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July 9, 2013
My Love/Hate Relationship with Marketing
I have been in the marketing industry for 16+ years now and the original reasons I got into this business are the same reasons that keep me fascinated to this day. Marketing/advertising is an exciting business — especially today, with the way things are rapidly changing and progressing. But let’s be honest. This business can also be very stressful and difficult — especially today, with the way things are rapidly changing and progressing.

There are four main reasons why I love my work. Yet, these same reasons also happen to be why my work can also be tough:
1. CREATIVITY. I am blessed to be surrounded by amazingly talented and imaginative people. Not only “creative” people like art directors and copywriters, but also strategists, media planners, technical experts, and clients.
Why I Love It: The drive and discipline that people in this industry have to repeatedly come up with unique, relevant and strategic ideas is, frankly, unbelievable and awe-inspiring. Watching these ideas take shape is one of my favorite parts of my job.
Why I Hate It: This same creative development process is also extremely stressful for me because it is often unpredictable, nebulous, and ambiguous — three things I don’t cope with easily.
2. ENDLESS OPPORTUNITY. Branding and marketing offer companies almost infinite possibilities to connect and engage with prospects and customers. From what you name your brand to what your logo looks like. From how you design your package to where you sell your product. From television advertising to Vine videos. From your customer service hotline to your crisis communication plan. From your website navigational menu to your store layout. And so on.
Why I Love It: Deciding which marketing vehicles are appropriate for your target/brand and carefully crafting an appropriate message for each touchpoint are critically important. As my job is to architect seamless and integrated marketing programs, I enjoy putting together the pieces of a communications plan. Seeing a plan come to life in the marketplace successfully is exhilarating and fulfilling.
Why I Hate It: Since tactical options and marketing channels are practically endless, it can be quite frustrating to have to limit your thinking due to budget and/or timing restrictions. Also, poring over the details to ensure integration to create a seamless customer experience can be an exhausting process. 
3. ART VERSUS SCIENCE. I’m sure you’ve read about and/or discussed this topic innumerable times in the marketing context: “Should decisions be made based on scientific reasons (research) or artistic interpretations (art, design and copy)?”
Why I Love It: The blend of business and creativity is what drew me toward marketing in the first place. I loved the idea of working in a world where my rational and logical thinking was needed, but I could also interact daily with artistic people.
Why I Hate It: Business-minded people and creative types tend to have different ways of looking at the world and different methods of communication. When we’re arguing from “opposite ends of the table,” it can be difficult to come to resolutions quickly and easily, which can make for tense moments around the office.
4. NO DUPLICATION. As I see it, cookie-cutter marketing solutions don’t offer brands long-term success. Even if you’re marketing two very similar “products” (McDonald’s and Wendy’s, or Coca-Cola and Pepsi, or Dow and DuPont), you cannot duplicate or imitate the competitor’s strategy and prosper. Thriving brands are those with strategies that are distinct and tailored to fit their narrow target audience and core identity.
Why I Like It: Since each client campaign requires a unique strategy and execution, it’s imperative that I am aware of current (and upcoming) marketing trends, tactics and techniques. This necessity motivates me to constantly learn new things and strive to always be at the top of my game.
Why I Hate It: At the same time, my job would sure be a lot easier if I could just repurpose a solution for Client B that worked perfectly well for Client A.
I know that my career choice is just that: a choice. And I realize that it doesn’t involve rescuing people from burning buildings or finding a cure for cancer. But at those times when I want to escape from the office and head to Zihuatanejo, I simply remind myself that I get to work with remarkable people and that I have a distinct strategic marketing skill that does make the world a little bit better. 

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Emily K. Howarda marketing strategist since 1997, developed her skills at some of the country’s top marketing firms including DDB Worldwide, while working on brands like American Airlines, Pepsi, Bloomberg and Merck. Now as Vice President of Esparza, Emily’s integrated communications approach helps clients find order in marketing chaos. She’d love to hear from you and can be found on LinkedIn or @ekhoward on Twitter.
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