Marketing Arbitrage

Crush Your Competition by Exploiting the Arbitrage in Your Industry

Marketing Arbitrage

Are the businesses in your industry using all marketing options available to them to their full potential?

The answer is no.  And in many industries, the answer is, “not even close”.

If you take the time to study your industry and your competitors, you will find that there are numerous examples of marketing arbitrage ready for you to exploit.

What is Arbitrage?

Arbitrage is a term traditionally used with financial instruments like commodities and stocks.  There are sometimes differences in the price someone is willing to pay for a financial instrument and what people are selling them for. Arbitrage is the exploiting of this middle price area where you simultaneously buy and sell that financial instrument and make a profit off of the price difference between the two.

You use arbitrage all the time.  A simple example is going to a garage sale where you see an antique table selling for $10.  You know it is worth more, so you buy it and then resell that table on Ebay for $50.  You took advantage of the arbitrage in what the table was selling for and what it was actually worth.  In this case you made a cool $40 because you were able to spot the arbitrage where no one else was.

If you are in a service industry like mortgage brokers, real estate agents, cleaning companies, you probably know of several companies offering to sell leads to you for a price.  These companies are already taking advantage of the marketing arbitrage in your industry.  In this case, they know they can get a lead at a certian price and then sell it to you for a much higher price.

So now that you understand what arbitrage is, do you see how this can be applied to marketing?

Marketing Arbitrage

Marketing legend, Jay Abraham, was the one who introduced me to the concept of looking for marketing arbitrage opportunities.

I'm primarily an internet marketer, that is what I sell and where I spend most of my time.  But I also own another business where we spend plenty of time and money on traditional marketing so finding marketing arbitrage opportunities is not just for online marketing.

You can find marketing arbitrage opportunities in many areas, like where businesses are marketing, how they package/position their product or bringing ideas from another industry into yours.

Finding the  Arbitrage in Your Industry

In some industries, marketing arbitrage is easy to spot.  Many traditional industries are still stuck in the stone age,  thinking that a Yellow Pages ad or a roadside billboard places you in on the cutting edge of marketing.

Lawyers, especially older firms, are an example of an industry still living in the past.  I personally know of two lawyers who have been paying for Yellow Pages ads for over 25 years just because that is what they have always done.  Neither of them have a website.  Yes, no website.

Car dealers still spend the vast majority of their advertising budget on billboards and newspaper ads.  They still go with the outdated  motto of, “people are coming through the door and buying cars so it must be working”.  What a waste of money and what an opportunity for the car dealer down the street who is ready to venture into new marketing territory and to think differently from their dinosaur peers.

On the flip side, you have many internet first companies spending 100% of their resources with online marketing, which is why you are seeing some internet companies starting to use more traditional methods of advertising, they are looking for areas of opportunity in their industry that are not being exploited.

While many of the arbitrage opportunities we are speaking about revolve around marketing, you can find opportunities in the actual product/service, technology and how you deliver your product/service.

If you want to spot the opportunities, then you need to study what your industry and competitors are doing to market themselves.  Search online, subscribe to competitor newsletters, buy the local papers and look through the ads.  Buy their products, call their companies, let their sales reps give their pitch to you (or a friend) You need to know what your competitors are doing (or not doing) before you can find the arbitrage and exploit it.

Some questions to ask.

  • Where are they spending their time and marketing dollars?
  • Who are the innovators in my industry and what are they doing differently?
  • Who really impresses you with their marketing?
  • What was the last big change or innovation in your industry?
  • Are the businesses in your industry marketing the same way they did 10 years ago?

What you will usually find is that there are a handful of first movers who are always on the front line of news things, some do it very well and some are still trying to figure it out.  The majority of your competitors though are still stuck in the status quo, going along with everyone else like a school of guppies.

Some industries innovate faster than others, but many are just waiting for someone to come along and turn the industry upside down.  In your case, you don't have to turn your entire industry upside down (unless you want to), just your local market.


Diamond Candles

Candle making is thousands of years old.  It's an industry, for the most part, that has been left unchanged aside from new scents and candle shapes.  Unless you sell bulk, it doesn't really make sense to sell online since anyone can go their neighborhood box or dollar store and buy a candle.

Diamond Candles came in and turned the candle industry on its head.  And they did it with no budget, no prior experience in candle making and no connections in the candle industry.  I believe last year, they had revenues of over 20 million dollars selling candles online and they have only been in business a few years.

