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6 Tips for Growing Your Marketing Career

By Angelica Fierro on

On this episode of The Marketing Cave, Carter shares his 6 tips for growing your marketing career. Where you want your career to go is the foundation, but there is more to it than that. 

There are some key questions you need to answer, and some fundamental skills you need to spend time developing in order to grow your marketing career. If you’re wanting to progress and improve as a marketer, this episode is for you, homie!


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Here is the transcript:

Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of the Marketing cave. My name is Carter on this episode we're talking through six tips for growing your marketing career. So do you want to be on the in house side? Do you want to be agency side? And what does either of those mean for what your day to day actually looks like? How do you get exposure to the skills that you need for your future if you're not learning them in your current role? And then just some tips from my experience of ways that you can kind of expedite your career growth. So that's what we're talking about this episode. Let's do this.

Okay, so number one first thing on the list and it's kind of sets the tone for the rest of the conversation or the rest of this podcast. But really, the first thing is like you need to understand what are your career goals. Now this especially applies to someone who's more early on in their career or just just getting started, but it also still applies for you if you've been in the workforce for a while, and you've had a marketing career of some sort, but you haven't taken the time to really think about what is my future look like? So it just really means like sitting down and thinking about where do you want to be in your future? Where do you want to be five years, 10 years, 15 years down the road, and really kind of putting up you know, a metaphorical sign on the wall with that job title on it, or that role on it and just saying, okay, every time I make a career decision, or wherever I'm trying to figure out the next step for me, look at that, that sign on the wall and say, does this decision make me closer to that or further away from that is it's going to guide me toward that that five year goal, that 10 year goal, or is just going to detract from where I'm trying to get to and kind of let that be your guiding light when you're making career based decisions.

So I posted about this on my LinkedIn recently, and I really was just talking about questions that I felt like I really needed to answer early on in my career so that I could really get to where I wanted to go and figure out what that trajectory would be to kind of get to that job title or that role that I that I really felt like I wanted to be in my career. So there's a couple of simple questions that I think you should at least answer when working through this goal exercise. So the first question is, do you want to just specialize in one channel or one skill set? Or do you like to get exposure to a variety of different different skill sets, different marketing channels? The second question is, do you want to focus on just one client or one product or service? Or do you want to have an exposure to a bunch of different industries and verticals and work on a on a handful of different clients so that you kind of have exposure to a bunch of different things and I would also think even further down the road, do you want to be able to lead a team in a certain area or an entire department of marketers do you want to be able to run an agency or being senior leadership in agency? All of those different questions will help you kind of hone in on where you should live in your career. And what I mean by that is do you do you feel like you fit better and the agency side or on the in house marketing team, so there are pros and cons to the in house team and and the the agency side right and depending on the answers to those questions that I just asked, that should help guide you which direction you might want to go.

If you answered that you want to do a bunch of different channels and a bunch of different clients and a different bunch of different industries and verticals, it's definitely the route you should go and be agency side, if you want to focus on one product or service, maybe focus on just one channel or maybe get exposure to multiple channels. But if you really want to hone in on one product, one service one client, if you will, you definitely want to be on the in house side, the agency side as far as variety of skills, verticals, industries can vary by agency, right? So that's something to think about when you're applying for jobs or interviewing. That's a question that you should be asking, what's your agency structure? Do employees get to work on multiple different clients? Is it one client? Do they get to work in multiple different verticals and channels? Can you can you do paid search paid social and display? Are you strictly working on one of those channels and nothing else? That will really help you determine what agency what job title what role makes the most sense for you. I would also say the agency life can be a little more fast paced, sometimes there's a little bit longer hours a little bit crazier requests. And then I would say that the in house teams move a little bit slower, it's a little bit more methodical, there's a little bit more red tape typically. So really understanding what that agency structure looks like. And then what the actual in house team looks like will help you understand if you're going to get exposure to multiple different channels or not. And then if you're also going to get exposure on the agency side to two different verticals and industries.

So specifically for us as an agency and this is nothing that is that is new or unheard of, but we kind of go with the the cluster or pod approach. So at our agency, you'll be focusing on one major skill, but you'll get variety of clients under your under your umbrella. So you'll be working on three or four different clients, different verticals, different industries, and applying kind of your same roles, responsibilities to those. And what that allows for is allows our team to look and see what's working in different verticals in different industries. And can I apply that to my other clients that I'm working on it also allows you to really hone in on a few brands, a few clients a few products a few services and that helps us to let them not get to spread thin we really can hone in on on those clients that we work on a know their buyer personas in and out and know their goals really well and understand their business at a very, very detailed level.

