13 Ways to Improve your Marketing Career Marketing by INSIGHTLY TEAM June 13, 2023 Are you feeling a little stuck in your marketing career? We’ve all been there. It can be hard to know when it’s time to take the next step. Then, sometimes it’s hard to even know what that next step is. Even though the marketing career path isn’t a straight one, there are a few steps you can take to advance your career. 1. Decide if you are ready for your next position It’s not always easy to know when you are ‘finished’ with a current role. Marketing jobs are dynamic, and you may never feel like you’ve completed everything on your long ‘to-do’ list. It’s rare to feel like you’ve done all that you can do in your current position, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not time to move on. An easy way to tell if you’re ready for a new position is to pay attention to how you feel about your current work. Do you feel challenged or do you feel bored? Are you excited about or dreading upcoming projects? If your work is not energizing you like it used to, you’ve likely outgrown it. Another way to know if you’re ready to advance in your career path is by reading your original job description. Are you still working on the same primary tasks and projects? Or, have you moved on to more advanced work? If your role has already moved beyond what it was, you are likely due for a new position. 2. Set intentional career goals It’s tempting to obsess over advancing to a new title—a little signifier of success that you can show off on LinkedIn. Stop to consider what exactly this advancement would mean. Have you mastered everything in your current role? Would a new title provide new opportunities? How would you use those opportunities to grow? Make a list of your career goals outside of a certain job title or salary bracket. These goals shouldn’t be beholden to marketing career path titles, salaries and structures. Often, these are arbitrary and differ from company to company. Here are questions to ask when thinking about your next marketing career goals. Do I want to: Pursue a marketing specialty? (more on this below) Work in a certain industry? Be part of a large or a small team? Be on a founding team? Manage a large or small budget? Work with people I can learn from? If so, in what areas? Work remotely? Not every position will meet all your goals. But it’s still helpful to have this list when you’re considering opportunities and planning career moves. 3. Determine an internal or external move Oftentimes, this decision is made for you. Is there an open position at your company, or does your company have a dedicated career advancement path? In that case, pursuing your next move at your current company is often your best option. You get the benefit of learning and growing without the learning curve of a new industry, new co-workers, and a new office (or Zoom meeting code). But, you may decide that you’re ready to move to another company. Or, as is often the case, your company may not have a clear next step for you. This is typical at startup companies or companies with small marketing teams. So you may have only one choice: spend more time in your current position or leave to pursue something new. How do you know if you’re ready to move to a new company? Learn a new skill If you enter a team as a content writer, you may want to branch out into more of an SEO management role. You’ll explore SEO tools and strategies in this type of position. Or, if you start as an email marketing specialist, perhaps marketing operations will have some appeal to you. You’ll operate a marketing automation platform and likely work with the sales ops team running the company’s CRM. If your current team doesn’t have these types of roles, or does not support this type of growth, it may be time to move on. Try a new industry One reason why marketing is a great career is because you not only learn a lot about the marketing world, but you also learn so much about every industry that your business is in. If you’ve spent a few years marketing to healthcare, for example, you might want to try your hand at marketing to software developers. If you’ve spent your career in B2B, you may also want to try B2C, or vice versa. Different industries prioritize different types of marketing, so you may be on a team that runs a go-to-market motion that is partner-led and therefore has a channel marketing function, while another company may have an event-led go-to-market strategy where a full events team is employed. Meet new people We learn so much from every co-worker and manager. Advancing your career can sometimes mean shaking up your work environment. When you move to a new company, you can guarantee that you’ll grow by learning how to work with new and different people. This is especially true if you go to a larger marketing team that may have specialized sub teams for digital marketing, events, marketing operations, content, social media, and more. 4. Understand your next step Especially in the startup world, hiring for marketing can be fragmented. Some companies have a CMO or a VP of Marketing as one of their first five hires. Some companies wait until they have an entire sales division before they hire a marketer. The typical marketing job titles hierarchy at a tech or software startup might look something like this: Senior Team (VP or Senior VP) Titles: Chief Marketing Officer/Vice President of Marketing Depending on company size, they may have VPs of specific channels (demand generation, product marketing, creative), and they set the strategy. Mid-Senior Level Team (Director or Senior Director) Titles: Director of Marketing, Director of Marketing Operations, Product Marketing Director, Social Media Director, Digital Marketing Director Directors typically report to VPs, and often manage entire divisions or teams. They are responsible for the day-to-day operations. Mid-Senior Team (Manager or Senior Manger) Titles: Marketing Manager, Social Media Manager, Digital Marketing Manager, Events Manager Managers typically specialize and are the day-to-day executors of what need to get done. Sometimes they will manage one person or have a small team. Junior Team (Analysts, Coordinators, Specialists, Assistants, Associates) Events Coordinator, Marketing Research Analyst, Marketing Analyst, Marketing Assistant, Marketing Associate, Marketing Coordinator, Public Relations Associate There are entry-level marketers who play a support role in achieving the greater marketing goals. Though it may seem like the hierarchy is well-established, it can vary. Each company is on its own marketing journey and a company’s priorities will match it. For example, if your company sells via affiliates or channels, there may be an entire marketing team to support the affiliate/channel motion. They will make different hires at different