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Observed: I Skipped 'E-Marketing School'

It was an innocent enough question, and I really should have seen it coming, but it still had me scrambling for an answer since I’ve never been asked it before.
There I was, meeting my client’s boss for the very first time, when out comes, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but where did you learn to do what you do?”

Later, on the drive back to my office, I had all sorts of clever answers. But sitting there, across from my client’s boss, I was stumped. I mentioned something about being self-taught and working on lots of Internet marketing projects for over a decade, which is true, and then I quickly changed the subject.
But that question stayed top of mind with me for a while. When I think about the senior Internet marketing people that I know (some of whom are contributors to One Degree), most of us didn’t go to ‘E-Marketing School’. Nine times out of ten, our post-secondary education was in something else (often wildly unrelated) and even if we had wanted to go to ‘Internet Marketing School’ it didn’t exist at the time (and still barely does).
For many of us, our ‘E-Marketing School’ consisted of a long trial-and-error process of figuring this stuff out for ourselves and then our clients. And there are always new things to learn, which is what makes it both exciting and frustrating at the same time.
Now, ironically, my self-taught generation of Internet marketers are the ones being asked to teach what we know to the next generation of Internet marketers – in colleges and universities, no less.
Any day now I expect we’ll start to see job postings that read, “applicant must have an Internet Marketing Degree.” While this would amuse me to no end, I would also take it as one more sign that our industry is maturing.
Bring on the Doctors of Internet Marketing!


  1. Stefan Eyram
    Stefan Eyram July 21, 2005

    Good post, Bill. I have been asked variations of the same question. Even with the fact that I have worked on Internet marketing campaigns for global brands, been a speaker at major events, etc., traditional marketers and business executives still think what we do is black magic.
    Ken Schafer’s e-marketing courses through the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA) are a good way for people to get a handle on this industry and allows them to get the “degree” or certification. And I see more and more institutions of higher learning adding courses in e-marketing. Targeted degrees in E-Business are hear and WILL become a pre-requisite in the near future…except for old-timers like you and Ken.

  2. June Macdonald
    June Macdonald July 21, 2005

    E-what? You could barely take a direct marketing course in my day… I must be aging, I’m now reminiscing about duotangs and then the amazing advancement of being able to use regular paper for faxes…”800K is all the space anyone needs”… and AppleLink… 🙂

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