For the past decade, Marques Caos has made a name for himself as an independent hip-hop artist, blogger, and promotions expert in the music industry.
His years of delving into marketing and communications gave him the experience and wherewithal to transition his skills to one of the biggest brands in the world. Caos now serves at Nike in the position of Ekin brand marketing.
He recently discussed his role with Nike and provided tips on brand marketing.
How many years have you been with the company?
I’ve been working with Nike for 4 years now. I started with the company working part time at the Nike Store in Lenox Mall in Atlanta and progressed to where I am now. I’ve worked in my current role for almost two years.
What are some of your duties with the company?
My actual title is Ekin which is Nike spelled backwards. Part of my role is knowing Nike products forward and backwards as well as knowing the marketplace and the consumer the same way. I conduct in-store training for local retailers to ensure sell through of Nike products by acting as a storyteller for the brand’s key innovations and initiatives. I also create grassroots consumer activations in an effort to strengthen the consumers connection with the brand in the market.
What are the biggest business lessons you have learned thus far?
One of the biggest business lessons I’ve learned is to operate with a mindset that reflects meritocracy. It’s like Notorious B.I.G. once said, “you have to stay humble and treat everyday like it’s your first.” No matter how many college degrees or titles you’ve had, you have to treat every day like an intern. The biggest lesson I’ve learned though is to leverage your network. Munson Steed once told me “your network is your net worth” and that’s something that has always stuck with me. Even today, I’m able to accomplish a lot of things by having relationships with key influencers, coaches, retailers, etc.
What experiences have you valued the most?
That’s a great question. Getting a chance to travel and be a part of brand activations at Superbowl or All Star Weekend never get old. Working with such a diverse group of counterparts every day is truly a learning experience. The opportunity to give back and work with the youth in the community has been the most rewarding experience though. Having the opportunity to not only educate but inspire through a brand so many people are passionate about is incredible.
How have marketing and branding changed over the years?
Technology has absolutely changed everything. Between the Internet and cellphone apps, consumers are finding new ways to interact with companies and with products. Watching the marketing world shift in the mid 2000s was fascinating and scary at the same time. The concept went from selling products to learning to provide consumers with solutions. The biggest challenge for me was getting too comfortable with outbound marketing and shifting to an inbound marketing way of thinking. Marketers and brands had to learn how to pull customers toward their product, rather than pushing their products toward their customers.
What advice do you give to business and marketing students who are entering the work force?
The best advice I can give is be confident in not knowing. Knowledge will only come with experience. Continue to be a sponge. Even after you graduate, learning never stops. Make sure you stay flexible and adapt to change quickly. Find someone who you admire who works in the same field as you aspire and make it a point to learn as much as you can from them. Be your own case study and start creating a portfolio that highlights your learning and experiences. Always remember you are your own brand. Put the same detail and passion into developing yourself that will bring to the job. Learn everything you can, even if you don’t see immediate use for it. The more you know the more you will grow. Finally, be honest and ask yourself, “what do I bring to the table?”