accelerate your career as a marketing manager - image shows people running in a race, with a clear leader

How to accelerate your career as a Marketing Manager

Posted by Sam Beddall Picture of Sam Beddall on 28 December 2023
Marketing copywriter specialising in writing about technology, marketing, branding, strategy and thought leadership for Articulate Marketing.
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You’ve landed the big job. You’re a marketing manager in your dream industry. That’s you in all the big meetings, presenting to the C-suite monthly, with a talented team on your side. Things are going well.

But what’s next?

Growing your career as a marketing leader is a challenge that requires unwavering focus, but don’t worry. Follow the tips below (curated by marketing agency veterans) to get off to a running start!

Be honest about your starting point

Forget about audiences, personas, click-through rates and CRM systems for a moment... the road to career growth as a marketing manager begins with yourself.

It goes without saying that you want to move up and make an impact, but are you ready? Do you have the core skills to do so? The temperament? The grit?

Humans have a built-in tendency to overestimate our knowledge and underestimate our ignorance (the Dunning-Kruger effect). Former US Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld encapsulated this challenge when he said: “There are unknown unknowns, things we do not know we don't know.”

To build and grow your marketing career, you must take stock of your current situation with complete intellectual honesty.

What parts of the job are you good at? What parts could you improve? What parts are you completely ignorant of? (Hint: ask your boss.)

Create a matrix that highlights your strengths and weaknesses, then begin systematically listing areas of improvement. Does your public speaking need a tune-up? Does your knowledge of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) need an upgrade? We’re fortunate to live in a time when courses are available for any and every skill. By taking stock in this fashion you can begin to build a personal ‘training programme’ that will not only further your career but develop your overall value as a member of your team.

The journey begins with honesty and humility.

Stay current with marketing trends

Marketing is a fast-paced industry that changes constantly. What worked last year may be out of date this year.

It is not a job where you can rest on your laurels.

Are you on top of advancements in core marketing areas such as SEO, content marketing, online advertising, social media and data analytics? Developing this awareness gives you the advantage of speed and accuracy when executing your latest marketing strategies – and speed is often the deciding factor in our 24/7 ‘always on’ culture.

Educate yourself on new tech, too. New updates from leading marketing and sales platform HubSpot and learning about generative AI software will also give you a competitive edge.

If you’re not sure where to start, sign up for industry newsletters from HubSpot, SEMRush and Ahrefs. These short missives are easy to digest and can help you build the habit of learning into your day-to-day. If your company is willing, consider premium training programs such as Mark Ritson’s Mini MBA in Marketing and the free HubSpot Academy for some serious knowledge ‘gains’. And there’s the Articulate blog, of course.

Develop strong analytical skills

Gone are the Mad Men days of drinking whiskey at work and coming up with ideas out of nowhere before a long lunch. Today, businesses want to see data and actionable insights.

To reach the upper echelons of marketing you need to be able to analyse marketing trends, delve into consumer behaviour and report on campaign performance.

This means understanding the software that powers the data. Dive into HubSpot’s CRM, Klaviyo email automation, Ahrefs and Google Analytics to create strong marketing based on facts and not assumptions. Once you know how to read the data and do so on a consistent basis, you’ll be able to spot trends or unusual events and react accordingly.

Don’t forget about soft skills

In Scott Adams’ book Reframe Your Brain he introduces a concept called ‘talent stacking’.

The basic idea is to learn and combine complementary skills that will give you a unique and valuable position in your chosen industry.

To become a marketing leader, you must combine complex analytic knowledge with softer skills like communication. Knowledge workers also report that effective communication improves both job satisfaction (56 percent) and relationships with colleagues (54 percent).

Being able to present and communicate complex ideas and creative concepts with simplicity and elegance will set you apart from other marketers (and other industry peers in general). Becoming articulate is a superpower.

The Complete Public Speaking Masterclass by renowned communications expert TJ Walker is a great place to begin.

Set clear goals and KPIs with your leadership team

Many marketing careers have foundered on the rocks of unclear strategies and objectives. As a marketing professional, it’s impossible to progress if you are not sure where you are going.

Engage in clear communication with your leadership team from the beginning. Have an intimate knowledge of the business strategy and the objectives you are expected to achieve. Don’t delay it and find yourself in the awkward situation of having to ask a basic question far too late into your tenure.

Develop solid and achievable KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) with your leadership team. This will not only help you sharpen your skills and stack up some ‘wins’, but it will also keep you and your team motivated when times are tough, budgets are cut or larger competitors are outgunning you.

Being a ‘doer’ and not just a ‘thinker’ is crucial for marketing mastery (and recognition from the C-suite).

‘Every big job – whether it be operating a business, high-level selling, in science, the military, or the government – requires a person who thinks action. Principle executives, looking for a key person, demand answers to questions like “Will she do the job?”, “Is she a self-starter?”, “Can he get results, or is he just a talker?”’

— David Schwarz, The Magic of Thinking Big

Leverage agency partnerships

As an in-house marketing manager, taking advantage of the expertise available in successful marketing agencies is what you call a ‘shortcut’ to success – and a great vehicle to progress your career.

Marketing agencies exist to bring clarity and creativity to your marketing efforts. They will not only inject new energy and ideas into your strategy, but will help you expand your skillset, build a strong network and gain industry insights from experts on the frontline.

If you’d like our support to refresh and reinvigorate your brand, positioning or campaign effectiveness, why not get in touch for a quick chat?

Time to do the work

Your first day as a marketing leader is here. Follow the steps above, build powerful ‘talent stacks’ and take your industry by storm.

With constant learning, a willingness to accept criticism and powerful habits at your disposal, your next promotion is not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’.

We look forward to seeing ‘Marketing Director’ listed on your LinkedIn soon!

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