What Marketers Do
Marketers have many options when it comes to selecting a career path, but it generally starts with a decision to work freelance/ independently, for an agency, or in-house for a company.
Marketers who choose the in-house path work directly for the company they serve, interacting with many departments and the executive team to identify and develop the company’s core message for their products or services and turn it into something consumers respond to, so it drives revenue. When working for a smaller organization, marketers perform many duties, ranging from gathering market data and analytics, to devising campaigns, pitching ideas to execs, and carrying out campaigns. They may also work across a broad spectrum of channels, including traditional marketing mediums, such as print ads, broadcast media, and telecommunications, as well as digital marketing aspects, such as SEO, social media, and pay-per-click ads.
Larger companies that can support full marketing teams tend to carve out niche-specific roles for their marketing teams, so an individual may begin by working in a single area like social media, an analytical role, or a creative role like creating ad copy. However, these positions and the right training/ education also pave the way for advancement to management and executive roles within the company, so there’s lots of room to grow.
Who would enjoy a career in Marketing?
People who love the field of marketing tend to be both left and right-brained. On the one hand, they are deeply creative and come up with unique ways to get through to the target consumer. On the other, they must be analytical, know their audience well, be able to measure results, be mindful of budgets, and have in-depth knowledge of the brand, company, and product they represent.
Good marketers must also be resilient, as the ideas they pitch can sometimes be rejected and they may have to try many angles before they tap into an effective one. In addition, it’s helpful to be good with people and have an understanding of consumer psychology, as this will pave the way for winning pitches, make working in teams go more smoothly, and make it easier to connect with the target audience.
All marketers should be comfortable with technology, even if their focus is on traditional aspects of marketing. Having additional training in a specialty area can help a professional get in on the ground floor. Overall, it’s a good field for someone who wants work/ life balance as well, though there can sometimes be a crunch with extra hours being put in to ensure deadlines are met. Compared to agency work, in-house marketers also tend to report feeling more valued for their contributions.
Who mightn't like the career?
One drawback to going in-house is lack of varying and changing work, particularly for those who work for large companies. Because marketers have creative mindsets and like to be stimulated, performing the same tasks repetitively can become boring.
This tends to result in job-hopping, especially at the lower levels. Moreover, best practices in marketing are always changing, and new data as well as new technology are constantly emerging too, so the field may not be ideal for people who aren’t prepared to continue learning new things and experimenting with cutting-edge practices. It’s also worth noting that marketers tend to be particularly proud of their work, and put a lot of themselves into it. Having an idea rejected or a campaign fail to perform can make the career too emotionally draining for sensitive individuals.
While there are no degrees required to get into marketing, most people who get into the competitive positions offered by large companies have a degree related to marketing, public relations, or communication. Others with niche-specific training and certifications can also get into entry-level positions, but they usually need to go back and get a business or marketing degree to climb the corporate ladder later.
Candidates with experience should be prepared to share a portfolio of successful marketing campaigns, while those new to the field may wish to work as an intern to gain experience before applying for a permanent position. It’s also important to read up on the company one is applying to, to learn as much as possible about its internal process, products, target customer, and current marketing strategies beforehand.
Having an elevator pitch or coming up with a unique way to sell oneself as the ideal candidate will go a long way in these positions. Lastly, marketing jobs can require many different skills, and will vary from one opening to the next, even within the same company. For this reason, it’s essential to read through all job requirements thoroughly in advance to ensure the position is a good fit.
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Moving into Marketing from another career
One of the nice things about marketing is that almost any career can turn into a marketing career because every industry relies on marketers. For example, someone in the financial industry would be well-poised to take on an in-house marketing role for a financial services company, while a developer could market products for the tech industry, provided the individual picks up marketing knowledge through experience, coursework, and/ or certifications. However, those who have worked in a career which required some marketing or sales experience tend to have an easier time making the transition.
For further reading:
Marketing Specialist/ Marketing Coordinator
Role: There are numerous entry-level in-house marketing positions, and the titles will vary by company, as well as by specialty. Titles often have the name coordinator or specialist in them, and may include general marketing, aspects of digital marketing like social media, or event marketing. Core components of entry-level positions include administrative work, research, and supporting the needs of the upper-level marketing team members.
Role: In order to become a marketing manager, companies traditionally expect a degree in a field relating to management or marketing as well as 3-4 years of experience in the field. The manager is responsible for creating the overall marketing campaigns, breaking up tasks among the team, ensuring the campaigns produce the desired results, and managing the team of specialists. Like the entry-level positions, there are many management titles in marketing, such as advertising manager, public relations manager, brand manager, promotions manager, and community manager.
Role: Marketing directors generally oversee all aspects of marketing, including digital, print, media, or any other medium the company uses. They often come up with the overall concepts the marketing teams use in their campaigns, and work to ensure a cohesive branding effort is made. It’s also the director’s job to set budgets for marketing, measure ROI, handle all business planning as it relates to marketing, and oversee all staff below him or her. People may begin to qualify for director roles after 6-7 years in the field.
Vice President of Marketing / Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
Role: Vice presidents and Chief Marketing Officers are high-level executives who work even more strategically. They naturally oversee all aspects of marketing, but their core focus is on understanding consumer behavior, expectations, and ensuring that the marketing messages speak to both. They may conduct market research, observe trends, and help frame the general feel of the brand or products, covering everything from pricing to packaging. People usually have a minimum of 12-14 years of experience before they can advance to the VP level. Following this, some, but not all, companies also offer a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) position.
It’s common for directors and VPs to travel anywhere the company does business or is considering doing business, which could mean domestic or abroad. Those in lower positions tend to work out of a centralized office.
Marketing Specialist: According to PayScale, marketing specialists earn an average of USD$50,000 per year in the United States. In the United Kingdom, the average is £28,000, whereas salaries are CAD$51,000 and AU$63,000 in Canada and Australia, respectively.
Marketing Manager: USD$62,363, £32,183, CAD$62,215, AU$76,281
Marketing Director: USD$83,000, £68,073, CAD$85,300, AU$144,926
VP of Marketing: USD $138,620, £92,817, CAD$124,413, AU$161,500
Digital marketing professionals may increase their salaries by as much as 25% through bonuses, profit sharing, and commissions.
Why Marketers move on
In-house marketers sometimes become bored with the repetitive work and seek new challenges. Others have trouble advancing due to limited positions. In these cases, switching to agency work or moving to a new area of marketing may be enough of a change. Aside from this, the diverse range of skills marketing professionals pick up makes them well-suited to many careers related to business growth, development, sales, or communications.