By Claire Shiels of Claire Shiels Marketing.
Marketing is one of those “sexy” industries in which everyone wants to work. Those not currently involved in it, imagine swanky cocktail events with celebrities, exciting projects with household brands and national recognition.
Those of us fortunate to already be working in marketing, realise that in most instances, it’s more about burning the candle at both ends, justifying marketing spend against actual return and the constant need to keep abreast of the latest thinking, techniques and tools.
To those of you who are currently trying to get a foot in the communications door, I would strongly suggest working towards a formal qualification so an employer can see that you at least have the knowledge, dedication and potential to become an extremely valuable member of the team.
Unless you have a desire to become a joint secretary/marketing assistant/bookkeeper for a high street plumber, marketing qualifications are now simply expected, due to the competition for jobs and high standard of applicants.
A good starting point for most is the Chartered Institute of Marketing. This is the accepted organisation for study, and both marketing graduates and those without higher academic qualifications tend to enrol with the institute.
Courses range from introductory certificates to post-graduate diplomas and studies can be undertaken via evening classes, intensive weekend classes or by distance learning.
Be realistic about your career path. You will more than likely need to begin your role at a marketing assistant level and work your way up the ladder, either at the same company or in different organisations.
Far from being a lowly job, however, a marketing assistant is usually in a fantastic position to learn all aspects of the industry, from being asked to undertake many different tasks. It is often at this stage that a professional marketer will discover their areas of strength and preference, slowly beginning to specialise in certain areas.
As your career progresses and you begin to work for larger firms with dedicated marketing teams, you will be able to put your specialisation to good use. You could find yourself involved in PR, advertising, sponsorship deals, web design and SEO, social media marketing using Twitter, blogs and Facebook, data mining, event organisation or e-marketing.
Of course, the first step is to find that elusive job in the first place. When starting out, providing you are qualified or have some degree of experience, steer clear of the job centre.
Employers who post marketing vacancies through the employment service are more concerned about receiving a considerable volume of applicants, rather than the standard of applications that they receive.
Odds are, they will have the same hazy view of what marketing could and should be doing for their firm, potentially making it very difficult to do your job effectively.
There are several national recruitment agencies, noted for their specialist marketing recruitment teams and no doubt there will also be one or two relevant agencies in your nearest city. Of note are Michael Page and Hays.
Beware of adverts requesting “sales and marketing assistants”, especially those continuing with “no experience necessary”. Very often sales and marketing are put together in the same sentence, usually by someone with little idea of what marketing actually involves.
Therefore, instead of analysing your customer base, studying your clients’ buying behaviour and ensuring your product or service range matches their needs, you may well find yourself making cold telesales calls – a very different kettle of fish, requiring a very different set of skills.
You may also wish to think about whether you would prefer to be an in-house marketer, with its stability, or prefer the more fast-paced life of an agency, working client-side.
Again, these two are poles apart and it is very difficult, after many years in-house, to try and break into agency work, so ponder on this now, as it may well affect your future career and job satisfaction.
What you will find with most seasoned marketers, is that marketing to them is not simply a job, it is a passion. Rarely will you come across more dedicated individuals who eat, sleep and breathe their career.
What makes us this way? Quite simply, job satisfaction. Yes, there are days when stacking shelves at the local supermarket seems rather appealing, but luckily these tend to be more than balanced out when a quality newspaper rings to ask your MD for an interview on the back of something you’ve sent out, or a client emails to say thank you for your work and their phone has been ringing off the hook as a result.
Unless you’re directly involved in charity work, what you do is unlikely to save lives or change the planet. However, it could well make a difference to the organisation in which you work, or your clients’ business. It is this knowledge which makes marketing such an interesting, engaging profession.
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