I spent Monday at the unique Student Careers Fair at the incredible Arthur Terry School in Birmingham courtesy of the inspirational Alex Zarifeh.
And what a day it was.
1750 kids ages 12 to 18 flowed through the fair in “batches” of 150.
I’m used to being out of my comfort zone these days but being surrounded by teenagers is actually fairly intimidating. I found it fascinating watching the huge number of teachers coming through who feel so natural and calm in that environment. To me they’re hero’s. I know I couldn’t do their job.
The fair started badly for me.
Having left school so long ago I don’t remember how many years ago it was, my initial technique of Rattling off all of my favourite words; brand extension, revenue, budgets, profit, licensing etc. unsurprisingly failed badly.
The guy next to me had a £1500 drone (which he was taking out to the playground for test flights) and topographic maps which were strangely more appealing than my fancy new brand postcards I had laid out. I like them. I know how much work went into them but in the grand scheme of things…..
The RAF had four, Yes four! of those pull up weird stand / banner type things, there were lawyers, universities, apprentice schemes!!! The guy selling ‘become a professional footballer’ academy courses had neck tattoos!!
I was woefully underprepared and hugely outgunned. For the last four years I would say 95% of my conversations have been about our company and why it’s so special. This wasn’t going to wash today.
Nobody knows what brand licensing is, so how on earth was I going to get any of the kids interested!
Suddenly I had to strip back everything and realising that I was now representing the entire marketing industry rather than droning on about The Point.1888, I quickly refined my strategy.
My key questions ended up being the following;
1) if I offered you a coke or a Pepsi which would you choose? (Oh how I wished I had prepared and brought props) and why?*
2) what’s your favourite brand / shop / clothing / food? And why?**
I actually use the latter in every interview I do too but both allow the students to question themselves and consider what is a brand.
Prepping students for the real world of work is so vital. Teachers are phenomenal characters and ultimately they are responsible for the future. No pressure there then.
Marketing is fascinating or certainly is to me. The intangible value of a brand and how it’s already inside your head influencing your choices – I find it fanciating. I know others do too but some of them don’t know they do yet.
At the end of the day I counted that 6 of the kids I met really got it. At least three of them will definitely end up working in the industry. All 6 were between 13-15. None from the sixth form.
In kids that age you can almost see them thinking and something seemed to spark in those 6. It was quite a special experience.
Maybe I helped them find their passion.
I hope so.
*As expected only 1 kid said Pepsi.
Less than 0.1%
**over 80% of the boys said Nike.
Marketing is fascinating.