Marketing interviews and decoder ring

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Ok folks can mean a bunch of different things when they talk about marketing. And One of Graces friends asked an overview and help on interview questions. It’s actually a broad topic since people mean so many different thing when they say marketing. I’m definitely no expert by tl;dr when we say marketing we can mean but here are some categories I’ve noticed people use:

  • Social/SEO Marketing. What most people mean today but how to rev up Google to always find you or pay Facebook enough or get enough influencers to go viral
  • Classical Marketing. Where you analyze what product you a building and how to launch it.
  • Grand Strategy. Why the company exists in the first place and how does it build product portfolio and a huge business. (the least done but it makes the other two much easier)

These days most people are really talking about the tactics of marketing. That is getting as many followers as possible and found viral. https://www.social-marketing.com/Whatis.html. This is what up been doing and most folks think that is all marketing is. You could be cynical and say it’s “fire and pray”. If you get asked about this there are two big stream of work

1. Viral marketing. This means finding influencers and getting to post and repost. Most of the time it means paying them one way or the other as ambassadors. Or with an influencer it’s being “coin operated”. It costs a $1m for that person to post. There are whole companies devoted to this https://www.veem.com/library/paying-social-media-influencers-a-guide-for-businesses/

2. Paid marketing. This means promoting your site somewhere like buying Google keywords, Facebook promotion. This is a pretty technical field but the two key ideas are CPC (cost per click so you pay Google $20 and buy 2000 positions for say searches for ballet and you get 2 clicks so the cost per click is $10. That is terrible $0.15 is amazing). Then there is CAC or cost per acquired customer. This means someone actually buys something. It might cost $200 to acquire a customer for instance if 10% of the customers who click buy it. Now if their lifetime value (LTV) is $200K because they are buying diamonds rings that’s awesome but if they are buying pizzas and only every buy two for say $25 then you are losing money and that’s bad. You probably want to sign up for Google and Facebook ad managers they are free.

3. SEO marketing. A related area is just getting your website higher in Google organic search. This is called search engine optimization marketing. https://www.shopify.com/blog/seo-marketing And it basically fixing how you link in your site and then getting/paying other people to link to you. Google basically likes sites that have a lot of inbound links.

Now if you were born after 1999 (:-)) this is all that marketing is because, well most online products are in gigantic drag races. That is no one really knows why one particular voice chat site wins but the zillions of other voice chat site didn’t so it’s a question of getting a product out and just working like crazy with these so called tactics to try to get the network effect.

If you want to impress someone you can quote metcaffes law https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metcalfe%27s_law which is a technical idea that the value of a network increases dramatically (by the square). So a network with 1M users say has a value of $1M but a network of 10M is worth $100M and a network of 100MBPS users is worth $10B. So all of the above is trying to take advantage of the fact that the bigger you get the more valuable you are.


So a typical question for a post 2020 organization would focus a lot on tactics like:

1. if you are launching a product how much would you spend on Facebook. What key words would you buy on Google2. Have you Used the Facebook ad manager. How do you think about which goes you would buy.

The best answers to these questions all involve lots of testing. There are zillion companies that let you do A/B testing. That is trying lots of keywords and lots of fake websites. Amongst them is say Instapage.com. Take their tutorial and free trial if you want to look smart. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riMIdBgoO5c.

so basically modern marketing is throwing spaghetti up really rapidly. that is try 100 different landing pages with 100 different prices and offers and see what sticks.

But, if you are interviewing with a firm that has more classically trained marketing people then zooming out there is what is sometimes called strategic marketing. You can think about this as asking the larger question. Who wants say a new ice cream store and why.