So for me personally, I kind of struggle with this early on, because in my first job, I got exposure to a lot of different clients. And I really enjoyed that it kind of made me stay on my toes a little bit, I was a little bit more variety. Throughout my week, I got to jump around amongst different clients. And then when I moved into my second role at a performance agency, it was so honed in on one channel and one client. And that was great because you got really good in depth knowledge of that specific channel for that clients. But as I started to look forward in my career and where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do, I realized that it wasn't going to benefit me if I only knew how to do one piece of marketing if I only was an expert in one channel. I knew that I wanted to be you know leading a team of marketers or running a marketing department. I didn't want to just be a VP of one channel or a director of one channel, I wanted to be over everything because I felt like there was a higher ceiling there. And it really became a pain point or a struggle for me because I constantly was asking, Can I get cross training? Can I go shadow another team? Can I go sit with the the paid social team can I go watch how the SEO team works. And I was always given some red tape or whatever the excuse that it was that they wouldn't let me cross train, they wouldn't let me move into other teams to even just see how other things were done. And that was really frustrating. And that ultimately led to me, me leaving a great agency with a lot of really great co workers, but I knew I just was not going to get the exposure and the skills that I needed to move forward in my career beyond one certain channel.

Now, there were other things that I was doing on the side while I was there to help develop some of those other skills, but that's for a little bit further in this conversation. So I also want to expand on this a little bit more there was an executive that I knew that was the president of an agency, but he had come up entirely on the paid media side. And I remember asking him I was like how do you get to a senior person like this only having experience in one channel, and he was pretty honest with me, he was like, You know what, honestly, I struggled the first two years that I was in this role as the president of this agency, I really had to dig in and go back to the basics of all the other channels and service offerings that as an agency we offer that I hadn't done before. So it was very clear to me that it was a detriment to him that he didn't have exposure to all those other channels. That was impressive for him that he still arose to that president ceo level of an agency. But it was definitely a struggle for him in the beginning to get a really good understanding of all the other channels and service offerings that this agency had, because he hadn't been there. He hadn't done it, he hadn't been in the trenches. And that ultimately was a struggle for him to kind of get up to speed on all those other things. So to wrap that up, that's the biggest one, figure out what your career goals are going to be and then make decisions that will get you to that goal, whether that means being an in house team and agency team, maybe doing both to get exposure to how both things work. That's the route that I took when you're making those career decisions. You want to be looking at that that goal that you've set and making sure that decisions you make align with that trajectory of where you want to go.

Okay, so here's number two, and I'm calling this a little bit of you need to fail. And a little bit of you need to have a side hustle, if you will. And and to be honest, I think people who call it a side hustle, it's just a cooler way of saying, Hey, I'm going to try something that probably I'm going to fail at. And honestly, that's a good thing. That's the whole point of this number two, right, you need to fail. And the reason that I say you need to have a side hustle, or you need to be trying something on the side is because I literally wouldn't be in the position I'm in if it weren't for the side hustle, or the passion project or the things that I was doing on the side to develop skills that I wasn't getting in my day to day responsibilities. So just a couple examples of that. So I started a YouTube channel and was it successful? No, absolutely not. But that's how I learned to use cameras to use lighting equipment microphones to learn how to how to use editing software and learn how to talk into a camera, all of those things that are directly benefiting me now in my career. And I say that because as an agency, we do a good amount of photo video work for our clients and I oversee all of that for us. And that's a skill that I absolutely would not have would not be comfortable in had I not made a crummy YouTube channel and tried to vlog a little bit

A second example that I want to give. So I started a website that in my mind, I wanted it to be like this creativity hub and I named it egg barrel. And I you will never know why it's called that because I don't know why it's called that. That's a story for a different time. But what this website was is I was just interviewing creators and creative people and asking them about their passions and their process. And I would do a quick interview and I would show a bunch of their work. And I spent a lot of time on that. And it never took off and never like got a ton of traffic. So I guess you could consider that a fail. But there were some other things that I benefit from I learned how to build and manage a WordPress website, I figured out how to run Facebook ads to promote my content. I learned how to set up affiliate marketing links and how to write social media copy and how to network and interview people and how to find those people to be featured on that website. And I don't think I really need to explain what all of those skills are beneficial in someone's marketing career. So those are two examples of things that I did on the side that were completely passion projects, but I directly benefited from them in my career now and I definitely would not be where I am without having those side hustlers that absolutely failed. So, have a side hustle, have a passion project, do something that that is expanding your skills that you're not getting in your day to day. And even if you fail, I guarantee that you will be better for it.

Okay, number three, learn how to speak, communicate present effectively. This is one of the biggest things I think people complain about millennials is just their inability to communicate and to make a connection with people. So it's one of those skills that you really just have to spend the time to develop. So it's not something that comes naturally to everyone. It takes some time. It takes some practice. And for me, I just got thrown into the fire. So I was at an agency where we had weekly reporting calls with the client where we had to talk through, you know, strategy and performance and all the different things that were going on. And for some reason, my managers decided that I was going to run that call. Was I scared? Yes. Was I sweating every time? Absolutely. Did I get red probably but I did it, I got thrown into the fire and I just had to figure it out. And what's really interesting is some agencies get really, you know, protective of letting new people communicate with clients. And that definitely was the case, we had to do some trainings on how to how to present how to speak, but they threw me in and just let me go and I made mistakes, I stuttered, I would just kind of trail off at the end of a sentence, but you have to do it to get better and it's beyond just like, you know, communicating strategy or reporting on analytics and numbers and performance.

