Marketing Focus – Careers in Marketing
What is marketing?
Marketing is essentially communicating a message about a company, product, service or concept and it can take many forms – advertising (paid for promotion with a commercial message), public relations (using less commercial means such as media relations, events and community engagement to give a positive impression of a company), digital marketing (online marketing using a variety of means), sales promotion (the use of offers and deals to sell products and services at a special price/conditions), branding (logos, packaging etc.)
Where could you work?
There are two main options – an agency or in-house (within a company). Although these both deal with marketing, the roles are very different and different people are suited to each path.
I was identified as an agency person early on by a specialist recruitment agency, I value variety and am easily bored and driven by deadlines, so the demanding and sometimes cut-throat world of an agency suited me.
However, there is little security in an agency and people tend to move jobs often, with long hours, a lot of pressure and a lot of competition to get to the top.
If you like the idea of marketing but prefer a more steady job, then working in a company’s own marketing department and either having sole responsibility for the function, or managing agencies could be a better option for you. The hours are more consistent and shorter, the working conditions tend to be better and there is much more security. However, the work can be very similar and sometimes dull, the politics within the company can be tricky, with the managing of agencies being demanding.
A good recruitment agent can advise what side would be more suitable for you. In London I used these guys and they had lots of really good information on their website as well www.stopgap.co.uk
What marketing roles are there?
There are many roles as part of the marketing function, here are a few of the main ones.
- Copywriter – Responsible to writing advertising, leaflets, billboards, press releases and sometimes websites this person must be excellent with words and able to write to fulfill a sales/marketing function. In big agencies there will be copywriters specialist in the shorter forms of advertising copy and others who focus on the press releases and articles, others work on websites where other skills such as SEO are important. There are now more copywriters dedicated to content marketing and blogging so this opportunities for this role are growing, although the pay is going down.
- Graphic designer – Designing logos, advertising, websites, social media and more this is a highly visual, creative role. However, creativity must be harnessed for a commercial focus and so some artistic people feel that it is “selling their soul”
- Social media manager/community manager – Responsible for managing the social media channels and digital media, this person needs to stay up to date with the latest technological innovations in this rapidly changing sector and know how to write well and engage with fans and followers to maximise response. An increasingly important role as these channels become more mainstream and valued.
- Account Manager/Director – This is an agency role responsible for handling the clients and often (although not always) getting new business. This person must be a good people person, highly organized and very diplomatic to get the designers and writers within the agency to create the desired work and keep the client happy and report on what they are doing
- Planner – Only really applicable for bigger agencies, this is a strategic role which is involved in marketing research and strategy and planning campaigns, in smaller organizations this function is played by the Marketing Director with the help of specialist marketing research agencies.
- New Business Manager – In larger agencies these people are responsible for simply attracting new business, creating proposals, pitching and managing the relationship until they sign on the dotted line when they are then handed over to the Account Manager/Director
Getting started in marketing
There are a number of routes into marketing, practical and theoretical, but it is a competitive industry and in the bigger cities there’s a lot of competition. Many people start from the bottom working as receptionists or junior marketing executives who help with the menial tasks in the agency such as clippings, creating presentations, supporting the account managers in general. These lower roles are often internships where you get the opportunity to train and get experience at the same time, either unpaid or with a low wage and it is highly valuable, but even these low roles can be in demand.
To get learn the theory of marketing and be able to take a strategic role as well as learn about best practice you can study marketing in various ways. There are many marketing degrees at universities or professional qualifications from various bodies e.g. Chartered Institute of Marketing, Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing, however don’t expect these qualifications to catapult you into a top job, it is very unusual to go above a junior role without prior experience.
Chartered Institute of Marketing – I did a CAM Diploma in Marketing Communications distance learning which was very practical and covered the key areas of Public Relations, Direct Marketing and Sales Promotion, Marketing and Consumer Behaviour and Advertising. It was really flexible so you could study it for as long as you wanted – it’s 1 year minimum but as I was working a demanding job I did it in 2. With the CIM there are 4 levels available – introductory certificate, postgraduate certificate, professional diploma and chartered postgraduate diploma, plus lots of more specialist courses and there’s a wealth of information on their website – www.cim.co.uk
There are also excellent online resources, webinars and books which can inform and educate and put you ahead with little or no cost.
Best of luck getting started in marketing, it’s a really interesting and highly rewarding profession.