How to make a career switch into marketing
You are creative. You love to make an impact. And you have strong communication skills. If you want to put these skills to work, a career in marketing could be a perfect fit. Marketing careers are rewarding, enjoyable, and well paid. Marketing is a broad field, so there are plenty of opportunities to get your foot in the door and accelerate your career.
While it is possible to apply for marketing jobs at new companies, the best way to kickstart your marketing career is often within the company where you already work. You already know the company's products or services, and you can more easily connect with the right people and express your interest.
If you are new to the workforce, you may not have the advantage of deeply understanding a company's products or services. However, much of this advice still applies. You can set yourself up for a successful career in marketing by educating yourself on the industry in which you want to work and forming as many relevant connections as you can.
Before you begin to transition to a marketing role, you will want to determine which field of marketing suits you best. Marketing managers are generalists who carry out a full range of exciting and challenging activities to promote products and drive business growth.
But there are also many more specific paths you can take such as digital marketing, product marketing, or content marketing. Consider the paths that align with your current job and skills. For example, if you are currently in a product-focused role (e.g., product manager or sales engineer), you might be able to more easily transition to a career in product marketing.
Switching careers can be daunting — even if you are doing so within your own company. But it is entirely possible to pursue a path in marketing without formal training or even before you officially join a marketing team. Here are some suggestions:
Know the strategy
Get familiar with the marketing strategy as soon as possible. This is what establishes how your marketing team will achieve your company’s vision, mission, and business goals. More specifically, marketing strategies include information such as marketing-specific goals, target audiences, and key messages. The marketing strategy will give you insight into how the marketing team operates and provides value to the organization.
Show your commitment
The key to successfully switching career paths within your current organization is explicitly showing your commitment to and passion for the work. One way to do this is by helping out in any way you can. You can offer to write guest blog posts or get involved with trade shows or other events your company participates in.
Befriend the sales and support teams
If you have not already, get to know your customer-facing teams. They are product experts and have a wealth of customer knowledge that you can learn from. They can help you better understand customer pain points and how your company solves them. Armed with this information, you can begin to learn how to effectively articulate the benefits of your company's product or services to key audiences.
Listen to (and conduct) customer calls
The best way to learn how to communicate and engage with customers is to listen directly. Regularly join in on support and sales calls to get familiar with customer questions and feedback. You can also read call notes and support tickets to identify patterns. And take every opportunity to talk to your customers live. For example, you can offer to help interview customers for case studies.
Learn marketing processes and tools
Well-organized marketing teams have documented processes for just about everything. And most teams use a variety of tools to carry out different activities. How does a campaign or program get defined? What is the workflow process for content creation? What about product launches? Learn the processes from end to end so you have a complete view of what your marketing team does from day to day.
Read everything that is relevant
Your own company's content will give you a great sense of how the marketing team communicates your company's key messages. You should also read external content created by customers, industry experts, or competitors. The more you read about your company and industry, the better equipped you will be to produce work that engages your audience.
There are tons of educational resources available to learn marketing skills. If you have determined which field or discipline you want to pursue, seek out courses and other resources that are tailored to that area of expertise. It is also useful to research marketing job requirements to understand which skills are needed for a role within your company. While some roles require creativity or communications skills, others require specific analytics experience. You can also seek guidance directly from others in marketing through networking events, mentorship, and coaching.
Use the product
You need to understand the benefits of your product well if you are going to market them. You do not need to be a technical expert, but you must have a solid working knowledge of your product or service. This is even more important if you work in B2B technology where the benefits or use cases for the product might not be obvious to you as a consumer. If this is the case for you, try to get in the mindset of the end user as you navigate and get to know your product.
If you are thinking about pursuing a career in marketing, it is important to take advantage of any learning opportunities you encounter. Be patient yet determined, and use these strategies to pursue your first marketing role with confidence.
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