The Different Stages of a Marketing Career
Choosing a career in marketing is becoming increasingly popular, especially with younger generations. With so many young people in the workforce now being a digital native, they have an advantage over people who have been working the marketing industry for years. One example is that many new entrants to the industry already know how social media platforms work where some industry veterans are still trying to catch up.
Despite younger people being more skeptical about marketing and being very protective over the data they provide to advertisers and now social media platforms, there is still a large number of people who want to make a career being a successful marketer.
Most people who are successful marketers have a mixture of experience and qualifications. Some marketers at the top of global organizations are likely to have an MBA or a masters degree. Achieving these qualifications is tough, and it’s rare that they can be gained without any real-world industry experience due to the practical nature of the qualifications. Most people will gain an online masters in marketing while working in their day job as a manager or director, for example.
Typical Marketing Attributes
Marketing is a very creative industry; therefore, it requires a professional to be able to come up with new campaigns, slogans, and original work. Depending on the company you work for, and the position you have, it may not be a regular 9-5 job either. You could see yourself travelling all over the world, giving talks at conferences and even meeting celebrities and brand ambassadors.
Due to the increasing nature of the digital world, one of the many skills that modern marketers need is having an analytical mindset. Being able to identify and spot trends and patterns in data and customer behavior is one thing; knowing how to use that information effectively is another.
Another essential attribute that a marketer should have is being able to learn quickly. Algorithms are always changing, and advertising best practices are updated all the time. Being aware of what these changes are and how they will impact your business or your clients is vital.
There are also many systems you are likely to have to use like Customer Relationship Management systems, Email Automation Software and Google Analytics. If you choose to specialize in copywriting, for example you will also need to be very knowledgeable about Search Engine Optimization and website design.
The first job that many people are likely to have in their marketing career is as a marketing assistant, coordinator or administrator. This is an entry-level position and will put you at the heart of the marketing team. It very much a ‘doing’ job, so it’s great for learning the basic principles of marketing and getting familiar with the different systems your company uses. People generally stay in this role for 1-2 years before moving on.
Typical jobs that a marketing assistant may do include:
- Updating website copy
- Writing blog posts
- Updating social media
- Attending trade shows
- Preparing bulk email mail-outs
Moving into a marketing executive position is the natural next step from being a marketing assistant. As well as earning a higher salary, you will be given more responsibility within the business. By this point in your career, you will have the fundamentals of marketing in place and will begin to use that knowledge to make decisions.
Where a marketing assistant will simply follow the strategy and do more straightforward marketing tasks, a marketing executive will be given some autonomy to provide recommendations. Reviewing existing activity and advising on what to do next is a vital part of the marketing executive role. A marketing executive may work for 2-3 years in this role.
By the time you are ready to step up to become a marketing manager, you will likely have between 3-8 years of experience in the marketing industry. This is a crucial point in your career as you can choose to specialize at this point.
Being a marketing manager can mean managing a team of marketing assistants and executives, so it’s important to have honed both your marketing and your people management skills before you move into this role. You will have responsibility for making sure that the strategy is working and taking action if it isn’t. You may be responsible for reporting to senior management or directly to the board in smaller companies.
The other alternative is that you are not managing anyone, and you are managing a specific area of marketing. This could be as an email marketing manager, a social media manager or a customer relationship manager. It’s a great opportunity to really specialize in a certain area and make a name for yourself in your chosen field of marketing. Marketing managers can spend from 5 years to their whole career in a management position at different companies.
Senior Marketing Manager
Senior marketing managers have a big responsibility for the whole marketing team or a few different areas of the marketing team. Senior managers can be managing teams anywhere from 10 to 30+ people. This again could be broken down into smaller teams, such as social media, PR and advertising.
As a senior marketing manager, you are likely to be paid a very good salary that reflects the responsibility you hold. Where a manager may be responsible for one area, a senior manager is responsible for 2-3 areas and so must be at least competent in these areas which come from years of experience.
You are likely to be reporting directly to the board or the marketing director, so being a great communicator and being able to hold your own and be assertive is vital. Your team will look to you for support and guidance, and you will be ultimately responsible for their progress and wellbeing.
Marketing Director and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
At the very top of the marketing career ladder, you are likely to find a marketing director or a CMO. These people are fully accountable for defining and building a marketing strategy for the whole business.
They tend to deal with individual people less than managers and will usually only communicate with senior management. That’s not to say they should be approachable or accessible should you need to speak with them directly.
Being a marketing director or CMO takes years of experience both in marketing and in business. It’s not a job you can just walk into after 4 or 5 years in the industry. Many will have to prove their worth in multiple rounds of interviews before even being considered for a job and most high-profile hires require an MBA or masters degree.