The Most Important Skill: Marketing

For the last ten years, I’ve been realizing more and more that the most important skill that anyone can work to acquire is an understanding of marketing. While I don’t consider myself a sales person, I have a much better understanding today regarding the motivations behind buying something, and that has lead me to many amazing opporuntities.

A while back, I was asked to host a simple photography event. I was to help a group of people better understand landscape photography, something I was not an expert in. I did some research, and with my passion in photography, and some quick trials before the event, I was able to share some tips and tricks, while providing the group with the confidence they needed to take some amazing shots.

During the session, one lady asked me about being a full time photographer and going to school for the trade. I talked to her about the pitfalls of being a full time photographer, and the highly competitive nature of making a living from the pursuit. I then began my rant about marketing. I really do believe that having a skill is only part of the battle. With so many people sharing all forms of media online, it is only going to become more competitive and frustrating for those wanting to make journalism or photojournalism their career choice.

The woman had a natural talent and eye for photography, and so I told her that maybe her time would be better spent getting a marketing degree. At first she looked at me as though I was crazy, but once I explained that there will be thousands of photojournalism grads, and the ones that will get the jobs are not necessarily the ones with the best images or best portfolios, she began to understand.

There is a huge assumption in the world that if you are the best at something, you will be rewarded, but if no one knows you are the best because you work in isolation, how can anyone reward you?

Marketing effects many facets of my career, from how I structure my resume and cover letter in order to get hired, to how I train others in the company. Having a strong understanding of marketing and the techniques surrounding it, and how you can apply marketing techniques to your own goals can help put you ahead of those unable or unwilling to do so.

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