So what did they do differently?  

They looked at a complacent industry and looked for ways to bring innovation to it.  They used the classic “combining” creativity technique and brought together two industries.  Candles and jewelry.  Every candle has a ring inside it, with some of them having a diamond ring inside it.  So when you purchase a candle from them, you get the suspense of waiting to see if there is a diamond ring waiting at the end of your candle.  People have gone nuts of this concept and has spawned dozens of copycats and variations on this concept to the candle industry.

If you want to learn more about the creative technique of “Combining” along with dozens of other creativity exercises, read the book, “Thinkertoys”, by Michael Michalko.  It is the best book I have found on creativity.


The Taxi and Limousine Commission has left the taxi industry virtually unchanged in 50 years.  They still use the same radios, pricing system and equipment they have always used, despite numerous opportunities to bring innovation into their industry.

Along comes Uber, who said, “people getting frustrated not being able to hail a cab, yet there are thousands of people driving around in their cars who would love to make some extra money”.

So what did they do differently?

They combined technology and an untapped workforce to democratize the taxi industry, allowing just about anyone to make some extra money whenever they feel like it.  They also made a lot of enemies and pissed a lot of people off along the way, but like it or not, that's how you innovate.

Is your industry underutilizing technology or other resources that you can exploit?  I bet if you do an hour of brainstorming you will find at least one gold nugget on your list of ideas.

Similar to Uber, Airbnb has disrupted the hotel industry and has turned anyone with a rental property or a spare bedroom into a hotelier.

Some Arbitrage Ideas For You

There are hundreds of opportunities waiting for you, but below are some ideas and examples to get you started.

Online Marketing

I have a client who uses Google Adwords for their Pay Per Click marketing.  Problem is that virtually all of their competitors are on Google Adwords, with a single click costing over $20.  But when it comes to Facebook Ads, there is only one other competitor on there, leaving the entire platform wide open for us to dominate it and at a fraction of the cost of Google Adwords.

Look for online marketing opportunities in your industry that your competitors are ignoring or don't really understand.  This could be SEO, paid advertising or email marketing, the point is to look for the gaps and opportunities you can leverage.


Are your competitors only using outbound sales practices like cold calling, door knocking, email marketing?  If they are not using inbound marketing strategies then that is a golden opportunity for you to leverage your expertise to become the thought leader in your industry.  Think of Dr. Sears for pediatrics or Seth Godin for marketing.

On the flip side, if everyone is focusing on creating content and waiting for the leads to come to them, go out and initiate some outbound sales practices and account based marketing for your business.  The key is, if the norm in your industry is to do “X”, then go and try “Y”.

Product/Service Innovation

If you offer a service, look at productizing some of your offerings.  If you have a product or service, think about how you can bring a product or idea from another industry and apply it to yours, just like Diamond Candles did.

Create value propositions that will make your competitors too scared to match.  An unconditional money back guarantee is something most businesses are afraid to offer, but can increase sales by 10x.  The truth is, and why most retailers like Amazon offer them, is that the rate of return is minuscule compared to the increased revenue they get by doing something others are afraid to do.

If you want to listen to how it's done from an expert, click here to listen to Tony Robbins interview Jay Abraham.

If the standard warranty for you industry is 1 year, make yours 5.  You've seen this in the auto industry over the last few years where standard 3-year warranties have become 10-year bumper to bumper warranties.

If people come to your business, then go to their homes.  If your product comes in a certain size, offer more sizes.  Use healthier ingredients in your products or just offer more of it at the same price as your competitors.  Start a generous loyalty program or awesome value adds with every purchase.  The thing is to look at what your competition is not doing, or doing poorly, and leverage it to your advantage.


Make strategic partnerships in your community.  Other businesses, non-profits and local government are all ways to stand out from your competitors.  Most of your competitors probably don't have the time to do this kind of business development, but strategic partnerships can not only grow your business, they can also give you leverage in your community that your competitors can't easily copy.

Find the arbitrage opportunities in your industry

Now that you know what arbitrage is, examples of how other companies used it and some ideas to get you started, where is the arbitrage in your industry and how will you take advantage of it?

Online Lead Generation Strategies For Real Estate Agents

Online Lead Generation Strategies for Real Estate Agents

Generating leads as a real estate agent can be challenging.