times. Responsibilities and seniority can fluctuate from one company to another. Because of this, your next title may be lateral, or sometimes a step back. In this case, it’s important to return to your career path intentions. If the position allows you to grow, it is a step forward regardless of the title. Salary grade is often tied to job title. This also varies depending on exact job responsibilities, industry and geographic location. Based on US national averages data from June 2023, GlassDoor reports that average marketing salaries can range from around $44,000 to $312,000. Salary ranges vary based on industry, location, experience level, education, and other factors. According to Indeed.com, the average raise for performance-based promotion is between 3-5 percent. So, if you’re a junior-level marketer making $56,999 and get promoted to a marketing manager role, it’s unlikely you’ll make that big jump to six figures. This is a crucial decision when deciding whether to take a promotion at your current company, or fill a role at a new company. 5. Consider generalized and specific marketing paths Marketers love to say that they wear many hats. One day they might be a designer, one day a journalist, and one day an analyst. When companies smaller and they are beginning to invest in marketing, they are often looking for the type of marketer that can do it all, or a generalist. Yet, at some point, too many generalists feels like too many cooks. When they start to grow, companies see the value of having a dedicated graphic designer, a content manager, a marketing analyst, a campaign manager, and/or social media manager, to name a few. A full-stack marketing team might consist of 10+ specialists with concentrated experience. Marketing specialties include digital marketing, content, search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click management, graphic design, public relations, brand management, product marketing, analytics, campaign management, email marketing,marketing operations/marketing automation, events, customer engagement programs, and sales enablement. In some industries, there may be even more. Most marketers spend some time as a generalist, and some time as a specialist. Often, generalist skills apply if you’re managing a team or heading up a department. Otherwise, special skills can take marketers far. If you’ve spent some time as a generalist, consider a role that will allow you to focus on a specialty. If you’ve been in a specialty for a long time, consider expanding your skill set by spending some time as a generalist. This will provide you with an opportunity to grow and become a more well-rounded marketer. 6. Decide on whether you want to work at an agency or in-house Marketers typically work in one of two environments. Agency marketers are contracted consultants who work with different clients to achieve specific goals. In-house marketers are hired by a company to run marketing programs full-time. Agency marketers and in-house marketers often call upon the same marketing management knowledge. Yet, each environment requires different soft skills to succeed. If you work in an agency, you’ll find yourself interfacing with clients. You’ll become a pro at communicating your process and results. Oftentimes, these jobs are less flexible because you’re working on your client’s schedule. Ensuring client happiness is just as important as marketing your product. You’ll also need the ability to switch gears often as you’ll likely work on more than one account at a time. You can often feel like you have a different job every day of the week – a quality that some love and others do not. If you’re a marketer working in-house, you have more flexibility. You have the ability to work on your own schedule to make sure your goals are met. You have the luxury of long-term thinking and making investments for the company’s future. Yet, in-house marketing also requires interfacing with your company’s senior leadership. It’s important to effectively communicate how your programs impact the bottom line. One strategy is to try working for an agency so you can sample a few industries and expand your network; then, move in-house with the industry that appealed to you the most in your agency life. Most marketers have a personality for either agency or in-house. It’s worth it to try both and see which is a better fit for you. 7. Identify your gaps in knowledge or experience How do you know if you’re a good fit for a new job? Review listed job descriptions on Indeed.com and LinkedIn. If you notice a certain skill or experience that you lack, note it. Some missing skills are deal-breakers. If you’ve never run a marketing campaign, you may not get a job as a marketing campaign manager. But, many listed skills are nice-to-have. Depending on the company, they may be willing to teach and train you on some of the less-crucial items. This is especially true for junior-level positions. To learn more about which skills are deal-breakers and which skills are nice-to-have, consider interviewing some people who are in similar roles. You can learn a lot from speaking to other people about their journey and the skills that they have found most crucial to do their jobs well. Regardless of the role you are applying to, an understanding of the data that drives team decisions is essential. Marketing is responsible for meeting their numbers and each sub-team has their contributions. You should be able to articulate the impact your work has on the bottom line in your current role, and what results you’ll be responsible for in your new role. Skill gaps are typical; no marketer can do it all, but every marketer should understand the numbers. 8. Consider options for filling a skills gap If you’ve noticed that one of your skill gaps is something that you want to fill, you have a few options. Do a project Let’s say your company has never had an event marketing presence, but you’re looking at jobs that require at least two years of event marketing management. How can you simulate the lessons that other marketers would have learned over two years? Consider an independent project that allows you to test this skill. Design an event plan that you can execute from beginning to end. Take on all responsibilities that an events manager would. This includes planning, budgeting, travel, copywriting, design, scheduling, engagement, and measurement. Doing an independent project has a slew of benefits. You’ll learn the ins and outs of the skill you’re trying to master. You’ll show a level of initiative and an ability to learn on your feet, which are great skills for marketers to have. Additionally, you may be able to show your passion for something you’re interested in outside of work. This can give the company a little insight into your personality and passions. Take a class For some skills, you may need more of a broad understanding rather than a specific experience. Let’s say you’re applying for a product marketing job that works with a product management team. The job may require some experience working with a product management team. This would be challenging to simulate with a project. Consider taking a course in product management. Sites like Coursera, edX, LinkedIn Learning, and a number of universities offer free courses at varying levels. These courses will give you exposure to the basics of product management. They may give you the opportunity to test some basic product management skills. Though this does not represent a replacement of the work experience, it will give you a foundational knowledge. It also shows an initiative for learning another part of the business. Earning course completion certificates and updating your LinkedIn profile with them is a great way to show potential employers that you are willing to learn. 