There's also a different dimension of this. That's just like the communication soft skills. So when everyone's getting on a conference call, and you're waiting for three other people to join, but you and the client or you in that exec are already on the phone, can you make a connection with them through small talk other than Hey, the see the weather today so I don't I don't think I need to expand on that anymore. or learn how to present how to communicate how to speak, being able to use communication to make those connections to foster those relationships. You'll definitely see the results from that.

Okay, number four on the list is you can't skip ahead you have to do the work. And this is something that I really struggled with when I first started my career is like, I just want to be the manager, I just want to move up I want to be in a senior role. But the problem with that is you can't be in that role. You can't get there without knowing how to do the actual work. How can you have you know, empathy or understand what one of your employees is going through? If you haven't been there yourself? or How can you train them? How can you teach them how can you get them through a struggle or situation if you haven't been there yourself? So you really you have to do that work? Right? You can't just skip straight to management and a story that comes to mind as I was talking to a buddy of mine the other day, and we were talking about getting tattoos. And he was like, man, I would love to have like two sleeves. And he goes if you know if they could just put me under and then I could wake up with two sleeves. I would totally do it. And I'm like, Well, yeah, you know who who wouldn't want to do that? And that's like, that's the whole deal, man. You got to endure, you got to sit there you got to take it in order to get to the end result if it was that easy to just sleep through it or just skip to the end or just jump straight to the manager role. And that's what everyone would do, right? So that's number four, do the work, everyone has to be in the trenches at some point in their career, it's the only way that you can grow.

Number five is build your network. And the reason I think this is so important is you just you never know where your career is going to take you. But at the same time, you never know who people who you've worked with are going to leave and go move into a management role. And that's your foot in the door to go to your next position. So you always want to be growing that network making those connections, fostering those relationships, and one suggestion and one thing that I wish I would have done is every single meeting that you go to every happy hour that you're at every conference you go to, if you meet someone there, have you spent time with them, immediately connect with them on LinkedIn so you can continue to keep that connection as you both grow in your careers. So make that connection on LinkedIn, send him a quick message. Hey, it was great meeting you. Let's stay in touch. And like I said, you literally you just don't know where those people are going to go in their career and what connections you need to get into another position. I think it's it can't be understated. Everyone knows it's all about who you know. You have such a huge advantage and a leg up in the recruiting or interviewing process. If you already know someone who works there, if you can get someone to vouch for you, or or slide your resume onto the HR recruiters desk, you immediately have a better opportunity of at least getting an interview because it's someone that you know, that has recommended you.

And then the second half of this that directly applies to me that makes me really wish I would have been better about networking early on is you never know when you might be in a senior leadership ownership partner type role at an agency or you need to be doing business development, you need to be leveraging your relationships to bring new business into your company. And that ultimately comes down to how big is your network? How many people do you know that you've made connections with that trust you that they're willing to work with you and you really just never know when you might need to fall back on that that network, right, your company could go out of business, you could lose your job. And the bigger your network is, the wider your net is cast a better chance you have of landing on your feet less downtime in between jobs, because you've got a large network that you can reach out to you just never know when you might need to fall back on that network. So it's extremely, extremely important to continue to grow that foster those relationships because you really just never know when you might need that network.

All right. Number six is always keep learning, you've got to always make it a priority to spend time consuming, reading, watching anything you can do to continue to advance your skills just because you finish school or whatever it is doesn't mean that you quit growing, I would say that there isn't even more growth to be done. Once you're done with school, there's even more learning to happen. It's kind of like the thing that that professional athletes say, you know, just because you made it to the NBA, that's when the real work starts, right. So find blogs, do trainings, continue education, get certifications, find thought leaders and subscribe to their email list. You're getting their information on the time, go read all the information that Google releases on a regular basis about their algorithm updates, all of these things that you really need to be tuning into because the more information you have, the more exposure you have, the more things that you're taking in absorbing and applying in your day to day the better marketer you'll be.

And the way that I apply this for myself is there's a lot of influencers and thought leader that I follow and I tuned into, but I also am always reading. And the way that I read is maybe not the way that most people read, I read like I'm studying, I just don't have the book, I've got a notebook right next to it. And anytime I read something that I come across that sparks an idea or that think that resonates, that makes sense that I want to share with my team, I write it down. And I'll go flip through those pages when I when I need inspiration, or when I want to go back to something that I that I wrote down that I knew I wanted to share with the team and I want to go find my notes and the thoughts that I had in the moment on it. So that's kind of the way that I apply it for myself. I'm always reading a book and I've got a notebook next to it. And that's a constant studying type of reading that I do even when I'm reading a book that maybe isn't about marketing specifically, there are always things in there that spark something or that give me an idea or there's a lesson learned that I can apply to marketing or to our agency. So that's the last and final one. Always be learning, educating, expanding your knowledge.

Alright, so those are my six tips for growing your marketing career. So thank you so much for tuning in. Thank you for watching, listening, subscribing, liking, writing all of the good things and then lastly, you know if you guys are enjoying what we're doing here if you're enjoying the content, please share tell your friends, tell your mom tell your uncle, whatever, let them know. Okay, that's it for me hope you guys enjoyed this episode and we'll see you guys in the next one

topicIcon The Marketing Cave, Marketing Tips