Everyone knows a real estate agent or has a cousin or neighbor that is an agent.  Buying and selling real estate is about relationships, that's why referrals and in-person networking tend to be the biggest lead drivers for most agents.

So how do you generate leads online without having built that relationship first?  It's difficult, but it can be done.  More and more people are turning to the internet to find their real estate agents, despite already knowing people that are agents.

Why would they look online? Here are a few reasons.

  • They may know an agent but do not feel comfortable with their expertise, enthusiasm or selling ability
  • They may be moving to a new area and need someone local
  • They may be going through a divorce and need someone who does not have a relationship with their family
  • They have a bigger pool to select the right agent, same reason people use online dating sites
  • They love the internet and do everything online. Yes, this is a reason

As you can see, there are numerous reasons someone might turn to the internet to find a real estate agent.  The only question is, are you positioned to get in front of these people?  What does your web presence look like?

Most real estate agents have a terrible web presence.  They hire from the same pool of web designers and marketing companies that are “real estate marketing experts” and end up getting the same crappy website as every other agent.

Real estate is about relationships, yet most real estate websites (and the web companies that sell them) focus almost exclusively on the real estate itself and self-aggrandizing promotional copy.  Nobody cares how many awards you have won or that you drive a Mercedes because you're so successful, they want to know if they can trust you and that you're not an asshole.

If you're serious about formulating a serious web strategy to drive leads for your real estate business, the strategies below will get you on your way.  The real estate category, in general, is super saturated online. Don't publish cookie cutter, “5 Tips To Sell Your Home”, nonsense and expect to outrank monster websites like Zillow or Trulia.  As an agent with little resources, you need to think smarter, not bigger.


Make Your Website Not About You

Have you ever been to a party and met someone who talks endlessly about themselves?  What did you think of them?  Exactly!  Take the spotlight off yourself and turn it to your customers.   Nobody wants to listen to you talk about how great you are, not in person or on your website.  They want to know if they can trust you and if you would be a good fit for them.

Most real estate agent websites place a major focus on searching for listings or using real estate calculators, guess what?  Nobody will use your website to search for listings when they can use Zillow, Redfin or Trulia, who have spent millions developing the perfect MLS search engine.  Place the focus on the value you give your customers.


So how do you show them this value?


Customer testimonials.  Sprinkle them around your website.  Have some on every important page of your website and on the sidebar of your blog.  Don't house them all on a “Testimonials” page, most people don't won't visit that page, let alone read through them all.  Make them short and sweet and focused on common objections people have may when hiring a real estate agent.

Case studies.  Almost never used by real estate agents but super effective.  A good case study will paint a picture of the value you give to your customers.  A good case study will present the challenges the home buyer/seller was having, the solution they were looking for, and how you provided the solution that resulted in a very successful real estate transaction.  Case studies are perfect for not only your website, but for in-person presentations.

Your blog.  Showcase some of the properties you have sold in the past.  When I mean showcase, I don't mean brag about how great you are, I mean talk about the property, your customers and the relationship you had with them.  Talk about some of the things you did to help sell the property, some of the challenges you had and how you overcame them.  Why would you do this?  Because it shows real estate is more than a transaction for you, it's something you are invested in and care about.  Your customers are heavily invested in the transaction, show them that you will be too.  Make yourself human.

So to recap, make the focus of your website about the relationships you have with your customers.  Paint a picture for people of what it will look like to work with you.  Use your customer's own words to show the value you bring to every real estate transaction.  Getting people's guard down and getting them to like and trust you is how you turn casual web visitors into leads for your business.


Make Your Content Local

It's a waste of time to write generic real estate content.  There are too many big players online (real estate portals, the media, major blogs, brokerages, etc)  and your chances of outranking or outspending them are about nill.

Your best content strategy is to go local.  Even hyper-local.  Local may mean an entire city, hyper-local may mean a neighborhood in that city.  There are thousands of real estate agents in your city and most of them are trying to cover too big an area.  The pizza shop down the street isn't trying to market to people on the other side of the city because they know there are a hundred pizza shops in between.

Instead of generic real estate tips, talk about real estate specific to your area.  And just talk about your area in general, not just about real estate.  Make your website a portal for your local area.  And so many people are spending time on your website, they can learn more about you and your services.  Coming to your website in this manner (you as a resource) will increase your chances of them contacting you over some generic postcard you mail out.


How do you do this?


