It's a New 50-year Cycle: What a Great Time to be in Marketing

If you think about it, we’re entering a 4th incarnation of marketing, a cycle that only comes along every 50 years. Although it’s been a means of advertisement since before currency was invented, let’s use 1860 as a starting point. Back then, marketing was done mainly in-person, by soliciting to pedestrian traffic walking by your store. 50 years later, around 1910, door-to-door sales activities started to become popular. Still in-person, but a polar shift in that now the seller was coming to the buyer. 50 years after that, around 1960, the Mad Men of Madison Avenue catapulted marketing into the broadcast era of print, radio and the then new medium, television. Now the seller was really coming to the buyer, and everywhere, not just in his/her home.


And although it’s been 20 years since the commercialization of the internet (thanks, Marc Andreessen), and only 10 years since social media started taking hold (thanks? Mark Zuckerberg), it’s really only been recently, say 2010, that we’ve entered a 4th 50-year cycle of marketing transformation - content marketing.

The funny thing is that, in a way, marketing has come full circle with content marketing. Yes, it’s still broadcast, still buyer coming to seller - everywhere - through various social and other media channels. But content marketing is just as much a pull as a push technique. So at least partially, we’ve come full circle over these four 50-year marketing cycles. 


The more important point than coming full circle, is that we’ve now at the start a new 50-year cycle - in an area as dynamic as marketing. This means there are boundless once-in-a-lifetime career opportunities to capitalize on. So I say it’s a great time to be in marketing. And I believe this to be true whether you use the job or business paradigm. This post is about the job paradigm. I’ll probably write another about the business paradigm of this phenomenon as well.


Back to marketing jobs - PR, ad, and marketing agencies are being shaken up. This always leaves some of the old guard out in the cold. That means opportunities within these organizations for others. The same goes true for employees within an enterprise in the marketing department. Of course, new companies are going to pop up under this type of environment, giving opportunities to entrepreneurs and their early employees. 


In most cases, at new or established companies, this type of disruption usually benefits the young the most. I’m not saying necessarily that they will leapfrog their boss 20 years their senior. But from a career perspective, they simply would have waited way longer for accelerated job opportunities than at a time other than a start of a 50-year cycle.


My two youngest daughters are experiencing this right now - Lauren at Co Collective and Gwendolyn at The Outcast Agency. (I know, those are brand strategy and PR firms, respectively, not marketing companies per se, but I say “even more to my point” about expanded opportunities.) They are coming up on six and five years, respectively, out of college. Neither are CEO of their companies - yet. But just ask either if they think they would be doing anything close to what they are if they had graduated 10 years ago or 10 years from now. The answer is no. 


They hit an industry at the right time. I’m not say they are outlier cohorts as described by Malcolm Gladwell in his Outliers book. It’s just too early in their careers to tell. Neither has logged near 10,000 hours yet at their age. What I am saying is that it’s a fact that they are definitely in the right place at the right time. 


So, if I was going to turn this post into career advise, it’s the same advice, but for two groups of people. The first group are those still in school or early in a career. The second group are those with nebulous career paths, or those unhappy with what they are doing. You know who you are, the ones I was urging to find the right job with my first ever blog post Don’t Work a Day in Your Life


For both groups, I think you should strongly considering a career in marketing. Why? Because it’s a new 50-year cycle. If we continue this 200 year trend, it will be 2060 the next time around when it's this good to get into this type of job. How old will you be then? Like I said at the beginning - What a great time to be in marketing.



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