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5 Tips To Move Up The Marketing Career Ladder

Repost of our CEO Adam’s blog post  setting out his thoughts on how to move up the marketing career ladder.

Marketing and Communications is in the midst of a new era. There has, quite simply, never been a more exciting time to be in this space though it comes at a time when the next generation of marketers are less focused on career progression and more focused on work life balance. Not necessarily a bad thing but how do those with ambition navigate through the challenges of an era of change, innovation and re-modelling? Here are 5 tips to think about:

1. Ask questions

This is not a time to follow, it’s a time to lead. And sometimes the best way to move forward is to ask questions about the past. Why do we do it that way? Is that the best use of our budget? Will it lead to a commercial output? Often marketing can be hindered by habit or ‘old school’ thinking. The time is right to challenge that thinking and find more cost effective routes to market. We all know integration is key. This must happen internally (through structure, team work and incentives) as well as externally connecting big ideas across multiple platforms. If there is currently a lack of integration in your business, ask your leaders why and how to resolve this. A lack of integrated thinking and a silo’d marketing approach is the biggest waste of opportunity currently in our business.

2. Embrace change

Human nature dictates that some of us can deal with change and others find it less comfortable. Comfort zones aren’t healthy or conducive to progression. Change leads to different thinking, fresh approaches and renewed vigour. That’s not to say stability isn’t necessary at times, but if you’re experiencing change in your business, consider what the opportunities are, not the short term effects

3. Take risks

This one has a caveat. Risks should be smart and calculated. The very nature of a risk however means that mistakes can and will be made. A strong leader will understand the importance of making mistakes; learning. Only through taking risks and sometimes making associated errors can we learn how to do things better. It is human nature to err. If you learn a valuable lesson there can arguably be more value in making a mistake than towing the line. Whatever you do though, don’t make the same mistake twice

4. Focus on the bottom line

The macro economic environment has had an incremental effect on marketing. Gone are the days of over spending, investing without justification or duplication of cost. Finance and procurement teams have greater control and the microscope hovers over each and every cost based decision. This forces marketers to think about ROI and evaluating the commercial impact of marketing expenditure. Believe it or not, it wasn’t always this way and this does not sit comfortably for many. Influencing stakeholders within your business and justifying spend (and sometimes your role in the business) will be second nature to any new marketer. Turning this into a positive, this gives you access to stakeholders at the highest levels and allows you to display your skills in articulation, negotiation and commercial impact. It’s a sink of swim environment and the strongest swimmers always win the race. It’s time for politicians and those that falsely claim responsibility for success to take a back seat. They should get found out very quickly in todays market and certainly in tomorrows

5. Balance instinct with science

This used to be a business driven by instinctual marketers. But how do you justify spend through instinct? This brought about a new wave of scientific marketers who use data to prove the commercial impact of every dollar spent. The truth sits somewhere in between. Data and insight can validate instinct but it can also highlight a nugget of information that presents a blind spot of opportunity or lead to a bigger more widely integrated idea. The very best marketers will have strong instincts but will be unafraid to lean on data or their team at every level to bounce ideas off.

Some of these 5 points may not necessarily be a preference for everyone. Some thirst for change whilst others are naturally more risk averse. Some thrive on instinct whilst others require data to help drive the decision making process. That said, preference doesn’t mean you need to be wedded to those ideals. You can challenge preferences and embrace alternative ways of thinking. To become a fully rounded marketer, you must do this.

Written by Adam Rubins
April 28, 2015