How to Become a Marketing Professional
Denise Visse works at Nike as the assistant to Bastien Renard, global brand marketing director for action sports. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in art education from Central Washington University and began her career as an elementary school teacher.
After she had children, Denise stayed home to raise them, and then she entered the field of marketing. In addition to her experience at Nike, Denise has worked as a project manager for Run With Paula Events, and as an apparel director for Portland Running Company.
What is marketing?
Marketing is the art of using product to tell a story that is so compelling, consumers can’t wait to get their hands on the product. Nike is truly the best in the business when it comes to telling these stories, because we obsess over details and really sweat the small stuff. It also helps that Nike sells premium quality items, which are easy to market.
Why did you decide to enter the field of marketing?
My trajectory into marketing was really about being in the right place at the right time, combined with a willingness to try something new. I was actually working toward a position in apparel when this marketing opportunity arose. Accepting this job was a good decision because there are a lot of parallels between the principles of marketing and teaching. Whether I am dealing with a consumer or student, I must first decide what information I will pass on and convey the information in a way that keeps them on the edge of their seat. When consumers buy the products I market, it is a bit like when a student passes a test.
Are there common misconceptions about your profession?
Many people think that marketing is all fun and games, and nothing more than coming up with slogans and commercials. It is fun, but it is also a lot of hard work. There is a great deal to consider when we are marketing a product. It involves working with the designers, the fabric engineers, the product managers, the buyers, the sales team and the accountants. We must figure out how to tell that great product story in a fresh and exciting way, while staying within the budget and keeping our consumers waiting for the next big thing.
What is a typical day like for you?
My job is somewhat unique. I work behind the scenes within the marketing department, overseeing logistics. I take care of the details, including scheduling meeting rooms, calendaring and managing supplies. I write and edit announcements to inform my team about which of our athletes has won, what products have just been released and what videos are being viewed on our Nike websites. In addition, I also assist other members of the marketing team with presentations, photo shoots, athlete visits, travel, and events like skating, surfing and snowboarding competitions.
My team regularly pitches seasonal marketing ideas to Nike leadership while following the guidelines of the bigger Nike marketing plan, in addition to the marketing plan for our specific category, Action Sports. We must communicate with those who are designing the apparel for our athletes and consumers, while also paying close attention to market trends and developing a fresh, new and relevant marketing campaign. My job involves a lot of brainstorming, planning cool events, and working with our public relations specialists to get the word out to our consumers.
What are your favorite aspects of your job?
My favorite parts of my job are the variety and the people. My job is different every day and I love working with people who are smart, creative, passionate and lots of fun.
What are your least favorite aspects of your job?
My job can be stressful. There is a reason it is called “work.” I have more tasks on my to-do list than I can finish in one day, as well as deadlines to meet and people to report to. Sometimes I lose sleep. I also hate it when my computer goes haywire. We are all so dependent on them!
Is there anything you would have done differently while studying to become a marketing professional?
Because I did not start out in the marketing field, this is a little bit hard to answer. As an education major, I wish I would have taken some business courses. I would recommend that any marketing professional take courses in art, as well as presentation and public speaking. I would also suggest paying close attention in English class, because the written word is permanent!
What classes did you take in college that are the most relevant to your job?
Many of my education courses are quite relevant to the marketing work that I do. The most applicable education class that I took in college was probably my course on thematic planning.
What personality traits do you think would help someone to be successful in the field of marketing?
To be successful in marketing, excellent organizational skills are important. Good marketing professionals can also step outside of their comfort zone and present ideas that may be controversial. It is crucial to be easy to work with, and well-versed in the art of compromise. Tenacity is also an important trait, and a sense of humor always helps.
What personality traits do you think might hinder someone's success in the field of marketing?
One trait that could hinder someone’s success in marketing is being too bound by rules, and only seeing the world in black and white. Marketing professionals must have the ability to see the big picture. In addition, those who take themselves too seriously would not be a good match for marketing.
What advice, or words of caution, would you give to a student who is considering studying to become a marketing professional?
If you are considering going into marketing, you should first get the most out of your education by taking advantage of the wisdom of your professors and any professionals in the field. Study your craft -- recognize which marketing campaigns you are most attracted to and why. Be a sponge, ask questions until you understand, and remember that anything worth doing is worth doing well. Don’t be afraid to start in the mail room; get your foot in the door so that you have something to put on your resume. Marketing is a great field. Go for it!