Marketing Natives – taking online offline [Interview with Benjamin Ruschin]


The Vienna based project Marketing Natives started organizing events and gathering members in 2011 and reached an unexpected level of participants for the Austrian scene so far. It focuses on connecting young professionals both offline through the actual conferences that are being held six times a year, and online through social communication platforms.

Thanks to Benjamin Ruschin, founder/head of Marketing Natives, we found out the thoughts and needs that made this concept come to life, as well as why it is successful and also applicable in other places around Europe. Here’s what he told us:

First of all, what was the idea behind Marketing Natives and what made you want to start this project?

The idea behind Marketing Natives was to bridge the gap between university and “the real world”. Having been a Marketing student myself, I know as a fact that even though universities pledge to provide their students with practical know-how, the outcome is typical a lack of tacit know-how and skill sets required to outperform in the job.

The goal of Marketing Natives is to provide students and young professionals in the Marketing domain with three assets:

  1. Marketing Knowledge

    We host six events per year, each event focusing on a different innovative Marketing topic (e.g. Buzz Marketing, Experiential Branding). Three to four speaker with entirely different backgrounds provide practical insights into how they understand the Marketing topic, with regards to real world applicability. Our speakers include CEOs and CMOs from publicly listed companies (e.g. Martin-Hannes Giesswein of Nokia), CEOs of advertising agencies (e.g. Niko Alm, CEO of Super-Fi), start-up founders (e.g. Ali Mahlodji, CEO of whatchado) as well as researchers (e.g. Mark Kramer, Lecturer at FH Hagenberg), to give just a few examples. What the audience gets is a grasp of practical, hands-on approaches towards topics that matter in the practice of Marketing.

  2. Marketing Network

    Marketing Natives members benefit from a network of more than 600 like-minded yet interdisciplinary participants: career-minded, motivated, interested in the overlap of marketing and technologies. With ample opportunities to network, both during and after our events (continuously on our Facebook page), we equip our members with a lifelong network and intellectual community of individuals striving to excel in their Marketing careers.

  3. Training & Recruitment

    Our members benefit from a variety of training possibilities in the digital marketing sphere. These include trainings such as the “Qualified Google Advertising Professional” programme, in cooperation with Google Austria (we had >280 participants in 2011!), or the European Advertising Certificate programme, the EU-wide standard qualification for young marketing experts, which is offered by the European Association of Advertising Agencies in Brussels. Besides offering and sponsoring third party training opportunities, we have developed the DMVÖ Marketing Certificate, a marketing qualification we designed, which is accredited by the Austrian Dialog Marketing Association (DMVÖ) and recognized as a prestigious CV-addition by Austrian and German advertising agencies. In order to bring together job-seekers with offerings of the like, we collaborate with recruiting bodies such as our sponsor Monster Worldwide Austria, to ensure that our members are continuously on track with the most attractive marketing positions.



What did you manage to change in Vienna and Austria regarding the way people perceive conferences and networking opportunities?

We have disrupted the marketing and advertising scenery in Austria by encouraging an interdisciplinary approach towards marketing. The Austrian advertising community has traditionally encompassed a closed system, largely failing to collaborate with bodies outside of their disciplines and geographic reach. By internationalizing Marketing Natives and bringing together interdisciplinary individuals from across the world, we have created a new standard for Marketing conferences and communities in Austria. The rapid growth of Marketing Natives – currently 600 members – is also unprecedented. Within a matter of months, we have managed to overtake prominent marketing associations that have existed for the past decades, in terms of membership numbers. We have 350-400 guests at each of our events, which is more than we ever expected!

Another disruptive factor brought about by Marketing Natives are the technologies we implement in order to foster dialogs among our members. We are the first community globally to leverage Social Near Field Communications. We have collaborated with a very promising start-up, RealLifeConnect, which operates in the NFC-domain and has enabled us to provide our members with NFC-powered membership cards that integrate with out members social networks. When our members check in at our events, using their membership cards, they automatically check into Facebook Places, optionally they can also integrate their cards with other networks, such as Foursquare or twitter. Together with RealLifeConnect, we have launched a series of innovative mechanisms, enabling our members to access and leverage the social web using their NFC cards, and providing them with insights into how these innovative marketing technologies work, at first hand.


Why is it important to organize such events not only in Vienna, but in other cities in Europe as well?

Marketing Natives connects an international community of individuals through social channels and real-life events. Enabling like-minded individuals to connect, to find jobs and new employees, to perceive marketing management from a global perspective should not be confined to the Austrian marketing community alone. It’s an idea worth spreading.


Header Image(s) from Pixabay & Gratisography

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