Warwick Marketing Conference

Today, I attended the Warwick Marketing Conference, organised by the Warwick Marketing Society of my school. It was a full day event filled with amazing speakers. Just to mention a few speakers, Ryan Den Rooijen from Google talked about how content creation is changing; Howard Nead from IPG Mediabrands spoke about how marketing principles have not changed but technology has changed how things are done and Abigail Brown from Cancer Research UK talked about marketing to beat cancer and shared many interesting examples. I’ve learnt so many things today that it is impossible to type them all out in a blog post. Hence, I would like to share one of my most important takeaways from today – Taking actions.

Taking actions

The answer to the question above is simply (well, not so simply) taking actions. I strongly believe that taking actions to develop one’s passion in marketing will help a student get a marketing job that he/she is interested in. When I say taking actions, I do not mean simply reading up about marketing and applying for internships; but real actions where you hone your skills and exercise your creativity, such as practising content creation through blogging, promoting your society and events in school and volunteering to help small charity organisations with their marketing. This is similar to how designers always create their personal portfolio of designs, because they can show prospective employers or people who are interested in their design services what they have done.

This is not just my opinion but it was also mentioned in today’s conference by Jackie Jobes, who is in charge of graduate recruitment from IPG Mediabrands and Sarah Ellis, Head of Corporate Responsibility and Society at Sainsbury’s.

Someone asked about the importance of internships when applying for a marketing job and the Jackie from IPG Mediabrands answered that internships are not the only thing they look for. They are also keen to know about what have you done in your personal time to develop your passion in marketing. She even said that, “We expect that you have a blog.” With the rise of content marketing and the fact that almost every company has a blog nowadays, I can understand why they have such expectation. Hence, she suggested applicants to link their CVs to their own personal portfolio or website.

UPDATED 09/03/2014: Jackie added that it’s not just about having a blog but also ensuring the quality of the blog.

Then, a student asked Sarah Ellis from Sainsbury’s if experiences in a (likely unknown) startup is considered to be valuable, compared to experiences in a well-known corporation when applying for a marketing job. This was her reply:

This reiterates not just how valuable startup experiences are, but also the importance of actually doing something in the field of marketing for someone who is looking for a marketing job.

If you are interested in starting with internet/online marketing, do check out this really informative guide created by Eric Siu of GrowthEverywhere: The Beginner’s Guide To Becoming A Full Stack Marketer. He included several great resources where you can start learning about the various aspect of online marketing such as SEO, PPC, Copywriting and more. Read and take actions!

To end off, here’s a quote from Sarah Ellis:

So in summary,

[Tweet “If you want to get a job in the marketing field, start practising the art now.”]

P.S. If anyone wants my notes from today, let me know and I’m happy to share it.
P.P.S. In my next article, I will write about what I’ve learnt from taking actions. So if you are interested, hang out or subscribe to my articles (:


By Alfred Lua

For students who aspire to be entrepreneurs but do not feel that you are ready to start a business yet, here are 5 things I do as an aspiring entrepreneur, which have been helpful to me.

1) Read relevant articles and news
Just like reading the world news makes you more aware about what is happening around the world, reading articles and news about startups enables you to learn about the community. In particular, through reading up in this area, I get to know about new and innovative startups, the problems they are trying to solve, their creative solutions to the problems, unique business and revenue models and pick up tips shared by experienced entrepreneurs. With more knowledge in this field, I can then try to adapt and apply them to my business. For example, when I think of pricing, I know that apart from commission model, there are also subscription model and freemium model (most features are free but some premium features has to be paid for. Eg. LinkedIn)

Here are some sources I read articles from:

Apart from reading these articles, I subscribed to some entrepreneurs’ blogs. However, beware that signing up to too many mailing lists can make you unproductive. Here are some blogs I follow:

2) Surround yourself with like-minded friends
To me, a great way to be inspired and motivated is to hang out around friends who are aspiring entrepreneurs too. I remember clearly how Lean Startup Machine Singapore and Global Graduate Entrepreneurs Festival made me feel so inspired and motivated. I was constantly surrounded by people who also want to start a business or have already started their businesses and the energy level and desire to do something were just incredible.

Look out for friends who want to start a business too or like to create new things or have pet projects. Hangout together, share interesting articles and discuss about startup and business related topics. Perhaps you will find someone who can work with you on a project or business idea.

3) Attend startup events / meet ups
Linked to the previous point, attending startup events and meet ups puts you in a context where you are surrounded by entrepreneurs, experienced and aspiring. Apart from meeting like-minded people, you will be more in touch with the topics discussed in the startup community, such as the Lean Startup concept, and take away valuable knowledge shared by others. One of such meet ups I attended in Singapore is the monthly Singapore Lean Startup Circle, which I highly recommend if you want to learn more about Lean Startup and meet Lean entrepreneurs (entrepreneurs that believe and use lean concept, not that they are lean). There are Lean Startup Circles in other parts of the world too.

4) Have a pet project
As a student, I’m pretty sure you have quite a bit of free time every now and then. Instead of always going to the club every other night, or scrolling through your Facebook/Instagram/Twitter newsfeed for hours, start a pet project. It does not have to be a business idea or something that makes you money. It can be a blog where you share about things you have learnt (I have a friend who learnt photoshop and created tutorials on his blog), a weekly meet up to talk about designs, a community service project, organising mini concerts, cookouts, etc. It does not need to take up a lot of time too. Say a few hours a week?

I would suggest that you start something based on your interest because you will not be able to sustain doing something you do not like. For example, if you like to cook, you can take photos of your food and post them on a WordPress blog or Pinterest, or organise small dinners with friends to get feedback about your cooking. So first, think about what your interests are.

