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?
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 What worked last year may be out of date this year.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.
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.
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.
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.