Talk local real estate.  What are the best neighborhoods for kids in your area?  In what areas can you still buy an affordable detached home?  What sub-divisions have the best amenities?  These are all things people looking to buy/sell in that area are interested in, and these are things the big players won't be able to offer people.  Going niche like this is how small e-commerce sites can compete (and beat) in the e-commerce world.Update people on local events.

Update people on local events.  Write about local events like festivals, parades, etc in your area.  If there are zoning changes, new development projects and other important matters people might want to know about, write about those too.  I have a real estate client that consistently ranks at the top of the search engines for all of these topics in her area because she covers them in more depth than the original news sources do.

Highlight Local People In Your Community.  Interview local businesses and public figures for your blog.   People and businesses love being interviewed….who doesn't love free publicity?  Showcase local businesses in your community and interview public figures.  Not only will you get on their radar, they will most likely help spread the word on what a great resource your website is for the community.

And the side benefit for all of this?  It is much easier to rank for these topics organically in the search engines than it is for generic real estate topics.  There is nothing better than generating leads using free organic traffic that you don't have to pay for over and over again.  Become the local online hub for your community by creating and sharing great localized content.


Use Advertising Strategically

Online advertising is not like traditional advertising, where you mail out 15K postcards and hope for the best.  The best being maybe 1-2 general inquiries for the 2K you just spent.

With online advertising, you have the ability to reach the right audience at the right time and with hopefully the right message.  All at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising.  There are a lot of great advertising opportunities online for real estate agents right now that you should consider.


How do you do this?


Facebook Advertising.  The targeting options are amazing with Facebook Ads.  From promoting new listings and open houses to advertising specific services you offer, there are lots of great opportunities to promote yourself with a small budget.  You can even advertise on Instagram now using the Facebook Ad Manager, even without an Instagram account.  I recently wrote an article on Facebook targeting, you can read it here.

Remarketing.  Remarketing is when you have the ability to advertise to someone after they leave your website.  Google Adwords and Facebook Ads are the two big players when it comes to Remarketing.  It's great for people doing comparison shopping as well as a longer sales cycle, like hiring a real estate agent.  If someone visits your site and then leaves, why not advertise to them again and offer some case studies they can read or maybe a “Best Of…” guide for your community?  If you can engage them and get them back to your site again, you have greatly increased your chance of generating a new lead.

Local Sponsorships.  Remember “Chico's Bail Bonds”?  I saw the original Bad News Bears over 30 years ago and I still remember their sponsor.  While you may not be as rememberable as a sponsor, people will be using your name over and over again as they talk about the local team you sponsor.  It also gives you a great reason to show up to the games and get to know the parents.  Show up with ice cream for the kids and become the local hometown hero.  The side benefit is that most teams ( and events) will have their own websites where you will also be advertising.

Chicos Bail Bonds

The Bad News Bears

Real Estate Portals.  Most real estate portals have their own advertising/lead gen programs for real estate agents.  While they do work for some people, they can get pretty expensive fast and you become a bit of a commodity as the relationship is between the customer and the real estate portal, not you.  If you do have the budget, it could be worth checking out, as long as you are doing everything else we talked about here.  Zillow Premier Agent is one of the big ones to look at.


Make your website local and not about you

As you can see, your website is the hub of your online world and a crappy one will make any lead generation strategies you put in place fail miserably.  Use your past customers to sing your praises and to showcase the value you bring to a relationship.  Become the expert in your community and deliver the most value you can.  As you can see, the online lead generation is a lot like offline lead generation, it's about building relationships and trust between you and your potential customers.

Local SEO in Easy Steps

The Business Owners Guide To Local SEO


According to a recent study by BIA/Kelsey, nearly all consumers (97 percent) now go online when researching products or services in their local area.

The question is if they search for what you sell, will they find you?

You can't be in the running if you aren't in the race.  And the local SEO market is a pretty big race.

With the advent of Google My Business (formerly Google Places) and the introduction of the local SERPS (Search Engine Results Page), Google has made a move to local in a big way.  Why did they do this?  Because they realized that most searches conducted online have a local intent, meaning people are looking for something close to their geographic area.  It makes sense, if you're searching for “Pizza” and you live in Charlotte, what good would a pizza joint in Denver do for you?


So how does local SEO benefit local business owners?

