Marketing as a sector is shifting very quickly, which presents both challenges and career opportunities. If you gravitate toward a career in marketing, then there are many different ways to break in and achieve success.
You can engage in formal marketing studies. This can be valuable in teaching you the principles and some core skills, may help you build a network and a portfolio, and allow you to explore different types of marketing. If you want to work with large companies, those businesses tend to prefer hires with formal marketing credentials.
However, many people come to marketing from a different background. Sometimes, they are formally qualified in another area, such as business, finance, engineering, or another type of production or professional skill. As you’ll find on the official website of Stan Gershengoren, he found his way into marketing from an academic background in accounting and leadership. Marketing should be integrated throughout healthy, high-functioning organizations, and often people with an interest in connecting with others and improving outcomes gravitate toward marketing roles.
To succeed in marketing, you need to narrow down what types of marketing you want to focus on, learn the relevant skills, study principles and strategies, and turn yourself into an authority on your chosen subject or competency. The great thing about marketing careers is that the same strategies that you use to help your clients succeed are the ones that you can use to grow your own career.
You need a broad understanding of different types of marketing and an authority-level understanding of at least one. You might focus on business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing, which is more retail and product focused. You might focus on a specific sector within those parameters. You will probably gravitate toward certain channels or technologies. Some people find that they really enjoy big data and the strategic side of marketing. Others enjoy producing creative assets such as graphics, videos or written content. You might specialize in direct email marketing, or social media marketing, or tradeshows and events.
The important thing is to niche down and build your skills to the level that you can become an authority in your area. This builds your reputation, increases your value, creates opportunities, and defines your personal brand. This is also one of the key ideas that you’ll communicate to your clients about their brands. It’s important to be the best at something. You narrow your focus (and increase your skills, services, products, etc., as appropriate) until you can stand out as the best at something. You then build your brand positioning around that one thing. Keep in mind that it needs to be something that your customers or clients actually want.
Your clients will want to become the best option for their customers. For your own career, you need to become the go-to authority in (at least) one thing that your clients and employer need and value. This is the number one way to grow your star as a marketer. You can bypass many other steps, skills and learning requirements by focusing on that one thing, as long as it matters to your employer and clients.
Your personal brand needs to communicate your expertise. It should be clear on your resume, website, social media profiles, online or print portfolio, and anywhere else that you might be visible or talked about. Clear messaging and positioning is just the start. You need to provide (or create) evidence of your expertise. Your evidence could be past projects to share in a portfolio, recommendations from past clients, feed curation, and/or subject matter expertise in written or recorded formats. In other words, show direct evidence of your expertise, share related content, and write or speak about it.
If you haven’t yet found your niche and cultivated your expert positioning, then you’ll want to start by identifying what’s valued by existing or potential customers or employers, and then voluntarily take on projects, self-study or formal studies, and learn that field. Share what you’re doing, talk about it, create content around it, and communicate its benefits. Generally, you’ll find that you’ve established yourself as the go-to authority on your subject of interest long before you feel like an expert.