Some of the common questions asked to a marketer in an interview are, ‘Where do you see yourself in next five to ten years? What are skills that you possess which other marketers don’t have? Why should I hire you?’. The most difficult questions for a beginner who is just stepping into the field.
If you are a beginner in the marketing field or hanging with cluttered thoughts in the middle of the marketing professional ladder, you have hit the right space. This is an honest effort to help you plan, build your marketing career and hone the essential marketing skills in every step of the career path.
Accidentally or on purpose, if you are entering into the world of Marketing, you must always have an open mind about every change. The marketing industry is always young and has always a something new and challenging to offer to the marketers. The Marketers must always need to evolve with the changing trends of the industry.
With the dawn of the vast influence of technology, the marketing field has become an alluring and a lucrative business segment for most of the budding non-technology professionals. Marketing professionals are no more just the ‘Marketers of the Business’. The glitzy and glorifying titles such as Social Media Evangelist, Conjurer of Communications, Code Ninja, Captain of Buzz, Viral Curator, etc., are the alluring attention catchers for the new generation to energetically step into the marketing world.
The life of a marketing professional is a bumpy ride filled with multiple roadblocks besides the C-suite parties and social business gatherings. A professional marketing course imparts the students, the ability to analyse the customer demand, match it to the business offerings and market it to the user. In the real world, the marketers need to think, realise and act at different levels of intellect. The road to the top might not be clear and structured path always, but there are certain standards of the marketing ladder, irrespective of the industry.
The last decade has witnessed a great evolution in the marketing landscape and changed the math of marketing. There are majorly two different aspects of Marketing such as Traditional Marketing or the Offline Marketing and the Digital Marketing.
Types of Marketing Niche
Presently, there are two major types of marketing ruling the business market. They are traditional or offline marketing and digital marketing.
Offline or Traditional Marketing
Despite the impact of the internet, the market studies reveal that even today traditional or offline marketing holds a significant space in the field of business. Even today, in the digital era, networking, having face to face conversations and meetings, cold calls, sponsorships, client associations, etc., mean a lot in the marketing field.
Online or Digital Marketing
On the other hand, the digital marketing or marketing through internet also holds good to target the audience who possess access to the smartphone internet technology. The webinars, content marketing, video marketing, email marketing, digital advertising, etc., have taken a substantial part of the marketing strategy.
Let’s dig deep into the Marketing Career Ladder and learn what, when and which skills are required at every stage of the career path. In a normal world, there are four standard levels in the marketing field. They are:
- Level 1: Marketing Executive and Business Development Executive.
- Level 2: Marketing Coordinator, Product Specialist, Marketing Analyst and Marketing Manager.
- Level 3: Marketing Head, Vice-President, Marketing, and President Marketing.
- Level 4: The Chief Marketing Officer.
(Disclaimer: This is just a general hierarchy. This could differ with the industry or the firm’s organisational structure policy).
Before we get to learn what are the skills required to succeed and grow with each level, here is a sound advice from most of the famous marketers and industry moguls.
Ensure you start your journey as a Marketing Intern with a business firm.
Yes! We completely agree with this success mantra. An internship in the field of marketing would give the budding professional an insight into the real world and the pros and cons of the marketing field. In short, it will question your passion for marketing and if you would want to really go ahead in this field. Even though it is a flexible career, it is a long-lasting desire of creativity and passion for the art of marketing that takes one up in the ladder.
Getting back to the real marketing ecosphere, let’s make a checklist of the activities and the necessary skills required to thrive as one moves up the ladder.
Levels of a Marketing Career and Required Skills
Level 1: Marketing Executive and Business Development Executive
The primary or the starting phase of marketing field is mostly as a marketing and business development executive. Most marketers in this level aim to maximise the profits by matching the consumer requirements with the products and in turn promoting it to the right target audience. In short, they oversee the marketing campaigns to promote the product and services, whether it is digital or offline. They work closely with the market research teams, advertising, sales, and production groups.
Some of the key activities performed are conducting market research, analysing the market data, designing and identifying areas and strategies for promotional activities, social media marketing, inbound and outbound marketing, etc. The vastness of the role depends on the size of the business organisation as well as the industry. The main purpose is to grasp the appropriate audience at the right time and bring the optimum return on investment.
A strong communication skill plays a vital role at this level since it requires to understand the mindsets of the audience, as well as work with other business teams. An eye for detail along with commercial awareness is definitely necessary beyond the technical know-how about the product. In the present day, business firms are recruiting professionals who possess sound creative writing and oral skills which influence the execution of the original marketing ideas.
Of course, one could specialise only in digital marketing and start their career as a social media project coordinator, digital media content curator, digital media analyst, etc. Most of the skills required are the knowledge of digital media platforms and use of SEO in the same. Though the initial level would apply to perform the basic tasks, the ride is tough as one is new and is tested holistically. Most marketers take usually 2 – 4 years to step up to the second level.
