Many of us in the marketing clan ended up in it by accident, but in an industry that once considered us a no-no, we have chosen to stay, and to succeed.
In my more than 20 years in the AEC industry, I have yet to meet anyone working in marketing that consciously chose to develop a career in this space. Admittedly, it’s somewhat crazy to invest one’s heart and soul in an industry that, in the not so distant past, considered marketing a no-no in the way they conducted their businesses. While networking throughout the years with my colleagues, one thing has become crystal clear: I am not alone. Indeed, we have a cult, a fraternity/sorority of sorts. And guess what? We’re all weirdos!
Premier rock band Radiohead shared a sentiment in their ‘90s staple, “Creep,” eloquently stating, “I’m a weirdo, what the heck am I doing here? I don’t belong here.” These lyrics hit close to home to most of “us” after starting our first jobs in the industry. Think about all your friends in college studying marketing, business, journalism, even English. How many times did you hear them say, “I dream of working at ‘that’ engineering firm?” Let’s face the ugly truth: The majority of our clan members ended up here by accident. What is fascinating is that we stayed put in this collage of stressful deadlines, respect wars, and questionable career paths.
We all face diverse challenges and our strengths and passions vary greatly, but for the ones that have stuck around, we have fallen in love with our endeavors. I roamed away to another industry for a year and did like Forrest Gump. I ran back. Whatever your story, there are features that we can all take away from working in the industry – rubbing shoulders with architects, engineers, scientists, and contractors, and burning the professional services marketing midnight oil.
- Working with smart individuals. A well-known quote says, “If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.” I relate to this passage every single day and find being in constant learning mode exhilarating. Not only is it imperative for us to have thorough knowledge of the market sectors our firms cater to, the services we offer, but we have to understand the solutions we propose to solve our clients’ problems. Learn from the people around you.
- Teamwork. Maybe it is the ex-baseball player in me that feels at ease working in teams, but there’s no denying the magic in mixing the right combination of strengths from different individuals. I usually feel like a coach trying to inspire our team and calling the right plays to score the winning run. It takes nine players, a deep bench, great coaches, and supportive management to go the distance – just ask the Cubs!
- Making a difference. I highly value being part of an organization that’s effecting change in the communities served and the world. It’s a great feeling knowing that you are a piece in a puzzle that will provide potable water to a community, a state-of-the-art school for underprivileged kids, or a clean site for vegetable growers. As JFK said, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” Here, we are trying.
- Being part of a group. Marketers have a unique bond exemplified by the growth of associations that foster this sense of community amongst us weirdos. Attend a marketing conference to see yourself reflected in never-ending mirrors. It is a revelation – you are not alone! Sharing frustrations and finding sympathetic ears is an aura-cleansing sensation, but it goes beyond that. We have and will continue to push our roles to have better places at the table and provide the best value to our firms by raising the bar for ourselves.
- The rush of winning. If you have a healthy pursuit strategy, chances are you are competing for opportunities with great probabilities of being selected. If you win, you’re on top of the world; if you don’t, you still learn from the process. But let’s keep our eye on the ball. We are talking about winning here!
Our “little community that could” is propelling businesses beyond their expectations. We are outside-the-box thinkers because we devote ourselves to understand the box in the first place. We are the curious bunch eager to learn something new every day and work alongside amazing individuals. Go for it my peeps of the Lambda Lambda Weirdos!
Javier Suarez is the central marketing and sales support manager with Geosyntec Consultants. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.