter or Facebook to post up some industry thoughts, or spend an hour researching a fun blog post.

What’s your least favourite thing about working in marketing?

Crisis management. There’s nothing like being pulled into a job after it’s all gone downhill to try to untangle the mess of a campaign gone wrong, but I still find satisfaction in finding solutions… plus, the knowledge I’ve gained from troubleshooting those things has been really useful!

What makes a good digital marketer?

The ability to plan ahead and foresee difficulties early in the process is a crucial part of working in marketing. Thinking five steps ahead and planning for as many contingencies as possible is one of the most important skills I’ve learned throughout my career.

What’s an unexpected skill that has helped you in your career?

I studied French and History of Art at uni, both of which seem, at first glance, wholly unrelated to marketing. However, learning a foreign language has really helped me understand how to write better in my own language, and studying the history of visual culture and how it communicates its message has shaped the way I view the power of marketing as a tool.

What tips do you have for someone trying to get into marketing?

Don’t worry about what you studied at uni- being able to write well, think through problems and communicate clearly conveys much more to prospective employers than a degree in marketing, PR or comms.

Be creative and fun (but professional!) in your cover letters and your CV. Most positions in marketing- especially agency-side- are fairly creative and prospective employers will want to see your personality shine through in your interview.

What’s something you would tell someone on their first day as a digital marketer?

Everything is fixable. A boss told me that several years into my career, but I wish I had internalised it earlier- I would have had a lot more fun in my first years if someone had told me to stress a little less!

As always, if you’re looking for content creation, management, or digital marketing, contact Elastic today!

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