In that case, in highly classical marketing you will get asked about the 5Ps. https://worksion.com/5ps-of-marketing/ and https://brandsfun.com/5-p-marketing/ (as an aside this last page shows one of the funny effects of SEO marketing notice how they slam a bunch of basically alike tags at the top that is to try to get Google to rank them higher. As an aside the number of Ps vary but the original idea is nearly 100 years old now. Started on the late 1940s!
So the 5Ps are the basics:

1. Product. What is it and what does it

2. Positioning. How do we fit it in the market place what’s it for

3. Pricing. It’s $99 a month.

4. Promotion. Get it now and the first year is free!

5. Place. We sell it online and at Walmart.

In classical marketing it is more about why you are doing the product in the first place. You will see this more when it takes alot of time to make a product. its sometimes called strategic marketing for that reason. So for instance if it costs 10 years and $1B to make say an Apple airtag then you might want to decide should you enter it in the first place. But the rough set of things you ask at this classical level are: how big is the market, what’s my advantage and how do I launch the product into the market.

The classic formulation here is the 3Cs. Customer, competition and company. https://www.marketingtutor.net/3-cs-of-marketing-strategy/ And you can see marketing folks in the classical days loved little rules like this.

Most of the time this marketing starts with bigger ideas like TAM (total available market) and User segmentation. this is all about how big is the market. https://www.advergize.com/business/market-sizing-how-to-calculate-market-size/ and how do you segment them which can be fancy statistical stuff like https://skimgroup.com/methodologies/segmentation-analysis/ or can be qualitative based on talking with customers.

Then the question is a competition or what it that people can buy anyway. So for instance today when you go to get an ice cream in the Village what other choices do you have amd why would you pick them.

And finally company or competence which is what you company is good at. How does it differentiate itself. For instance when you ask Apple, they will say they do products where the most important thing is the synergistic effect of hardware, software and services in the cloud.

As you can see, classical marketing is really amenable to case study questions whereas today’s marketing is more mechanical (almost like the different between can you do a essay vs what functions do you know in a spreadsheet).
So common questions are:

1. Why do you think Apple launched the Airtag. How would you analyze their target customers and market situation (cue a 3Cs analysis. So go through who you think the customers are, eg people who are already Apple customers, the competition (tile and third parties) and competence (since Apple also makes phones, use those phones to sense when there is a tile). If you don’t know what I’m talking about see https://www.pocket-lint.com/gadgets/news/apple/149277-apple-tracking-device-everything-you-need-to-know

2. The questions might invoke we are launching product X this fall what do you think we should do (if a millennial in a website company cue viral marketing, SEO etc. if a more classical company the 5Ps)

3. Pick a product you love and tell me why it’s successful. (Cue either the 3Cs or the 5Ps depending, I normally at this level go with higher level 3Cs)

As a final point, there is a level even above this that might call “grand strategy of marketing” which is why are you trying to seek a product like this in the first place. This is really rarified air but it is really about why does the company exist into the first place and what is its strategy for not just winking with one product but winning with all its products. This was the silly book https://www.amazon.com/Marketing-Playbook-Battle-Tested-Capturing-Keeping/dp/1591840384/ref=nodl_ we did 15 years ago now but it’s about the big questions of how you win an entire category.

You won’t get many questions on this from marketing people but it’s really what smart CEOs are asking.

As an example most companies are really running Drag Races. As an example I know someone who was doing a social media company in India and they had 10M users and then Facebook showed up and they were basically wiped out. What was going on.

Well if you are trying to out spend Facebook in a drag race to acquire customers, even is your CAC is 1/10 theirs they have 100x more money so they will have lots more customers.

Moreover, india is highly interconnected so they have all those users outside of India so the network effect is against you. And finally their cost to develop products which are just localizing their english product is 1/100th yours and they 100x more developers.

(As an aside the typical answer to this grand strategy question is the big guys love drag races but if you are startup you need to run a stealth add-on play. That is be valuable in a niche or something that a big company doesn’t care about or has a hard time doing).

As a final aside this level of grand strategy also is about the disruption you are seeing and what new disruptive wave gives you an opportunity to mitt to change the basis of competition. It’s actually more common in business pitches which are a super set of marketing. But https://pitchdeckexamples.com/startups/sequoia-capital-pitch-deck is kind of the main topics at this level

So questions You might get are:

1. I’m launching a new product line how should I think about (cue the sequoia idea) with tKey one being why now.

2. Or you get historical one like why do you think clubhouse Has been successful.

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