How to stay ahead in your marketing career
Whether you’ve just started a new role; or are well-established within a company and perhaps thinking of a change, here a few pointers on how to stay ahead in your marketing career. Whichever point you’re at in your career, some of the key challenges you face remain the same.
I came across an article by Caroline Wilder, associate marketing director, export markets, at Kao Corporation which offers some really sound advice. I’ve included some of her ideas below:
1. Be heard
Senior management can learn lots from new starters – have confidence in yourself, and what you can bring to a company. New employees entering the workplace come with a different perspective, fresh energy and new ideas, so have confidence that your opinion counts. Don’t be afraid to voice your ideas – this is why they’ve employed you.
If you’re a graduate you might not have lots of work experience, but you do have a fresh and youthful perspective which can be invaluable. Some companies truly embrace this ‘young energy’ by setting up internal working groups to bring innovative ideas and solutions to procedures, routines, structures – if this hasn’t been done yet at yours – suggest it!
And of course you don’t have to be a graduate to have fresh ideas – wherever you’re at in your career staying up-to-date with the latest thinking, technologies, industry news and competitors is your key to bringing fresh ideas…and not going stale :0)
2. Value feedback and accept it as a gift
Positive or constructive :0) – feedback is invaluable. Someone sees your potential and wants to nurture that to its fullest – 360° reviews allow us to learn as much from those we lead as from those we report to. Be willing to listen, absorb and act on feedback to help grow your skill set.
3. Know your customer/consumer
Research budgets don’t always stretch to focus groups or usage and attitude surveys, but there’s a wealth of insight to glean by talking to those around you, spending time in the retail environment, and watching your customer/consumer in action. If you’re serious about making a difference to the lives of consumers, then you have to understand what makes them tick.
Take time to get to know your audience, and how they behave. This insight is invaluable and will bring fresh ideas for your marketing strategy.
It might sound daft – but sometimes people get lost in big companies, maybe departments don’t even talk to each other. This is as powerful a concept internally, as it is externally. If you’ve seen the programme, ‘Undercover Boss’, this takes it to the extreme – showing examples of ignorance between departments, but proves that insight into company workings, structure, process etc is powerful. It’s common sense really, but get to know as many of your colleagues as you can, whatever role they do,, one day you might need, their help, want their opinion or insight on an issue, or just a favour. Be receptive to others, and hopefully they’ll be receptive back.
5. Be your best
The world is small, networks cross; and continually grow and of course people talk. Always leave a good impression with former employers and colleagues, because someone, somewhere, at some point, will seek a reference. Stay in touch with previous work colleagues and friends – and grow that network!
Be your best, try to be thoughtful and considerate to everyone you work with, or come into contact with –at new supplier meetings, an industry event or seminar. Even when you’re travelling somewhere, you might be sitting next to someone that you’re about to have an interview with, unlikely but possible.
6. Be flexible, be open-minded
Many years ago I attended an interview that I didn’t really want to go to and dare I say hadn’t really prepared for, at a company I wasn’t overly excited about. On paper, it did not appeal and I very nearly didn’t go. In fact, I stood outside the building deliberating, and actually called my mum :0) – got some good advice, ‘you’ve got nothing to lose, be open minded’ – so I did and along I went.
Luckily I did, and I was pleasantly surprised, and ended up being offered the job, for a salary that I thought was beyond me at the time! Result – over five years at a company which gave me precious skills and experience that really set me up for where I am today.
Whether it is a personal endeavour or a business challenge, a successful marketer taps into his/her instinct to help shape decision-making.
and of course everyone knows it, but I have to mention it:
7. Build your network
Linked In has become part of our working lives – so make sure you’re maximising it’s potential for you, your career and your current company. It’s great for keeping up with industry news, colleagues – old and new, building partnerships; as well as discreetly keeping your ear to the ground, just in case your ‘perfect role’ becomes available – when you’re not looking! Often the way.
You can read Caroline Wilder’s full article: ‘Five ways to get ahead if you’re just starting out in marketing’
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