In 1960 an American professor named Jerome McCarthy created the 4Ps (Place, Price, Product Promotion) to dissect marketing into chunks that marketers could easily understand and tackle separately. McCarthy did this around the same time Elvis topping the charts. Music has (sadly) moved on since then, but marketing lecturers still drill the 4Ps of marketing into their students. The problem, as any marketer will tell you, is they don't use the 4Ps for their marketing efforts, they probably never did. At best, it's purely a theoretical concept, at worst, it's entirely irrelevant.
Luckily, a great thing happened in 1960, Seth Godin was born. Almost 48 years later, redefined the framework of marketing. It's an important post for graduates. Forget what the last three years have taught you, and use this to plan your marketing.
Really, the best way to learn marketing isn't to start your own eBay shop, it's to learn to market yourself (thanks Matt). So apply Seth's framework of marketing as a self-marketing tool, we can begin to understand how marketing really works. Seth suggests the goal of marketing is connections. Connections based upon Interactions, Products, Stories and Data. Here is how any graduate can apply this.
First, use data to find the opportunities in your industry. Find where jobs are opening up, what are people doing, what's going on in technology? What will people want today and tomorrow? Whatever you decide to do should be routed in this data.
Now create your story. Be your own brand. A story isn't fake, they're what you do. How about the young graduate that can implement these new social media tools into client strategies? How about the 100% reliable graduate that always delivers everything on time, to spec, free of errors? Even better, why not both? Find a story that fits what you want to do, then be that story.
Your product (your services) is how you deliver your story. Be great, brilliant rather. The best is a good target to aim for. Remember, you're not selling anything to anyone, you're solving problems. If you can solve someone's problem better than anyone else, you get the job. So use data to find that problem. Provoking a positive emotion helps. Learn skills that will solve people's problems (CSS, design, sales etc...) and add a bonus unique to you.
Now you're really flying. You still need to reach people who will pay you. You could build up your beloved CV, crank out the cover letters and begin calling recruitment agencies. Or you could begin blogging, attending conferences and finding people just like you. You could discuss tomorrow's major trends with top industry experts. You can figure out where you fit in. You could build great relationships and have allies helping you find the right sort of work you want.
Now are you creating connections? Are employers, clients, friends and colleagues talking about you? Have you given them reason to? Are you surpassing their expectations? Have you found that place within the realm of marketing where you both belong and excel. You might just find it's a really enjoyable place to be.
If you can do this, then you've learnt how to market yourself. And if you can market yourself, marketing products will be easy.