Ryan is a key employee. If you aren't exposed to the inner-workings of Little Bird Marketing, you can't understand the weight of that sentence no matter how I write it.
When we received a request to speak with an Intro to Marketing class at Crowder College I knew he was the right person to send. After attaining his Graphic Design degree and coming to work at Little Bird, his job has morphed in an unprecedented way.
Our transition into a boutique firm with digital and inbound marketing expertise required his job description to change so much - now he is rarely designing graphics. Don't be tempted to rush to conclusions here.
If you think his degree is just wasting away...well, you'd be wrong.
On the contrary, Ryan's education in design is critical to the foundation of his successes at Little Bird. He is able to creatively see the whole project and collaborates fabulously with other designers. As a team, we deliver something of quality that is special and unique to each client.
This opportunity for Ryan meant he would be giving those following, perhaps in his footsteps, a "leg up" with fantastic insight into the "real world" of agency work. I asked him a few questions about his experience:
As you reflect on your experience at college for Graphic Design what do you wish someone would have told you about the "real world" of gainful employment after college?
College is great for a lot of things. But I know now that there are a lot of things you can't learn about your first job until you get there. So take that into consideration as you go along.
Don't risk wasting your first week on the job trying to navigate design software. You need that mental energy to get to know your new co-workers, your boss, and the ins and outs of your new position.
While you are in school, memorize and use as many Adobe Suite keyboard shortcuts as you possibly can. Even more importantly, use InDesign every single day. If your school doesn't require you to use it while you are getting your degree, do it anyway. (And maybe ask yourself if you are really in the right design program.)
What did you want these students to really understand through your presentation?
For an Intro to Business class, the primary objective was to shed light on how important it is to know who your ideal client is and what they are about. I talked about customizing marketing messages to address the problems of a potential buyer in a way that actually resonates with them.
I tried to make two other basic points. One is that inbound marketing doesn't try to beat people over the head or interrupt what someone is doing to sell them something they don't want. Inbound is better because it focuses resources on the people who are already interested in the thing you are selling. The other point I made was that it takes a team with a diverse skill set to run a great campaign, so there is a marketing job for just about everyone. It takes all types, from creatives and social butterflies to number crunchers and headphone dwellers.
What kind of questions did they ask you?
I got some questions about social media. Our ability to schedule social posts months in advance was a surprise to most. Thankfully, having a full-time employee monitoring and posting social media all day is a thing of the past. I don't know if they were as happy about that news as I am.
One question I wasn't expecting came from a student who was already developing plans for their future business. They asked about the average return on the dollar that Little Bird's clients see. My response was something like...there probably isn't a meaningful answer to that. Here's why. We work in a diverse group of industries. Comparing numbers with other businesses in a single industry can give us a sort of national benchmark, but, each industry and business is so different. Once things like Google and Facebook ad campaigns are factored in, stats that look at averages like that are likely to be more misleading than helpful.
Any final thoughts about the experience?
Yeah, actually. It was cool to get questions from the students who were legitimately interested in the topic. My college experience did not offer the opportunity to tour local businesses or hear from local industry experts. Looking back, I wish they had. I'm not a public speaker by any means, and I'm really not looking to get into that field. (I'm more of a headphone dweller myself). But, share your knowledge. It is a powerful way for businesses to invest in the community and in the next generation. I guess you could say I'm recommending it.
I'd also like to give Kahlief and Leighton a shout out for the success of this "field trip". They were pivotal in preparing the slide deck I used for the presentation and persevered through the painful process of me practicing here at the office. Their encouragement, critique and hilarity have been (and continue to be) invaluable. I think that's all I've got.