The most successful people in the marketing industry are always seeking ways to progress their careers and make their marketing more effective. Long term success in the marketing profession requires a planned approach to career progression and an unwillingness to stagnate.
Here are some considerations and best practices to think about in relation to your career in marketing.
- Think like your Client: The most important long term strategy for a marketing professional to advance their career is to always think like your client. Many times, digital agencies and even internal in-house marketers feel that their interests are not well-aligned with the department or company paying the bill for the campaign. For example, digital agencies need to be compensated on total spend, not performance, and in-house marketers are dependent on internal budgets to execute their jobs effectively. It’s easy to feel that your success is more about your personal career than the success of your marketing campaigns and initiatives. Remember to constantly inspect the performance of your marketing initiatives themselves – gauge yourself on this metric, not on whether or not you just received a promotion or bonus.
- Find Your Ideal Customer: This is commonsense advice, but when you’re putting together print ads or a marketing pitch, it can go much more smoothly if you imagine that you are talking to just one person. Take the time to figure out who is the ideal person to help you achieve your goals. Who can facilitate the changes you want to see within a company? Who will be buying the product or using the service that you are marketing? Armed with the idea of your ideal person, you can focus your marketing efforts. But additionally, know the ideal customers that you know best. For example, if you’ve had success marketing to CIOs or perhaps mobile consumers in the state of Georgia, understand that success as a real career skill. Leverage each past customer success in your new campaigns, and try to constantly expose yourself to new customer demographics and target markets.
- Don’t Get Complacent: It can be nice to have a solid position with great benefits and a regular paycheck, but that cushy job in marketing can lead to complacency and a decline in skills if you’re not careful. While you may impress your boss by not questioning the accepted ways of doing things and being competent but boring, you will be doing your marketing career a disservice. In order to stay fresh in your career and push the envelope to get outstanding results, sometimes you have to question orders and shake things up. If you are not constantly taking on new challenges, getting exposure to new clients and markets, it may be time for a new position. The key to understanding complacency is to judge your learning experience, not your salary or job. If you aren’t constantly learning, your marketing skills will decay.
- Take Risks: Many marketing campaigns flop because the professionals running them are afraid of failure, and so they won’t take a risk on a new technique. You can’t just use the same old tricks over and over again. Sometimes you have to try new things and take risks in order to succeed. Don’t let the fear of failure hamstring you in your marketing efforts—try something new! Even if you fail, you can learn from the experience. Try to work “controlled failure” into your corporate planning. Take small, measured, and controlled risks and then use the data to make smarter decisions. A long term successful career in marketing is usually paved with lots of small failures.
- Avoid Analysis-Paralysis: Having solid industry analysis, models and metrics can be a great thing, but don’t get locked up analyzing a market or a problem to death. If you over-think a problem, you can’t move forward and find a solution. While it’s great to have the most up-to-date information and to thoroughly think through a situation, you need to give yourself to make a decision and take action. Bleeding-edge marketing techniques are of course not always recommended, but forcing yourself to be entirely data-dependent and analytical will block out many new and effective methods and mediums.
- Keep Learning: The marketing industry is always changing and evolving, and if you can’t keep up with current trends, you will be left behind. You have to keep learning to stay fresh in marketing, and not just about marketing topics. Read, research, seek out new knowledge, follow your interests—just keep learning so that you can stay interested and develop your career.
Marketing can and should be one of the most dynamic professions. You have the chance to effect consumer behavior, model the growth of companies, shape industry demand, and think about basic human emotions and needs. With careful planning and calculated risk taking, your career in marketing will always keep you interested and taking on new challenges and opportunities.