Five tips on how to advance your career in marketing

The Marketing Academy’s Sherilyn Shackell shares five lessons that every marketer should learn in order to better their career.

Understand what drives and motivates you

When marketers are making decisions about their next move, Shackell urges them to understand what the drivers are that make them happy and the obstacles that have the opposite effect.

There are “hygiene factors” such as salary, commute and working environment that need to be in place in order for people to feel they have a secure role, however she believes certain “motivators” must also be in place to allow someone to thrive.

These motivators are recognition, responsibility, achievement, personal growth, appreciation, feeling involved and being developed.

“When people are looking to change roles they very often think that the reason they want a change is because there’s something wrong with the hygiene factors as it’s very easy to justify the fact that you’re not being paid enough, for example, but it’s rarely the main reason people want to move on and it’s hardly ever the main reason people choose to take a new role. Instead it’s usually because something around the motivators is out of kilter at your current role or because they are totally aligned in the new opportunity.”

In order to determine the difference, she advises marketers to understand what drives them and to have conversations with their boss if they are unhappy. In addition she warns people not to be seduced or purely motivated by money.

Be the best you can be right now

Shackell advises marketers to focus on what they are doing in the present and be the best they can be at that in order to get to the next step on the career ladder.

“To get that promotion to CMO be the best marketing manager you can be right now. To become a CEO be the best CMO you can be right now,” she says.

She acknowledges that there will be hurdles to overcome as a lot is asked of marketers in the current climate such as “being a digital native, a strategist and a leader, while doing it faster and sharper with fewer resources”, but the trick is to never stop learning.

“Getting a mentor is a fundamental way to accelerate your learning… think about having a map of three or four mentors around you that you can meet with regularly,” she says.

She also recommends finding 30 minutes a day to reflect and learn alone, in addition to writing down a list of goals at the beginning of each day and achievements every night.

Build your own brand

Shackell advises marketers to determine how they would like to be perceived by others, what they would like to be known for and to raise their profile accordingly.

“Think of yourself as a product, proposition or service,” she says. “What is it about you that you want people to really hear and feel? What behaviours should you be exhibiting? How should you relate with people and present yourself?”

She also suggests marketers should raise their profile internally and think about expertise they can share within their organisation as it’s the best way to get noticed and could lead to promotion.

Leadership is about influencing others

“If your actions influence or have an impact on people around you then you are in a position of leadership,” says Shackell. But in order to be a great leader you need to take 100% responsibility for every choice and decision you make.

“In the context of your career it’s quite tempting to rely on your employers and people around you to manage your career and help you make decisions, but when we talk about personal leadership, you are responsible for that yourself, and that is the most empowering position you can be in because no one can affect the outcome of your life except you,” she says.

Change “I can’t” to “I can, if”

“If you’re in a block and you think ‘I can’t go and apply for that job’, ‘I can’t go and talk to talk to my boss’ or ‘I can’t leave my company’, change it to ‘I can if I sit down and give myself some time to plan’ or ‘I can do it if I utilise my network to help me’. There are always resources available to you, you’ve just got to change the way you frame it,” advises Shackell.