Travis Campbell, the “Marketing Professor,” wields impressive credits as a marketing guru who concentrates on small businesses and Web-based entrepreneurs. Few professionals can demonstrate such wisdom about the profession or such a comprehensive use of social media; he maintains popular profiles on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, among other hip networks. Our interview with him shows that bachelor’s degrees don’t have to dictate careers, the importance of creativity, and how to master the fundamentals.
Can you recall the moment when you decided to formally embark upon marketing as a career?
Yes! When there was a collection of comments from then CRM consulting clients that came into my marketing funnel, saying that I should do something with online marketing to help businesses. I began to rethink my career, and how I could build a website that could help as many people as possible.
For our students’ benefit, could you outline a typical day-in-the-life of a top marketing professional?
Every day is a new opportunity and challenge. Discipline, structure, humility is my mantra of choice. There are many distractions out there. The one who stays focused the longest is often the winner.
What are your favorite, and least favorite, aspects of your job?
I enjoy helping people make a good decision. That is what the content on the site is designed to help people with. I enjoy marketing technology and putting together product reviews best. I don’t like accounting or fussing with code on a website, so I have someone to help with those things.
Your career has witnessed marketing change substantially, from the Internet’s burgeoning period in the mid-1990s to the social network mushrooming of the 2010s (Facebook, Google+, StumbleUpon, oh my!) What about your education has helped you navigate such huge changes in the field of marketing?
I feel very fortunate. I have friends and strangers in the online marketing community who send me their latest courses or software’s to test and review. I also use this leverage to get access to products and services that subscribers are most interested in. When possible, I test the products myself, and in some cases perform longer-term case studies.
Your CV on Google+ shows that you earned your bachelor’s in German before embarking on a social media career from the “School of Hard Knocks.” How has this idiosyncratic path led you to such professional success in modern-day marketing?
Marketing must tap creativity to be successful. Learning a foreign language is more than just phonetics, sentence structure, and special characters, it also requires you to listen and properly interpret what messages are coming to you so you can offer a relevant response. Hone this skill, and you’ll be in a great place as a marketer. As marketers were are also interpreters, we are interpreting what the market is communicating to us and endeavoring to respond in an anticipatory and relevant way. Sometimes we get it right, sometimes we don’t; in every case, we should be learning.
Needless to say, your web presence is unmistakably effective. How has social media impacted your career?
I’m not a super social person. Some people are just wired that way and find social media a great medium to extend their personalities. However, I have found social media incredibly valuable. Regarding business, it has sent a lot of traffic and provides a way to find like-minded individuals. It also serves as a very strategic tool to invite people to join the site and experience our “subscriber only” email content.
What are some common misconceptions about careers in marketing?
GRQ. Many sell Get Rich Quick, but the reality is, it must be something that has longevity. The search engines are getting better and better at interpreting user interactions with content to determine if it is valuable content for searchers. Delivering value is hard work, but essential to have a solid online business.
As the “Marketing Professor,” do you think that modern-day marketing is a subject best studied online, or is a traditional classroom environment actually useful?
Traditional classroom marketing training gets a bad rap as being out of touch with the speed of online business dynamics. Certainly there is truth to that, but one does well to understand the fundamentals and build from there with real-world experience. If you think you are going to get a marketing degree and then make a zillion dollars online within two years of graduation, you might consider resetting your expectations. The marketplace rewards applied experience. Real-world experience always trumps academia.
What advice, or words of caution, would you give to a student who is considering a career in modern-day marketing?
Hold your career lightly, don’t take it too seriously, and hold firm to flexibility as you consider your future. “Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.” Marketing will never change (problem->solution->message->market->profit), however, the modalities will. Today it’s Twitter, Facebook, and maybe even a bit of Google plus; tomorrow it’s something else altogether. Embrace life-long learning, get the fundamentals now, affirm them with experience, and attain greatness in marketing by harnessing the tools to support your strategy and become world class.