You’ve entered the world of marketing and are kick-starting your marketing career. Fantastic! There is never a dull moment in marketing. However, you are also ambitious and want to move away from an entry-level position. You might be wondering about ways to accelerate the path to your first promotion in your marketing career. I’m here to share tips from the lessons I’ve learned.
Two years after commencing my B2B marketing career, I was promoted to a marketing manager at a hyper-growth IT company. It was a lot of trial and error but I managed to be promoted fast. I want you to progress in your career just as fast or even faster! Some things are just essential in a marketing career such as communication, getting out of your comfort zone, seeking education, collaboration, and skill development. Let’s take a closer look at each of these things.
1. Dare to ask questions
Juniors are often a bit shy to ask questions. It makes them feel incompetent when asking questions. However, this is mostly a mindset thing. Senior people understand that you don’t know everything yet. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, it shows people you are invested and looking to develop yourself.
By asking the right questions, you can challenge people and that is beneficial to any department or company. You have to realize that a company benefits from your professional growth. By asking questions and understanding the logic behind things, you will grow in your career. Also, you will be able to deliver more value to the company.
You need to understand how senior people think and why they make certain decisions. You need to understand the industry, the market and the goals of the company. Keep asking questions!
2. Get out of your comfort zone
Have you ever heard about the comfort zone? Don’t ever go there because it's a very dangerous place to be! The comfort zone is a place where little to no progression and innovation happens.
To learn new things and to develop skills, you need to be doing things that you haven’t done before. You will be in situations that you are nervous or insecure about and that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you will learn a lot from those situations and the more you do it, the better you become at it.
Be humble, open yourself up for feedback and tackle new situations. Sometimes it’s hard to force yourself to go out of your comfort zone. My recommendation would be to communicate your career aspirations to a senior colleague or your manager.
Your manager can help you to take on activities that are outside your comfort zone. They will be able to challenge you and this will help you to grow.
Many people don’t like to receive constructive criticism. No matter how smart you are, or at what career seniority, there are always going to be things that you can improve upon. Proactively seek feedback from your colleagues. Ask about your achievements but also explicitly ask about the areas of improvement. By understanding your areas of improvement, you can develop the skills required for the next career level.
3. Actively seek for external education
Most of your professional development will come and should come from working experience. However, external education is very important if you want to progress in your career.
By proactively seeking external education, your manager will see that you are serious about developing yourself professionally. Perhaps, you will also have internal courses available at your company. I’d still recommend seeking external education. It’s a different environment and you’ll get different perspectives than you would at your company.
A lot of marketers attend marketing events where keynotes and networking receptions are on the agenda.
Of course, this is very valuable but I’d urge you to seek training that includes workshops. Events mostly consist of keynotes and presentations. You’ll absorb a lot of theory but it can be hard to put into practice at your company.
The benefit of education through workshops is that you will first get some theory and then you’ll practice straight away. This helps to engrain the theory into your memory.
With such programs, you often will obtain a certificate at the end of the course. Naturally, this is something you can add to your CV.
When your company sees that you are ambitious and proactively seeking education, they will promote you before your peer that is just sitting back and relaxing.
A great way to stay up to date with industry trends is to look at online resources. You need to stay up to date about what is happening in your niche. For example, if you are in SEO, then the Search Engine Journal is a great resource for you to look at. If you are in B2B marketing, then Markletic is a great resource. By staying up to date about the developments in your niche, you can be innovative and drive more value for your company.
4. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
You’re going to make mistakes. There is no way around it, and that is okay!
Making mistakes is human and it happens every day at every company. It’s an integral part of learning and professional development. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my career from which I learned a lot.
That’s the thing though. You need to learn from your mistakes. Making mistakes is alright, but don’t make the same mistakes over and over again.
As a manager, I don’t mind that my team makes mistakes. However, I do care about the way they handle the mistakes and if they accept responsibility. When you make a mistake, own up to it and go the extra mile to minimize the impact on the business.
As a matter of fact, if my team is not making mistakes, something is not right. I want my team to be innovative and think of new ideas and campaigns that help drive more value for the business. That naturally means that a lot of experimentation is involved.
If you are not making mistakes, you are not moving fast enough!
Especially in competitive markets and hyper-growth companies, you need to stay innovative to maintain and improve your competitive advantage. By doing the things that everyone else is doing, you are not going to win the battle.
Experiment, make mistakes, take responsibility and learn from them. Don’t be afraid to fail, otherwise, you won’t get your first promotion in your marketing career anytime soon.
5. Collaborate with more experienced people
As a junior, almost everyone in your company is going to be more experienced than you. This is great because it means you can collaborate with a lot of people who will teach you things.
Collaboration is key to the marketing department. Often times, campaigns require input and resources from the various teams within the marketing department. For a campaign, you will need Field Marketers, the web team, the design team, the content team et cetera.
Use this opportunity to bond with people more senior. Try to find a mentor within your company and communicate your goals to this person.
Senior people have tested a lot of campaigns. They know what works and what doesn’t work. Try to see which skills they have and develop similar skills. Senior people will have a lot of knowledge about marketing that they don’t teach you in school.
If your company is international, then that is great! Definitely do collaborate with people from other countries as this will improve your cultural awareness. Being able to deal with different cultures is a very valuable skill to have.
Soak up the wisdom from senior people and find yourself a mentor. This will make you rise above the other and you’ll be looking at your marketing career promotion soon!
6. Develop skills for the next career level
At many organizations, there is a certain career ladder and career levels. Perhaps you are in career level one and want to move to career level 2.
Ask your HR department if they have a skill and behavior matrix. This matrix shows which skills you need to have and which behaviors you need to show to progress in your marketing career. Learn techniques such as programmatic advertising.
Analyze the skills and behaviors required for the next career level and train those skills.
Not all organizations have such a matrix, the next best thing you can do is to talk to your manager and see what skills and behaviors you need to develop to get promoted.
You should also be looking at what skills are currently missing in your team. It is very hard to find a perfect team with no missing skillsets. If you are able to identify the missing skills, then you should train those skills. This will make you more valuable to your company and it will be easier for you to get promoted. Some of the skills required in a B2B marketing career include analytical skills, communication, demand generation, and planning.
Getting promoted in your marketing career is not hard if you are doing the right things. I was able to be promoted to manager in 2 years and you can do the same!
Dare to ask questions, get out of your comfort zone, seek education, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, collaborate with experienced people, and develop the required skills. By doing this, you will be promoted in no-one. If you want personal advice on how to progress in your career, leave a comment below and we can chat.