According to the American Marketing Association (AMA), marketing is “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” That’s a mouthy way of explaining that successful marketers effectively communicate a product’s value to customers. Those that want to enter the field of marketing need a resume in hand and experience to draw from. But, unlike many other careers, job seekers in this field must bring a marketing portfolio to the interview table as well. A marketing portfolio, also known as a career portfolio, is an organized collection of prior work samples that display your skill and ability in the trade. It brings color to the black and white text of a resume and reassures potential employers of the quality work you’ll do. Is it possible to land a marketing job without a portfolio? Maybe, with the right connections and a flawless resume. But having one only enhances your potential in the eyes of a prospective employer and presents them with tangible evidence of your prior successes. In the sports industry, teams gain fan support with wins and titles. But the marketing arm of a sports organization or league also plays an important role in attendance, merchandising sales and game ratings. Competition for these positions is tough. A well put together, fully stocked sports marketing portfolio could be the piece of the puzzle that completes the picture.

Where to start?
Whether you’re just about to finish college or you’ve been in the marketing industry for 20 years, it’s never too late to develop a marketing portfolio. But don’t make the mistake of diving right into the details; information overload will quickly overwhelm you. Make a list of the places you’ve worked where you produced some marketing or advertising material. Once you’ve created that list, document the various projects you worked on for each of those companies. No easy task if you are a well-seasoned marketer but do your best. It’ll be worth the effort. Now that your project history is laid out, delve deeper into your memory to recall what specific material you’ve created or helped design that can be included in a marketing portfolio. Though your focus is on sports marketing, any marketing or advertising material you’ve produced may be relevant. Track down copies of as much of this work as you can. It should be no surprised that keeping a record of your creative work is vital. Hopefully you’ve followed this guidance but, if not, you may have to recreate some of it or call in some favors to obtain copies.

If you have no professional experience because you’re fresh out of school or yet to land your first marketing job, you still have options. College course work will produce a wealth of sample material to showcase your talents. And you can independently start creating advertising material, even for fictitious products and services, which still presents prospective employers some insight into your talents.

What to include?
Depending on your experience, a myriad of material should be considered for your marketing portfolio. The field is all about effective communication. When you look at your relevant work experience, keep that in mind. If your advertising experience is in the print medium, include flyers, magazine inserts or newspaper advertisements that you played a part in creating. If digital advertising is your forte, screenshots of website banner or pop-up ads you designed should be included. Visuals are obviously best because they stand out when a hiring manager flips through your portfolio. But text-based marketing like press releases and paid articles found in magazines and newspapers should also be added. Sports marketing is based heavily in television and radio so also add transcripts of audio or video spots you’ve written. For work you’ve done in these two mediums, a digital portfolio – we’ll cover that soon – is a must. Remember to only choose the best of the best to showcase because no one will make time to review a hefty, fifty page portfolio.

Digital or hardcopy?
While the world is fully embedded in the age of digital information, thorough job seekers should maintain both an online and hardcopy version of their marketing portfolio. Print screenshots of online advertisements you’ve worked on and make copies of print marketing materials and audio transcripts you’re responsible for. You have invested a lot of time gathering, sorting through and selecting your best work to present so don’t skimp on the final product. Locate a FedEx Office or other high quality print shop, upload color, high resolution files of your portfolio documents to a USB drive and print multiple copies of each sample you want to put in your portfolio. Purchase an appropriately-sized, professional looking binder or folder and fill it with your selected works. Finish it off by ensuring your name and contact information – email and phone number – is included on the front cover.

As for your digital marketing portfolio, the most popular way to present your work is through a personalized blog or website. When creating a website – established through blogging sites like WordPress and Blogger or via self-hosting sites like Hover and GoDaddy – ensure the website name is professional and includes your first and last name, if possible. Most of these sites will allow you to upload media files including text, pictures, video and audio. Keep it simple, clean and easy to navigate. You’re not trying to draw readers for page views. Rather, you’re providing samples for hiring managers to view. Once these two versions are established, it is important to keep your digital and hardcopy portfolios in synch. As you create new work to show off, add it to your blog and save and print a hardcopy to include in your binder.

How to present it?
With your marketing portfolio in place, you can now add another feather to your job seeking cap. The website URL should be added to your resume, all job applications you submit and featured in your LinkedIn profile. Hiring managers want to find the best candidates to quickly fill open positions. They’ll check out your digital profile and see high quality marketing samples that will lead to interviews and conversations about potential employment. Even after you’ve landed an interview, your career portfolio isn’t done working for you. Make sure your hardcopy binder is up-to-date and bring it, along side your resume, with you for each round of interview. While viewing your work online draws interest, seeing it on paper makes it really pop. No doubt, a hiring manager will want to ask you standard behavioral questions and talk to you about your experiences. But, in the world of advertising, they really want to know you can contribute immediately and deliver unique, excellent work. Your marketing portfolio validates what you already know and what they need to find out. Your past is filled with proof of your skill so put together something that shows it off and will translate both online and sitting on a table in an interview room.  

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