Welcome to the second in our series of blogs giving you the lowdown on some exciting careers. This month, we take a look at marketing.
Myth busting – the commonest misconception about this job is...
That it is ONLY about being creative! Marketing is a broader, more strategic industry than many people realise. The Chartered Institute of Marketing (a professional body offering industry training and qualifications) begins its definition of marketing as, "The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably...".
Marketing involves a lot of analysis, planning, research and measurement, but it's perhaps understandable that when people think of marketing, they tend to think of the promotional side of the function - the activities involved in driving sales, which includes marketing communications, advertising, web and digital, PR and so on.
These activities have changed in recent years. Thanks to increasingly informed, savvy audiences, a lot of marketing communication today is about developing loyalty and creating an ongoing conversation with stakeholders and customers so they use your services or products. Sale messages are much more implicit and less of a "hard sell".
What qualities do you need?
Yes, many marketers are creative because it's marketing that is responsible for content, PR, design, promotional campaigns and so on.
But all marketers have to be good at working with people. Marketing is a highly collaborative job, working with other functions across a business, or working closely with clients. Marketers need be able to influence people, help them define what they want from marketing, give a good brief (perhaps to outsourced marketing agencies who may deliver specific work), sell ideas and tap into (and articulate) the expertise from around the business - say, for content, blogs or white papers.
Depending on your particular specialism there are many hard skills useful in marketing: strong writing, design and data analysis are just a few. (Marketers often review data to determine what has worked and what has not, and determine where corrective action needs to be taken.)
Marketers often manage a multitude of tasks, deadlines, stakeholders (customers and suppliers), content and tools at once, so strong planning and project management skills are useful, and an ability to hit deadlines is essential. Many marketers control budgets too; commercial awareness is a given with marketing, but financial and budgeting skills are helpful.
Above all, I think marketers need to be passionate. In order to help sell something or generate interest or loyal customers, they need to care about their product or industry, and that means taking an interest. They must love their customers too!
What qualifications are available/do you need?
There are many routes into marketing. A lot of people (but not all) begin a marketing career after getting a degree, with quite a few degrees considered relevant: Business Studies and (or with) Marketing, Communications, Digital Marketing, Computer Science, English/Creative Writing, Media – and more besides. Ambitious marketing professionals often choose to develop their skills with relevant Masters degrees.
It's common for marketers to gain CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing) or other professional qualifications in marketing. CIM qualifications include Foundation, Certificate, and Diploma in Professional Marketing. These are sometimes taken after a degree (i.e. part time study while in employment), or can occasionally be a stand-in for a degree. The Institute of Digital Marketing (IDM) also offers qualifications aimed at modern marketers.
A lot of the graduates we place in junior marketing roles have done a business degree with marketing, and we also see a lot of demand for people with marketing experience who are good at writing.
Agency or in-house?
Marketing requires a battery of highly specialist skills that not every business wants to maintain in-house on a full-time basis; it is often more cost-effective for a business to outsource marketing as and when it is needed. This in turn means that many marketers work for agencies, delivering marketing services to the agency's clients.
However, many businesses (especially larger ones) do have their own in-house teams, who in turn may outsource specific tasks or projects to specialist agencies. A mixture of agency and in-house experience on a CV is often persuasive - but by no means essential.
The rewards of the role
With its mixture of creativity, analysis and strategic planning, marketing can be fun, interesting and varied. Sometimes you might have to move fast to take advantage of market opportunities or jump on a good story that could make for a strong campaign, whilst at the same time you could be planning months ahead for a product launch, writing next year's marketing plan, or helping to develop a five-year strategy.
The collaboration involved in marketing can be very rewarding and you can develop strong relationships across a business or with stakeholders or customers. The sheer variety of marketing is something that many people find hugely appealing. Work in marketing and no two days will be the same.
The challenges of the role
Doing all of the above whilst juggling multiple deadlines, working with many stakeholders or customers and managing a number of suppliers can be stressful. Marketers have to be pretty resilient and very resourceful. It can be frustrating trying to factor in a lot of different people's feedback to your work and sometimes you have to draw a line and remind people that you know best. You also have to put a lot of work down and pick more up at the drop of a hat in order to react to market changes, new demands, news or events.
What's the pay like?
Salary ranges for marketing vary significantly depending on the region, employer and industry, to the point where it is very hard to define a "typical" salary for each level. Junior roles such as Marketing Assistant tend to start at around £17K; Marketing Executives tend to start at about £25K but can earn quite a lot more. Marketing Managers can earn anything from about £32K to well over £40K or £50K+ (depending on the factors mentioned above). Marketing Directors usually earn at least £60K and normally more, with salaries closer to £80K to £100K or more. Board level marketing strategists within large corporates can have salaries that dwarf this.
The specific kinds of job titles/activities available
Marketing involves a broad range of activities and therefore provides many career different options. It can encompass graphic design, digital (email, social media, web, online content, Search Engine Optimisation and Search Engine Marketing), communications, branding, PR, strategy and planning, budgeting, events, new product development, advertising and more – each with its own sets of skills, some of which overlap. Marketing generalists (executives, managers and directors) are often effectively project managers with marketing-specific skills who pull some or all of these elements together.
You'll like this job if you are...
Creative, energetic, bright, analytical, ambitious, collaborative, sociable, organised, passionate, a believer.
This job might not be for you if you are...
Pessimistic, antisocial, uncreative, uninterested in the bigger picture.