When you despise English (and your teachers), you don’t ever really dream of a career in marketing. So when the time came to pick a degree and accumulate a huge debt with the government, I avoided marketing and any field that required writing, instead trying to decide between something in psychology or architecture. With an interest in helping people, marginally more than a design vocation, a Bachelor of Psychology at Macquarie University won in the end. What I didn’t know then, was that this degree would one day be a great foundation for my marketing career.
Copywriting starts for some in maths
If you are familiar with “Club Mac”, you would know that I had a lot of free time to enjoy life outside of uni, and as a result, was lucky to scrape through with credits in that first year. But I did discover two things at the time that would totally change my opinion about the English language, and eventually ignite an interest in content marketing.
The first – a random unit choice to fill an elective gap, called Philosophy and Logic. Although I quickly forgot about Socrates and Aristotle, the logic assessments required lengthy essays using the principles of logic. Overnight English became maths to me, and the penny dropped. If you struggle with writing and have never encountered this approach to writing, I highly recommend watching this video on Valid and Invalid Arguments. Warning: it’s pretty nerdy, but for someone who got the impression from school that I couldn’t write, it gave me the confidence to compose engaging sentences, paragraphs and stories, for the first time in my life.
Fiction, vocab and typos
The second revelation was reading! I wasn’t illiterate but my librarian mum had given up all hope that any of her three children were going to share her passion for fiction. Reading was a chore for all of us, but during my first uni holidays (as mentioned I had a lot of time on my hands!) I was really, really, really bored. I can’t tell you the name of that first book, I do remember that it was pretty gruesome, something about war crimes, but without the pressure of a deadline to finish, my love affair for reading was born.
Reading fiction increased my vocabulary exponentially, dramatically improved my horrid grammar and revealed a breadth of writing styles I would one day need in my marketing toolkit. All of this also taught me how to edit the work of others, which is a skill for life in marketing. I am still learning new words every week and keenly enjoy finding typos in novels (I am coming back in the next life as an editor for a big publishing house).
The not so big leap from communications to marketing
Ok so I didn’t have an epiphany at uni and knock on the door of the marketing faculty. I still had a strong desire to help people and I was blind to how I could connect this desire with marketing. After uni, I took a detour into the world of IT (that’s a whole other blog!), pursued a postgraduate degree in health promotion, and landed my first job in the health sector. With my boyfriend at the time (now husband and Threesides’ Co-director Todd Wright) making waves in tourism marketing, I truly believed what I was meant to do was for the greater good, and our paths would never meet professionally, while he was “selling stuff”.
How wrong could I get it? Moving from communications to marketing was easier than I thought, both technically and ethically. I realised we were doing the same things just with a different dictionary of jargon – he created marketing plans and campaigns, identified target markets and wrote blogs. While I was developing communication plans for stakeholders and writing the copy for brochures. I saw communications as changing behaviours while he approached marketing with a commercial lens, but effective marketing and high conversion rates are ultimately the result of behaviour change. So it may have taken about 15 years but the epiphany did finally happen! I understood my psychology degree was not to be wasted and was actually a huge asset for a marketing position, and started my marketing career at Threesides in 2014.
Crafting words in a digital landscape
But a career in content marketing would have gone nowhere without words. Marketing campaigns, and the accompanying copy, facilitate behaviour change in every industry we work in. What has changed with today’s digital landscape is simply how those words translate across platforms and mediums. Words naturally still come first for me, but as I write them, I am thinking about my marketing strategy and how the same message in words will play out in photos, videos, reels, stories, posts, blogs, ads, or whatever other medium comes next. So that 18-year-old me who wanted to help people, loved design, and was just finding her voice in writing, has discovered marketing was where she was always meant to be.
My unconventional path to marketing is actually not that unconventional. At Threesides, we have people who have studied and worked in tourism, journalism, media and PR, design, IT, health, hospitality, recruitment, HR, fashion, art, government, pharmacy, finance, etc, etc, etc. So my final words of wisdom are – don’t limit your career by what a teacher once told you, or what you studied, because you might be missing out on an opportunity you just couldn’t see in front of you.