by John Eberhard
I have been reading a couple of books lately that say that to create what they call “remarkable content,” you have to tell a story. So at the risk of boring everyone to tears I am going to tell the story of how I got involved in marketing and what it hopefully has taught me.
I didn’t sit in my room when I was a kid, dreaming of becoming a marketing consultant. I know that will shock everyone. I was into the arts as a kid. I drew, I painted, I did photography, I built things (I built my own toys), and I played music. After I saw Buddy Rich play when I was about 12, I decided I wanted to be a drummer, and to become rich and famous. I excelled at music in high school and ended up going to Berklee College of Music in Boston for two years and excelled there too.
After college I stayed in Boston and started playing music, but I also decided to work during the day for my church doing public relations. I started writing press releases, going out and doing “press runs” to the media, holding events, holding press conferences, appearing as a guest on TV and radio shows, and even hosting my own talk show on a cable TV station in Worcester, MA.
I really dug the fact of being able to communicate to thousands of people at one time. That was a kick.
Then I met my future wife, played music full time for a few years, and moved to Los Angeles. Unfortunately the music thing did not work out well for me in LA. But somehow I fell into marketing. I still remembered that thing about how I liked communicating to thousands of people, but I had not really liked the media people, who by and large are kind of slimey (i.e. you can’t trust them as far as you can throw them).
I saw an ad in the paper for a Marketing Director. I thought about it and decided “yeah, I could do that.” I worked as a marketing director for a year at a market research company and then moved to a medium-sized software company. I was the market research manager there and then was promoted to be in charge of marketing for North America. This was real on-the-job-training stuff, and I did a large course in marketing at the company’s training facility.
I soon learned that what I loved about marketing was twofold: a) I loved the fact that I could communicate to thousands of people, send out something to them and get them to respond (without dealing with the skeevy media people), and b) there are a lot of creative elements in marketing. There is copywriting, which is fun and creative, and design is of course very creative. And it was fun coming up with a campaign and planning it out and causing a big effect, i.e. lots of leads coming in and sales being made.
So I continued doing that for a number of years, working for a number of companies as Marketing Director or VP Marketing. I learned early on that you have to be aggressive in marketing and willing to communicate on a grand scale. And sometimes you have to fight for money to keep the promo going out, because some people will want to cut the funds for it when things get tight. And that is exactly when you should not cut the funds.
After working at those companies and being on the finance and management committees, I figured I’d learned enough about business to start my own. I started my own marketing consulting company part time while still working full time as an employee.
Then three years ago this month, I got laid off from my full time job. In some of the months prior to that, I had made almost as much money from the part time business as I had from my full time job. My wife and I looked at it, and decided to take the plunge. The company that I had been working for full time hired us out of the gate to do some of their marketing, and Real Web Marketing Inc. was born.
There have been ups and downs, and challenging periods when the economy seemed to be kicking our butts. But I remembered the lessons I had learned many years ago, that you have to keep promoting, and be aggressive, and not be afraid to communicate on a grand scale. As a result we have started to really expand our operations lately. And since I really enjoy it, especially the creative aspects, it’s been fun. And especially that being your own boss thing.