In a big way.  In the past, you were competing with a very large pool of competitors, whether they were located down the street, or across the country from you.  Now, if a search occurs that has local intent such as “Cupcakes in Charlotte”, or “Cupcake shops near me”, Google will not only try and localize the results for the searcher, they will display a listing of Google My Business pages along with an area map. Not only that but with location technology, especially on mobile, even if you search for “Cupcake Shops”, Google will assume you mean cupcake shops near you and will return local search results for your area.

Your free Google Plus Business page has effectively leapfrogged ahead of dozens of businesses, some of which have spent quite a bit of time and money trying to climb the search engine rankings.

This levels the playing field with you, the small business with a small budget, versus big business, with very deep pockets and resources.  Is your business taking advantage of this?

If you're ready to put in some time and effort to improve your search rankings in your local market, below are some of the most important things to get you started in the right direction.  While this isn't a complete list, if you do these things, and do them well, you should be able to see some marked improvement in your rankings.

While this isn't a complete list, if you do these things, and do them well, you should be able to see some marked improvement in your rankings.


Optimize Your Website

Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP)

There are some simple things you can do to your website that can have a big impact in how the search engines view your site.  If you're a local business, you want to make it clear that you're a local business.  You do this by including your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) prominently on your website.  This is not only beneficial to your visitors, it helps the search engines determine your geographic location and the local market your serve.  In addition to placing your NAP on your contact page, consider placing it in the footer area of your website so it appears on all of your pages.

Website Title

What's the title of your website?  You can see the title of a site quickly by looking at the browser tab on which the website is opened.  Most of the time, people will use the name of their business.  While this is ok, what's really effective is when you name the title of your website to what you actually sell, or what service you provide.  Adding your city or town name in the title is also very effective in “localizing” your website.

If you're a gluten-free bake shop in Charlotte, instead of making the title of your website, “Annie's Bake Shop Inc”, consider naming it, “Gluten Free bakery in Charlotte”.  You can add your business name at the end if you like, “Gluten Free Cupcakes Atlanta | Your Business Name”

Homepage Title Tag Example Local SEO

Create Localized Content

Create content on your website that is localized to your area.  It will send clear signals to the search engines that your site is about a particular area and it will also be more relevant to your readers.  For example, if you were a real estate agent, instead of blogging about generic real estate tips, talk about:

  • The best neighborhoods in your area for families, singles, retired people, etc
  • New construction projects in your area
  • Interview local businesses and government officials for your blog

Create a theme on your site around what your business does and what area it serves.  Become a local resource for your industry, people will respond better when the content is personalized to their specific area.


Google My Business and Bing Places Pages

Creating your local business pages on Google My Business and Bing Places will give you an additional web property other than your website to rank in the local search engine results.  For local results, the local listing (also knows as the map listing) sits above the organic search listings.

Why not have one horse in the race when you can have two?  Better yet, as you can see in the example below of one of my clients, they are listed 3 times in the search results (Google Adwords is the one at the top) in the search results for almost every search term important to their business.

Make sure these listings are filled out 100% completely with accurate information and that your business category is correct.

Local SEO Listing Example

Customer Reviews

Customer reviews play a big role in local SEO, both from a search engine standpoint and from a customer standpoint.  Almost everyone checks out reviews before buying a product or service these days.

Google has it's own review system that is shown in the local search results.  You will see the 5-star rating system under a business (the 5-star system does not become active until you have at least 5 reviews) and Google also pulls in reviews from third party sites.  The 3rd party review sites that Google uses depends on your location and industry.

Examples of Local SEO Google 5 Star Rating System

Here is a good article explaining how to find good review sites for your business.



Citations are mentions of your business across the web.  These mentions may or may not be active links back to your website.  The reason Google makes citations a factor in local search is that they realize that Joe's Pizza may be the best pizza in the city, but Joe is not very good at SEO or link building.  So they include citations, or mentions, of Joe's Pizza as a ranking factor.

Citations are broken down into two categories, structured and unstructured citations.

Structured Citations

These are citations where the information or organized in a set format.  Your business listing on Yelp or the Yellow Pages is an example of a structured citation.  Great sources of structured citations are online directories that service your city or industry as well as review sites like Yelp, Angie's List, and Foursquare.

Unstructured Citations

These are mentions of your business in an unorganized format.  Think of a local newspaper or blog mentioning your business in an article or on social media where people are talking about your business.  Getting interviewed by the local media, getting a lot of social media attention, and guest posting on other blogs are all great sources of unstructured citations.

