You’ve officially decided to step into the dynamic world of marketing. Great…now what?
Like many who have stood in your shoes, you’ll quickly find that selecting marketing as your career choice is just the first step.
What area of marketing would you like to pursue?
In which industry and what size of company?
In what capacity within marketing would you like to work?
For newcomers, all of this can seem daunting. Never fear – we’ve outlined key points to consider to help you map the way.
Deciding between B2B and B2C Marketing
We’re all marketing to fellow humans right?
Not quite. While anyone can develop skills in both marketing to businesses and to consumers, any field practitioner will tell you that the jobs are very different. Deciding between B2B and B2C will dictate much of the strategies and projects you work on in your day-to-day.
In B2B marketing, i.e. marketing a product or service to other organizations, there is a heavy emphasis on lead generation, influencing sales pipeline, and alignment with a sales team.
“Any successful B2B strategy must be geared towards lead generation. It’s why 85% of B2B marketers say their central priority is to generate more leads,” remarks AJ Agarwal in his Forbes article.
Though psychological and emotional factors do play a part, they are not the stars of the show as is commonly seen in consumer purchases.
In contrast, when marketing to consumers (think P&G selling soap in the personal care aisle) it’s important to consider personal and experiential factors; buyer’s ego, store ambiance, seasonality – all these and more drive purchase behavior.
The Right Industry Can Make All the Difference
Industry selection plays a crucial role in your career. Some industries are skyrocketing, while others have a modest trajectory. The strategies, skills, and speed will vary based on volatility of the industry and the maturity of the market. While many skills that you acquire can be transferable to other industries, it is worth taking the time to study and make a deliberate industry choice.
The “Read More About This!” Factor
Here’s a quick way to gauge your own level of interest in a particular field. When you come across a topic, do you immediately think, “Hmm, I Want to Read More About This!” Curiosity is the root of interest, and if you feel compelled to learn more, you can be sure the subject will hold your attention.
Another method to get a feel for a profession is called the informational interview. Find someone doing the job that you want to do, and take them to lunch.
“Informational interviews are essential to helping you find out more about the type of industry, company, or role you’re interested in,” points out career expert Dorie Clark in her interview with Forbes.
Carefully design your informational interview to get the most insight while wasting little time. Find out how your interviewee got into that line of work, what he/she likes about the job, and any advice on starting out.
Check out this great article by the career addict to discover different industries and what each could offer you.
Which position will you play?
At first glance, the job of a marketer can seem nebulous. Marketing job descriptions can encompass everything under the sun (which is…sometimes true). But if you look at the daily activities of the members of a marketing squad you’ll notice distinct patterns. The roles vary greatly, and will require different skills and interests.
The makeup of a modern marketing team
- Design – Web, Graphic, UI and UX
- Content – Writer, Manager, Project, Social
- Online Marketing (SEO, SEM, Paid Media)
- Demand Generation and Marketing Operations
- Event Marketing
Web Design, Graphic Design, User Interface and User Experience
Great marketing will always be anchored by great design. Whether it is architecting a new website, advertisement, or an entire customer experience – skills in this area can carry a marketer’s career.
Today’s designers are increasingly more influential to the business, primarily driven by the need for customers to have a personal and remarkable experience when interacting with brands. The way your product packaging looks and feels, the usability of your mobile app, and that newsletter in your email inbox – all must be strategically designed to instill the right experience.
Most of the website and print collateral work will fall under the graphic design umbrella, but more and more designers are weighing in on User Interface Design (UI) and User Experience Design (UX).
Denise Lee Yohn describes it perfectly in her article for the Harvard Business Review:
” All the levers of customer experience — product, service, content, channels, touchpoints, pricing, facilities, sensory engagement, etc. — should be considered and described in the design.”
Content – Editorial, Social, and More
We now live in a content-driven economy. Brands are producing blog posts, videos, and even entire movies (The Lego Movie anyone?) to better connect with their customers. It can be confusing to distinguish between what is marketing and what is entertainment. But no matter how you look at it, you need to produce remarkable content to engage your audience.
