Marketing Career: Can you explain your job to a six-year-old?


“What’s your job, daddy?” When asked that question, do you have an answer? Essentially, what’s the elevator pitch for your job? And, as Denzel Washington says in “Philadelphia,” “Explain this to me like I’m a six-year-old.”

A laser-like, compelling answer to the essential question of “What do you do?” has never been more important. I’m not going to quote grim statistics about the current economic situation, but I think we can all see the value in being able to clearly articulate why you should stay on (or be added to) the payroll.

The testing-optimization cycle offers strong, numerical proof of your value to an organization. After all, you’re essentially gaining metrics showing how you’ve improved your company. But sometimes numbers aren’t enough.

And in marketing, it can be difficult to clearly articulate what we do. This was brought into stark contrast for me when I spoke at my daughter’s kindergarten class on career day (the very definition of a tough crowd). It didn’t bother me when the kids were clearly more impressed with the Navy aviator (as “Danger Zone” played through my head), but when they were more impressed with (or at least better understood) the podiatrist, well…that hurt worse than plantar fasciitis.

Marketer, sell thyself

One of the most important products we will ever have to sell in our careers is ourselves. Yet, it is also the most daunting. So here’s my idea for you today…if you can sell a six-year-old, you can sell a CEO. To help prove your value to your current or future company, I suggest you:

  • Determine how you help that organization achieve its goals (your goals are meaningless) – for a business, that’s probably a bottom-line number. For a nonprofit, making the world a better place? The point is, goals you set for yourself (increase word-of-mouth) are meaningless, you must show how they fit into goals that really matter to the organization (increase word-of-mouth to drive an incremental 10% growth in subscription revenue).
  • Back it up with hard evidence – That hard evidence is likely a number. If you’re involved in the testing-optimization cycle, this task will likely be easier. If not, hopefully you’re measuring your performance in some other quantitative matter. Either way, metrics matter. And presented correctly, they can be very compelling. And now for that “and presented correctly” part…
  • Don’t waste their time – Look, I’m a little sensitive to this last part because I’m currently hiring for a few openings (if you know good people, point them to our careers page). If you’re trying to get a job that involves marketing, show the hiring manager how well you market yourself. If you have a job, you need to do a little internal selling. I know a manager who would receive 30-page reports, and say, “I don’t need 30 pages. I don’t have time for 30 pages. Give me one page that tells me everything I need to know.”

To that end, I present you this challenge – write a children’s book that describes your job. Read it to a six-year-old you know. Gauge their reaction. Repeat. Refine.

It seems like a crazy exercise, but children will freely share unfiltered opinions, have zero patience, and you must grab their attention with something shiny or you will lose them for good. Sound like any business leaders you know? (hint, hint, shiny = profit)

In addition, sharing the value of the career you’ve chosen to invest your life energy in just flat out makes you a good dad/mom/uncle/aunt/etc. They’re young. Give them those wide eyes. Show them that the future is bright. And illustrate the value of hard work in an endeavor worth pursuing.

To help you get started, I’ve tried this ridiculous exercise myself. I hope this helps on your career journey. If not, at least you can print it out to your kids and maybe they’ll finally understand exactly what it is you do, even if you’re not a Navy pilot…or podiatrist.

THE BIG TEST: LPO for little ones

Rebecca and Liam work in Web marketing. While a carpenter has a hammer and a fireman has a hose, their tool is called a website.

All over the world, people can look at websites on computers. People in Miami and Paris and Jerusalem and Tokyo can all look at the same website at the same time.

But people in Miami and Paris and Jerusalem and Tokyo might not all want the same thing at the same time.

People in Miami might want shorts.

While people in Paris want big coats.

And people in Jerusalem might want sunglasses.

While people in Tokyo want umbrellas.

To help discover what people in Miami and Paris and Jerusalem and Tokyo want on a website, Rebecca and Liam give tests.

Like a book, a website is made up of many pages. Tomorrow, Rebecca and Liam were going to run a test for people in Miami and people in Jerusalem. They had two pages to test… “A” and “B.”

“A” had been on the website for a year. “A” was very proud. People all over the world had read “A.”

“B” had never been on the website before. “B” was very excited. This was the first chance for “B.”

When “A” and “B” heard about the test, they were very nervous. Neither one of them had taken a test before.

So they went to Old Man Homepage. Old Man Homepage was the oldest page on the website. “What if we don’t know the answers?” “A” asked. “How can we study?” “B” wanted to know.

Old Man Homepage laughed when he heard the questions. “Oh, little pages, it’s not that kind of test. They just want to know what different people like. Just be yourself and you’ll do fine.”

“A” and “B” couldn’t sleep all night. They were still worried. But Old Man Homepage said he had been through many tests, and it only made him better and stronger.

When the big test day arrived, nothing really seemed different. Or felt different. “A” and “B” just went about their day as they usually did. And the next. And the next.

At the end of the week, they learned that they had finished the tests and the results were ready. They were surprised. They hadn’t felt a thing.

You see, they didn’t even know they were being tested. They had just gone through their day, greeting people from all over the world. And telling them what they had to tell the best they could. As Old Man Homepage had said, they were just being themselves.

Rebecca and Liam told “A” and “B” that they both did very well on the tests. So well, in fact, that they both won. And they both could stay on the website.

“People in Miami learn better from you, ‘B,’” Liam said. “But people in Jerusalem learn better from you, ‘A,’” Rebecca said. “So you will both stay on the website. And the people from Miami will read only ‘B,’ and the people in Jerusalem will read only ‘A.’”

And so it was. For many years, “A” happily served his fans in Jerusalem. And “B” happily served his in Miami. And the people in Miami were happy and got to read about their shorts. And the people in Jerusalem got to read about their sunglasses.

Special thanks to our very own Austin McCraw for help me write the above “children’s book.” Hey, it’s not an easy exercise. Ask for help if you need it.

Related Resources

Marketing Career: How to become an indispensable asset to your company (even in a bad economy)

Landing Page Optimization Certification course

The Business Case for Testing: How one marketer convinced her business leaders to start testing and drove a 201% gain in the process

Photo attribution: sizumaru
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