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Kristian Kristiansen: State of Digital Summer School, Learning from the Experts

This summer we are taking you back to school! We are focussing on education in Digital Marketing: what is the best education, what background is important? Questions you will see answered throughout the summer by those you can learn from the best: the experts. Those that already earned their stripes and are now willing to share with you how they got there and what you should do to get that far as well.

Kristian Kristiansen is Account Director SMFB Shnel & Melnychuck & Forsman & Bodenfors (Norway). is an enthusiastic individual with a strong understanding of the brand marketing & sales process. Experienced in the hands-on deployment of related strategies and well skilled in project and team management. Kristian has won multiple Cannes Lions awards, most recently for IKEA and Geox in 2013.

More about Kristian here.

Summer School

What type of education did you have?

I am collage educated with languages as a specialty (NO marketing school what so ever). The best education I had, was almost going bankrupt, with my first business (A jeans store in Oslo, Norway).

Is your education related to what you do now?

No, my school education has no relations to my work today, not at all. I picked my majors in languages because I had no idea what i wanted to do in life, and thought…you alway need to speak to people no matter what you end up doing.

kristian-kristiansen-smHow did you get into digital marketing?

I have alway been into marketing, since i opened my first jeans store, at the age of 19, it has alway been about finding the best way to spark a meaningful conversation with my customers, to inspire them, to be relevant & interesting. And in the end make them change behaviour, buy more & always come back. It just so happens that the best way to do so now-a-days are through the digital channels. So now I do digital marketing , but what I really do is the same as always – find the bast way to offer the customers what they want.

Did you need extra schooling? If so, what type of extra schooling did you get?

No, no extra schooling I have always focused on understanding my customers in everything i have ever done. Trying stuff, failing, and learning from the mistakes, making sure you understand what went right and what went wrong, is the best schooling i have had and still get every day. I have also learnt a lot from good colleagues up through the years, especially at Diesel Jeans (where i spent almost 11 years doing about everything you can imagine in the marketing & sales process).

How do you think the state of education in marketing is these days? Do marketers learn what they need to learn?

It is hard to talk about all forms of marketing education in one go. Some are probably better then others but I still think there is an over emphasis on the theoretical / generalist side of marketing-education. I think being in it, looking at , listening too, asking questions to skilled marketeers is worth a lot. Learning by doing, is the best way to learn anything. I would like to see more and better integration between schools and the industry, both on client and agency side. I think that would create better marketeers.

How do you feel about online training courses?

I like online training courses and I love youtube, you can learn about marketing on youtube if you search correct. I think the flexibility and the learning on-the-go aspect is good, but it demands a lot more from the students. Online training demands discipline to get through the courses in due time and at a good level.

What is your tip for those that want to learn more?

Google everything you wonder about. Read up on topics you want to learn more about, everything on everything is available – use it. Follow people you want to learn from, on-line, read their blogs, send them questions. Be proactive – call the agency you want to work at, ask to come and see how they work. Get a part time job at a client´s store, understand the business by being in it – do a free stage to get in. Put yourself in the position to learn.

What resources are best to learn marketing?

The WEB – like i said – everything on everything, is available online – Google it – interpret it – use it.

What’s the last lesson in marketing you learned?

Can I do my BEST lesson in marketing, instead of the last? I do that. Some yeas ago I was sent to Germany, by my boss in Diesel at the time, with the task of setting up a collaboration between BMW´s Mini brand and our brand. Everyone was doing co-labs at the time. We wanted to design a custom Mini convertible car (still not out yes). The MINI people looked at us a bit funny, then politely explained the lengthy process of design in their industry, security testing and all. I went back to Diesel HQ and started to explained all the roadblock, leading up to my conclusion at the time – we cannot design a car for MINI. I never got to my conclusion, mid-way through my presentation, my boss got up, grabbed my be my shirt neck, lifted me “up of the floor” and literally threw me out of his office ( i am almost 2 meters tall), while screaming at me “DON`T tell mo NO, tell me how”. 2 days later i flew back to Germany, and in stead of asking if we could design a car for them, I asked how much of the already designed car would we be able to alter without jeopardising security, within the timeframe we had (next season). 3 months later it rolled out of the production line, about 16% of the car had been designed by Diesel, the rest by BMW, and everyone was happy. I learnt two things that day – There is never NO in marketing, there is always a way. And you can achieve ANYTHING, it is just about what kind of questions you ask.

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Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.