Looking to succeed in content? Be ready to mirror the best practices of good journalism. Content marketers need strong writing skills and the ability to capture and communicate a great story. In addition, you will need a steady stream of content to make a difference in the long run.
“Brands need to take the phrase ‘acting like a publisher’ literally.” ~ Dietrich Mateschitz, CEO of RedBull.
Because content is the bedrock of any good marketing strategy, you’ll eventually need help to scale. That’s where writers come in; you can hire directly or work with well-vetted freelancers to round out your content program. Professionals in this “content management” role will be master planners and have the ability to instruct cross-functional groups to create content that is on brand and on message.
Here’s another component to think about – social media. Today, many businesses will have this role specialized to a person or team, but many of the qualities of a good social media marketer are shared with content marketing. Those with high empathy for their audience, quick to recognize trends, and always entertaining, will make effective social media managers.
Online Marketing (SEO, SEM, Paid Media)
The world runs on the internet, so if you have some online marketing chops you’ll always be in demand. With Google, Facebook, and other large platforms changing their algorithms on a weekly basis, it requires a designated person or agency to understand and be continually optimize your company’s website. Both SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) are valuable pieces of the puzzle. While SEO is a longer, harder process with results slow coming, the compounding effect of people finding your business organically can pay exponential dividends.
It’s strongly recommended that online marketing professionals study and earn both Google Analytics and Google Adwords certifications to fully understand how consumers are searching online and how to create a great ad experience. In addition, passion for data and testing is highly preferred. According to 60 Second Marketer:
“Marketers today have a different kind of job: collecting data, crunching numbers and statistics, deriving trends, targeting individuals (rather than masses) and finding the right channel among the hundreds to reach out to their target clients”
Demand Generation and Marketing Operations
The typical organization will have marketing on one side of the customer relationship spectrum and sales on the other. Marketing will drive the creative, messaging, and campaigns to generate awareness and interest, while sales’ charter resides at the bottom of the funnel to close deals. Demand generation and marketing operations effectively link the two, ensuring efficient lead flow from marketing to sales.
The focus of this role is to generate leads, nurture prospects, and orchestrate the handoff and overall interaction with sales.
In today’s digital age, demand generation professionals most often work with critical marketing systems such as a marketing automation platform (MAP) and a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM). Because the capabilities of these platforms is so immense, it is common that the owner/administrator of these systems oversee much of the marketing operations initiatives.
The right person for this job will have and for both marketing and technology, and must be able to learn various platforms quickly and be able to integrate them into a coordinated technology stack.
[Technology advances] hastened the shift toward corporations treating lead and demand generation as actual processes. This was a deceptively big shift in business strategy and management. Companies finally understood that the demand side of the value chain could be improved and optimized just like the supply chain, manufacturing, and finance were in the past. – Phil Fernandez, Founder of Marketo
More and more events are becoming central to driving new customer acquisition and creating memorable brand experiences. Whether it be strong presence at massive shows like Coachella or South by Southwest, or technology trade shows and conferences, marketing people need to head the game to make sure messages are heard and results are being driven.
Nothing will ever take the place of live events in the way they work. Webinars, reading, or listening to podcasts are good, but you can’t get the visceral experiences, the authentic connections, and the experiential learning that attending an event provides.” – Philip Rebentisch, AMA Los Angeles President 2016 – Present.
Event marketers should be able to grasp the big picture – such as overall event goals and brand awareness objectives, while at the same time be well organized and capable of supervising the many moving parts of planning and executing the event.
The Marketing Generalist
This type of role is common in startups and small business, and is basically a composite of all the above roles wrapped into one. Highly recommended if you aren’t sure what you want, if you like being a jack-of-all trades, and you like variety and challenge in your day-to-day work. In an example startup environment, marketing generalists also work closely with the executives and are keyed in to the major business objectives like growth, customer success, sales etc, so being in this type of role can also be a sort of all-around business bootcamp.
To sum up, put some thought behind which type, industry, and role in marketing you would like to pursue as that will greatly determine your enjoyment and satisfaction in your career.