5) Develop a skill
Finally, instead of trying to make your CV look impressive by doing many many many things, focus on developing a skill that you want to be good at. First thing first, it does not need to be programming! While programming is a very useful skill, especially with the current trend of tech startups, there are many other skill sets that are required in a startup; for example, design, marketing, growth hack, finance, business development and data analysis. You can develop a skill by reading up online and, if possible, practising it. There are many free resources online such as YouTube, Udemy and Coursera.

I have a friend who wants to be a data specialist so before university started, he interned in the department of Zalora which dealt with regional data and he learnt so much about analysing data and using Excel proficiently. Although university has started for him, he is still constantly learning about data and data analysis. Also, he practises by creating small projects and tools with Excel such as his own expenditure tracker. Another great example is my sister who started The Cake Issue. She likes to bake so she tried to improve her skills by attending courses, watching YouTube videos and practising. Now, she is running her cake business online.

In conclusion, if you really want to do something now but still feel that you are not really to start a business, there are 5 things that I recommend you to do:

  1. Read relevant articles and news
  2. Surround yourself with like-minded people
  3. Attend startup events / meet ups
  4. Have a pet project
  5. Develop a skill

Do you get as grumpy as this when you can't think of a name?

Do you get as grumpy as this when you can’t think of a name?

After my previous post, I would like to follow up with a post as to how I came up with those names by sharing my thought process. Also, I understand that naming is always a challenging task so I would like to share some possible methods of coming up with names at the same time.

1) Combine relevant words
This is a very common method which consists of 2 simple steps. This is how I came up with the name Bake Lady.
– Come up with a list of words that are relevant to your business
– Combine 2 to 3 words to create a catchy and easy to remember name

This process has been wonderfully elaborated in great details by Marigold in my previous post so I would like to share her brainstorming method:

My brainstorming method:

1. Use an excel spreadsheet to list as many words as I can that relate to the business, both it’s products and services.

2. Use a thesaurus to expand and add words you hadn’t thought of

3. When you have as many words as possible, move them around, group them or put them next to each other, to see if they can be combined to create something new and different

4. Highlight a short list of favorites and check they are available as domain names

5. Run the final short list by friends to see which one resonates most!

Thanks, Maz!

I believe this is probably how Snapchat got its name. It is a messaging app where people chat (chat) by taking photos (snap). Other examples include PayPal, Dropbox and SoundCloud.

2) Adapt from other names
This method involves taking reference to existing names of businessses, products or services and adapting them to suit your business. Be careful with this as you do not want to sound like a copycat! So I suggest that you should refer to more than one name and create a name that is relevant to your business. This is the method I used to come up with the names, 10 Grams and Grams of Sugar.

I took reference to companies like Tencent and Tesla Motors. I combined the way Tencent is named with Tesla’s concept of using a unit of measurement in Physics. The units of measurement that came to my mind were grams and kilograms when I thought of baking. Therefore, I came up with the names 10 Grams (I admit this is very similar to Tencent but you can simply change the number to a number you like.) and Grams of Sugar.

3) Add numbers to a word

Talking about numbers, this brings me to my next method. This may sound lame because it is just like what you do when you are creating an email account or a character in a MMORPG and the name you want is taken. (eg. alfred10 when alfred is not available.) However, I feel that it is an creative way of naming. One of the famous brands that has a number in their company name is Timbuk2 (it was partly inspired by the American rock band, Timbuk3). Some other examples of existing businesses with numbers in their names include 37signals and Spark59.

4) Follow current trends

Another method which I like is to look at the current trend of naming. I spotted 2 trends.

One, there is a trend of adding a suffix to the end of a word related to the business. Here are some examples: Shopify, Strikingly, Contractually (See how Contractually plays with the domain – http://www.contractual.ly/). This is how I came up with the names, Beautifully and Prettify.

Two, another trend is to replace a letter of a term with another one that is similar or misspelling the word by dropping a letter or adding an additional letter. Here are some examples: Svpply, Tumblr, Dribbble. This trend is likely to stay for a long while but there are repercussions to have such names.

5) Play around with words

One interesting method is to play around with the words related to your business or your slogan. For example, TOMS Shoes evolved from the original project name, Shoes for Tomorrow Project. (Thanks, Maz, again)

6) Base on your purpose

Finally, the last method I would like to share is to create a name based on the purpose of your business. An example of such a naming is Spark59. According to Ash Maurya of Spark59, “Research indicates that it takes 58 new product ideas to deliver a successful new product.” so he wants to help entrepreneurs get to their 59th idea faster. Therefore, he named his company Spark59.

Another example is Y Combinator. According to their website, “The Y combinator is one of the coolest ideas in computer science. It’s also a metaphor for what we do. It’s a program that runs programs; we’re a company that helps start companies.”.

For inspiration on naming, I would suggest to take a look at Product Hunt which is a daily leaderboard of the best new products. Everyday, it produces a list of the best new products for that day so there are lots of names to take reference for inspiration.

However, ultimately, I still believe that whatever name you come up with, you have to like it yourself and do not be too affected by others’ opinions (unless your name is really silly or offensive). It is inevitable that some people will not like the name you came up with but you do not have to satisfy everyone. Furthermore, the name of your business is not a major deciding factor of the success of your business compared to how you run it, market it and treat your customers, etc. BreadTalk, a close to home example, may sound like a silly name but they are so successful! Needless to say, Facebook is another great example.

That’s all from me. Happy naming!

Alfred

Thanks, Gratisography, for the free high resolution photo!