When you are getting citations for you business, it is very important to keep your Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) consistent across the web.  The NAP you have on your website should be the same anytime you create a new citation.  If you website has your as “Joes Pizza”, don't start creating citations that refer to you as “Joes Famous Pizza”, “Joes Pizzeria”, “Joes Pizza LLC”, all of these variations causes confusion with the search engines (and people trying o find you) and can lead to you missing out on the credit for those citations.


Links To Your Website

In traditional SEO, links play a huge part in how your rank in the search engine results (SERPS).  While not as critical in local SEO, they still play a role.

Many links will come naturally as you get citations for your business, but there are other great local sources for you to find links for your website.  Many local associations and businesses will gladly add you to their site if you help them as well.

  • Sponsor a local sports team or youth league
  • Join the Chamber of Commerce or other local civic associations
  • Sponsor a contest for a local blogger
  • Other local businesses
  • Host a contest and let the media/bloggers know about it
  • Trade associations and suppliers

As you can see, even if you know nothing about link building, if you get yourself out there it's not that hard to get some links back to your website.


It's Not Rocket Science

As you can see, doing local SEO isn't a big mystery.  Yes, it's tedious and you need to be organized and methodical in how you approach it, but it's within the reach of every business owner.  So go out there and start getting some local rankings and watch what some good local SEO can do for your business.

How To Get Entry Level Marketing Job

How To Get an Entry Level Marketing Job


Are you looking for an entry level marketing job?

Maybe you're close to finishing university and starting to look at the current job market or you're switching careers and want to get into marketing.  In either case, you probably know by now that the competition for marketing jobs is fierce.

And when I mean marketing jobs, I don't mean marketing jobs where you sit in a call center all day annoying people or selling door to door for some MLM scheme.  I mean a real marketing job with a real marketing agency doing real marketing.

I've hired my share of marketing newbies over the past 9 years and have also hosted  several marketing internships. I've also hired for many marketing positions on behalf of my clients.  What I have learned is that most universities (at least the ones I have hired from) do a poor job in preparing marketing majors for the real world.  Sure, they may learn all about brand positioning, AIDA, the P's and C's of marketing, market research, etc, but they rarely teach the skills that marketing agencies are really looking for.

Too Fast For School

I work primarily in the digital marketing space and I think it moves too fast for university curriculums to keep up to date with, which is why they mostly teach broad, timeless marketing principles. Many that are woefully outdated.   While this may serve as a good foundation for individuals just getting started in marketing, it still leaves marketing agencies with the heavy task of training new hires in pretty much everything.

Have you ever done a marketing internship?  If you're like most students, you were either the office gopher (more coffee please?) or you were stuck doing the grunt work nobody else in the office wanted to do.  Why?  Because you did not have the skills that they were looking for and they did not have the time or energy to train you or hold your hand all summer so instead they matched you for what you were qualified for, not much.

Am I being harsh?  A little bit, but there is a lot of truth in what I am saying because I hear it from marketing students all the time.

So what do you do?

The first thing you do is to realize that a marketing degree gets you a ticket to the game, but it does not get you a ticket to a marketing job, or even a marketing internship position.  It's nice that you graduated with a marketing degree, you and 50 thousand other people this year.

The second thing you need to realize is that what will get you your first entry-level marketing job is not what you have done in school, but what you have done outside of school while you were in school.  That's a mouthful.

When I look at a marketing resume, the only things that jump out at me are the marketing accomplishments outside of school.  

Things I Look For

Your Own Blog

Do you have a blog?  No?  Why not? Having your own blog shows that you not only love marketing, but also love to write about it.  It's your chance to show people and future employers your ideas about marketing, how you think and to show off how much you know.  Marketing today revolves a lot around content, showing future employers that you know how to write gives you a leg up on your competition.

Social Media Presence

On a personal level, I'm not that active on social media, though I do have a decent Twitter following.  This only happened once, but I had a marketing student interview for an internship and when I checked her Twitter profile, she had a following twice the size of mine.  Color me impressed!  Not only do I know that she understood social media, she was really good at it.  Moral of the story?  Actions speak much louder than words.