Level 2: Marketing Coordinator, Product Specialist, Marketing Analyst and Marketing Manager
A mid-level path of the marketing career. As a marketer, it is important to showcase the market knowledge and domain expertise at this stage. Beyond the ability to demonstrate a creative storyboard to market the product, one must be able to handle a team of marketing executive and ensure the business targets are met. The intellect to forecast the problems and be ready to tackle the same is very crucial. The ability to understand the changing needs of the audience, without actually interacting with them is an exceptional skill which most marketers need to demonstrate. One must use the inherent potential to exploit the opportunities and use the resources in the most efficient fashion.
As a Marketing Manager, whether it is digital or offline, one must function as a thread that puts a seamless knot between the upper and lower management, as well the consumers and the business. He or she must be able to analyse the products and services and identify potential markets to expand the business. Create an effective marketing plan, communicate the timely targets to the team, analyse the performance of the executives, supervise and coordinate other marketing activities.
The intellect to study and analyse the fluctuations of the market along with sticking to the business vision and organisation’s policies is a knack that comes with experience. The art of storytelling, sales skills, digital media knowledge, data analytics, and of course domain expertise are essential to growing at this level. Besides this, organisational and planning skills, communication skills, coordination, tracking and monitoring the data as well as the team, and the ability to empathise and strike a balance between the personal and professional needs, will aid in the passionate pursuit of the marketing career. It takes 5-8 years to become a marketing expert and oversee a specific team and their activities.
Level 3: Marketing Head, Vice-President, Marketing, and President Marketing
Typically, it takes almost 12 – 18 years to reach to the core of the Marketing team of the business firm. Marketing specialists in this phase are responsible for the developing and implementing a cohesive marketing plan to upsurge brand awareness, setting current and long-term business and marketing goals for internal teams, designing and reviewing the Marketing department’s budget. One is also entitled to build relationships with media and stakeholders through creative PR strategies, prepare regular reports and presentations on marketing metrics for the CEO and CMO. Forecasting hiring needs for the Marketing department and tracking the competitor’s activities is also a crucial task at this level.
This senior management role requires the skill to demonstrate creative and successful marketing campaigns, solid knowledge of the digital marketing effectiveness, strong and inspiring leadership and communication skills, and excellent analytical and project management skills. Above all, one must have the right strategic mindset, with an ability to make difficult decisions and quick solutions at the right time. In short, at this stage of the career, most marketers are the problem-solving specialists and strategic in their initiatives and thoughts.
Level 4: The Chief Marketing Officer
The road to becoming the Chief Marketing Officer of a business firm is challenging as well as risky. The CMO of a firm is a person who has the insight into the audience mindset as well as the business stakeholders proposition. As a CMO of the organisation, one is essentially steering the company’s marketing strategy through a future vision to the board of directors, embraces data and design, leads innovation and transformation, leverages the new technology, and thinks like a technocrat and content artist. In straight terms, a Sherlock Holmes of the C-suite who knows to handle the business officials to get his thoughts straight into their heads.
As a CMO, he or she must be creative as well as analytical. One must certainly own vast knowledge in different disciples such as production, information technology, legal, finance, and other creative aspects of the business. The CMO must be a master of the modern marketing tools and techniques along with the handling social gathering and talking business deals with just a few handshakes through exceptional convincing abilities. Strategy, collaboration, brand building initiatives and business expansion to global markets through exceptional stakeholder relationships are the core areas and skills required to be an effective and inspiring chief marketing officer.
Now that we know what the different roles and skill sets are required at each level, let’s see some of the core skills which one must hone and groom forever as it is required at all stages.
Marketing Skills needed for all Marketing Professionals
- Customer-centric approach
- The Art of Storytelling
- Networking and Collaborative Skills
- Communication Skills: Oral, Written, Verbal and Non-verbal
- Listening Skills and Offering Right and Productive Criticisms
- Data Analytics: Insight to understanding data and metrics
- Must be a Tech-Savvy with the Knowledge of Sales Process
- Sound Knowledge of the Changing Digital Marketing Skills and Public Relation Skills
- Management and Leadership Skills
- Strategic and Tactical Planning of the Marketing Initiatives
Ideas and Thoughts to help you move up in the Ladder
- Reveal the true and significant insights – Talk the Language of Data
- Think like a User and a Pro Executive Team
- Make Products and Services Effective for the Consumer
- Always have the Knowledge of Commercial Awareness
- Success or Failure – Document Every Move. Because Everything is a Lesson in Marketing
- Read and Stay Abreast of the Changes in the Marketing Field
It is difficult to set specific career goals for the marketers. So, it is important to balance and enjoy what you are good and the requirements of the profile. This would help run a long mile into the trail. Always ensure you possess a niche and you are a master at it. Get the right experience and learning. In the end, it is the experience that counts more than any degree.
The marketing career path has never been structured. With more experience, the roles and responsibilities evolve and get more tactical and strategic. The journey of approximately twenty years has rolled down with a unique path to test the patience and perseverance of the marketer to excel in this highly fluctuating field.
If you are wanting to step into this field, ensure you have an open mind and the flexibility to adapt your thoughts and philosophies as per the needs of the professional environment. Keep the professional and personal relationship separate. After all, this is one of the cut-throat business segments which makes or breaks the business.