So the job search has just begun.  My days in retail management are over and now it's time to focus on planning for the next chapter of my life. What's it going to be?  I'm not sure.  But before it even begins, there's one thing I need someone to help answer:  Where can we, fresh college graduates, get the experience needed to get our foot in the door of an industry whose doors don't seem to want to open.

As I sit here in Bread Co., coffee in hand, I cringe at each and every job I come across online.  Minimum 2-5 years agency experience, minimum 4 years marketing experience with one of our brands, at least 2 years promotions experience in one of our product lines.  The list goes on and on.  The concept I struggle with is this:  As fresh college graduates, we obviously lack experience with a company's promotions department or marketing department or even a company's product line - but what we lack in experience, can we not make up for in passion, willingness to learn, and self-confidence and knowledge?

For anyone who knows me personally, you'll know I'm not a cocky guy (despite the anonymous individual that replied to my first Big Idea Blog).  I believe in confidence, the power of looking good and feeling good, and the importance of a fresh, creative mind.  Obviously, we are the new guys, the young guns.  What we lack in real-world experience, we make up for in desire to learn and desire to work.  At this point in my life I'm willing to be at the bottom of the barrel, but more importantly, I'm willing to step up to the plate, and do everything necessary to make an impact within a company.

A good solution I've tried to come up with is based loosely of the Harley Davidson Motorcycle Company in combination with the concept of high-def television.  It's a proposal that not only focuses on the highly successful strategy Harley Davidson used to increase market share in the 2000's, but also on the idea of a high-def solution for future businesses.  For now, let's call it the HD Proposal.  

In the early 2000's, Harley Davidson  faced an uphill battle as more competitors entered into the motorcycle industry.  The average age of Harley owners was 37-45.  The brand was traditional, brand-selective, and for the most part, dominated by a sea of older, more knowledgeable consumers.  Was this a good thing?  Sure.  But could the company gain from finding a new target market?  That was their experiment.  

In an attempt to reach a new target market they decided on a new strategy.  The goals were ambitious and included three main objectives: 1.  Reach new prospects. 2. Break down barriers to purchase.  3.  Generate leads to develop new, younger customer base.  Let's take a look at each of these goals and how they relate to my HD Proposal for businesses.

1.  To Reach New Prospects
  In this day and age, at the most basic level, what is the advantage of new employees?  New networks.  In advertising specifically, a new employee means the possibility of new clients, new accounts, new business, new ideas, and new potential in all areas of business.  Obviously, current clients are the priority in most companies, but what does it take to keep a business thriving in the future - new business and new interest in the success of the company.  

2.  Break Down Barriers to Purchase
  While in the case of Harley Davidson's strategy in 2001, the barriers to purchase were fundamentally price and brand misconception, the barriers I want to talk about in my HD Proposal are the barriers to entry within a company's HR department.  Listen, I'm not saying that a company should hire anyone and everyone, and I am a firm believer in an extensive and highly selective hiring process, but if the barriers to entry were broken down at the most basic level, I think companies could benefit from a hidden pool of talent that they might be missing out on. For example, take a chance on an account supervisor.  Throw out the 2 years minimum agency experience and take on a new prospect.  Throw out the 4 years management experience and allow individuals who show leadership skills from college to have a crack at the industry.  Maybe this is happening, but from what I'm seeing now, there are little to no positions available without at least some form of 'real-world, 'post-college', job-related experience.

3.  Generate leads to develop a new, younger client base.  
  Here's the part where I'm going to take a stab at the boomers for a second.  Trust me, it's only because I'm the new guy, and I'm a little jealous of their power and position within the realms of business.  For starters, I won't even try to argue about experience.  They've been around for years, worked harder, played harder, and brought with them knowledge that I am still learning each and every day.  So what point am I going to argue?  The fact that they can be a little stuck in their ways.  Without getting too in depth, things are changing.  New technologies, new businesses, and a new consumers are paving the way for the future generations.  Who knows this generation the best?  We do.  Who is best suited to appeal to this base, to generate leads on this new target audience, and create effective business solutions towards this generation?  We are. 

The rant is over, but I do hope companies are investing in ideas such as this.  Maybe it's not the right time or maybe it's just not the right solution, but I can provide strong argument that it is a very bright idea for the future success of businesses.  If I was starting my own business, would I feel more comfortable in the hands of the knowledgeable veterans or would I be more comfortable dealing with the creative, risk-taking young guns?  That's the question many young entrepreneurs are asking themselves.  I think I've made my answer pretty obvious, but I'd love to hear from you.
8/20/2009 04:07:50 am

I think the older crusty veterans are happy to rest on their past accomplishments. They are afraid of the young guns coming in and pushing them harder and out of their comfort zones. I like the young guns, they have a lot of energy and are for the most part ready to learn.I am banking on people like you for the future of this country. Get on that Harley and ride.


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