Certifications and Skills Earned Outside of School

Most people don't realize this, but you don't have to go to university in order to learn.  Want to walk into a marketing interview with accomplishments that 99.99% of your peers will not have?  Show up to an agency interview as a Google Certified Adwords Individual (you will have to get an agency to sponsor you or sign up as an agency)  or a graduate of Hubspot Inbound Marketing University or Hootsuite's Podium.  What do all of these have in common?  They are freely available to anyone who wants to take them.  You can also sign up for courses on Udemy or similar platforms and start educating yourself on that is important in marketing today.

Dilbert Marketing Quote

Skills Most Agencies/Companies Look For In New Marketing Hires

Content Marketing

Content plays such a big role in marketing today.  From SEO to branding, inbound marketing is how many companies are spending their marketing resources and creating great content is the cornerstone of a great inbound marketing strategy.

You should have an understanding of copywriting, how to edit and format content for the web and how to use Content Management System,  like WordPress.  Having your own active blog will demonstrate all of these proficiencies for you to a prospective employer.

Conversion Optimization

Conversion Optimization gets its roots from direct mail, where you are creating an environment for people to take action.  It's setting up your website, landing page, advertisements, and emails so they move prospective customers through the path you want to take them, which will eventually lead to a sale or similar conversion goal.

They really don't teach this in school. but if you have a firm grasp on how conversion optimization works, you will be ahead of pretty much all of your peers, even many of the people you would be working with.  This is something you can learn on your own and practice on your own.  You can learn about Conversion Optimization here, here and here.

Search Engine Optimization

This is the holy grail of skills in marketing.  Many people claim to be good at SEO but most people don't really understand what it is, let alone have the skills/knowledge to be good at it.  The reason is that good SEO involves a wide skill set and involves have a grasp of technical/coding knowledge, content creation, and the hardest one of all, link building (or link earning, as many new age SEO's like to say).

Now, as an entry level marketer, you would not be expected to know all of this, but you can look like an all-star in your interview when you can demonstrate functional proficiency in SEO.  You can learn the basics of SEO here.

Social Media

Most companies (even agencies) are still trying to figure out how to make social media work for them.  Having a firm grasp on how social media works, and being able to prove it with your own social media profiles, will go a long way in demonstrating you can “walk the walk”.

It's a big letdown when I read a resume saying they can have experience in social media and then check their social profiles to see that their online presence is lame at best.  The funnier thing is, you'll see marketing agencies specializing in social media with pathetic online presences…..go figure.

If you are going to walk into an interview saying you get social media, be prepared to show them proof through your own social media accounts.

Pay Per Click and Social Media Advertising

Google Adwords and Facebook Ads are the two Kings of pay per click marketing, with the two of them giving you advertising options for a good chunk of the internet.   Pay Per Click advertising is when you show an advertisement and only pay when someone clicks on your ad.

The thing is that getting start with pay per click advertising is not very hard, but it is very hard to be good at it.  When it comes to online advertising, you need to be both a creative person and a data geek at the same time.  You have your creative side where you research and create the ads and the data side where you have to figure out what is working and how to make the ads perform better.

This is a skill I don't think even gets touched on in University.  Like SEO, it changes so fast that it is difficult to create curriculums around it as they are usually outdated by the time you graduate.  The good news is that there are lots of great resources online to learn about pay per click advertising, you read about it here and here.


So much of marketing today is data-driven, even branding is getting more and more data-driven as companies want to understand what is working and what is not with their marketing dollars.  The most popular web analytics platform used today is Google Analytics.  Looking through Google Analytics is like peeling a never ending onion, there are always additional layers of data underneath the data you are currently looking at.

Google Adwords and other ad platforms also have a plethora of data and you will need to be able to read through the data and derive meaning from it.

The real skill with analytics is being able to look at the data, pull the few points that are important to you and your business, and be able to derive meaning from it.  Analytics is useless without action, so someone good at understanding analytics can pull actionable insights out of the data.  You can learn more about the basics of Google Analytics here.


So, I need to learn all of this?

No, you don't.  Even seasoned marketing professionals aren't experts in all of the above, but they do have a solid understanding of them.

Most likely you will be applying for a specific position that will only require 1-3 of the above skill sets as many of them overlap.  But also, be prepared to be thrown into other areas of marketing not outlined in the job description, as many companies will try and use your skill sets across different marketing channels.

The more skills you have in your toolbelt, the more valuable you will become in the eyes of a marketing agency or company looking to hire an entry level marketer.  You don't have to wait for school to teach you marketing, it is all around you if you look.