9. Use your network and build a new one The marketing career path isn’t always a straight line, and neither is the marketing job application process. It’s rare to get a job going through the typical pipeline of sending a resume, getting an interview, and then getting a yes-or-no to the job. Because marketers are usually so embedded in their industry, there is an element of ‘who you know.’ Focus on connecting with other marketers. With the advent of remote work, we are lucky that many marketing networking groups have moved online to Slack, LinkedIn, or even the niche communities listed below. This makes the process of networking a little less time-consuming and a lot less awkward. Here are a few networking groups to meet others in the industry: BigSEO – for search engine optimization MKTG WMN – for women in marketing Online Geniuses – for tech marketing Product Marketing Alliance – for product marketing Vidico – for video marketing Content Marketing Institute – for content writers and managers Marketing Profs< – B2B marketing education community Join your college/university alumni networks and regional groups. Find mentors you can learn from, who can also help you make career decisions and introduce you to people in their networks. 10. Gather as much info as you can You can be the greatest marketer in the world, but if you don’t know anything about the product that you are marketing, you’re in big trouble. It’s even worse if you don’t know the industry or how your product fits into the market. Marketers need to invest time into learning about industries, products, and customers. Before pursuing a job at a certain company, reach out to some people that already work there. They can be part of marketing management, but you can learn a lot by talking to sales, engineering, or product teams as well. These conversations are easier than ever with the wide adoption of Zoom. Your contact can give you insight into how the company operates. They can also give insider information before you enter a formal interview process. Watch their marketing webinars on-demand to see what content is being disseminated. Follow the company on social media – both the corporate account and those of the leadership team. Check out their latest press releases to see what’s top of mind for the organization. This information will prepare you to have productive talks during the interview cycle. 11. Continue contributing to your current position There’s the old adage that “it’s easier to find a job when you have a job.” Finding a new full-time marketing job can feel like a full-time job of its own. Having networking conversations, doing research, scheduling interviews and doing sample projects are challenging and exhausting. Doing all this while you’re still committed to another job will make this a challenging time. Do your best to continue to be a responsible contributor to your team. You’ll spend evenings and weekends making up time and/or job hunting. Expect to feel a bit burned out during the process – that’s normal. You’ll feel a rush of excitement when it’s time to start at your new gig. 12. Try something outside of the traditional career path Some marketers will inevitably go from a coordinator to manager to director, and ultimately to a VP or CMO role. The linear career path always seems like the best way to advance through an organization and career. You learn a little more each year, keep getting promoted, and grow confidence in your work. Some careers take twists and turns. This can lead you to learn more about yourself, your interests, and what you want your journey to look like. As you meet more and more marketers, you’ll learn that the straight-and-narrow progression isn’t for everyone. Some of the strongest marketers have spent time outside of marketing. They come from a finance or creative writing background. They’ve taken hiatuses to work in sales, product, customer success, or even outside of corporate business altogether. By incorporating these experiences into their work, they were able to develop more nuanced perspectives on marketing. As sales and marketing continue to align, we are certain to see more overlap between the sales and marketing career paths. If you’re feeling like your career has stagnated, it may be worth taking a leap into a different kind of role. It doesn’t mean the end of your career as a marketer. Instead, it might make you a better marketer and provide you with more diverse experiences and opportunities to meet people and discover new interests 13. Make the move when it feels right There’s no need to keep to a certain schedule of promotions, advancements, and raises. For one person, a single position could be dynamic and challenging enough to keep them interested for many years. For others, a few months in a position may be enough to know it is not the right fit. Don’t succumb to an invisible competition with your peers in marketing for the ‘best’ title or the most money. In the face of this pressure, it is crucial to remember everyone is on their own journey. All companies are different and all jobs are different. The best way to be sure that I’m growing is by returning and reflecting on my own career goals. Conclusion Pursuing a marketing career is a rewarding and challenging journey. As you chart your marketing adventure, consider both following the established trails and finding a way to forge your own path. Digital marketing | Marketing trends | Remote work | Startups INSIGHTLY TEAM Insightly is the modern, affordable CRM that teams love. It’s easy to use, simple to customize, and scales with companies as they grow, solving common pain points that legacy CRMs can't. Powerful in any vertical, Insightly CRM customers can add companion products for marketing automation, customer service, and integrations in the same platform. Insightly is trusted by more than a million users worldwide.