Choosing Your Marketing Career Path

According to Monster, marketing jobs are expected to grow by 8% from 2018 to 2028. And this is just one estimate.

Between 2017 and 2018 alone, there was a 33% increase in content marketing jobs. The potential growth within the marketing profession is seemingly limitless.

But where do you start? How do you discover your marketing career path? These tips will help point you in the right direction.

Education

Unlike other professions like law or medicine where you absolutely need to follow a very specific educational path, taking the right classes and attending the right post-graduation schools, marketing is different.

There is a lot more flexibility in how marketers learn. Sure, many of the best in the business studied marketing, advertising, communications, or a related field in college. But on the flip side, many of us—myself included—were self-taught.

Marketing as a field of study is evolving so rapidly, it lends itself well to this self-taught approach. The tools, tactics, and strategies that worked a decade ago seldom work today.

The things that are being taught in universities today are often outdated by the time a student graduates. Or, to prevent this, university professors tend to live in “theory land” and rarely ever venture outside of it. They obsess about outdated marketing models such as the “4 P’s.”

Sure, it’s good to know what the “4 P’s of Marketing” are, but if you ask any currently-successful marketing professional about them, 9 out of 10 will probably tell you that this kind of theoretical information is virtually useless in their day-to-day job.

So, what does this mean when it comes to choosing the right educational options for your marketing career path? It means that you have the flexibility to choose the method by which you acquire these skills. You’re not forced into a narrow number of options.

There are countless free or low-cost courses, books, conferences, and mentorships available that will help you get up to speed faster, cheaper, and at a higher level of tactical proficiency than many university programs.

Experience

Now, when it comes to experience, getting exposed to many different facets of marketing early on is critical. Why? Because as you’ll see in a moment, marketing has a few different major career path distinctions. And you’ll want to make sure you’re on the right one before you get too invested.

Getting experience as a marketer can happen in several different ways. For me, it meant working at an agency. It was a fast-paced, high-stakes environment that let me quickly learn not only what I was good at—and liked doing—but what I hated doing as well.


The thing about agencies is that they also expose you to other experienced marketers. That is why I almost always recommend that new marketers or students of marketing get agency experience as soon as possible.

Sure, you might hate “agency life” from day one; but it’s a surefire way to get extremely valuable experience in half the time. I often say that I feel I was able to learn twice as fast when I worked at an agency than in all the years prior.

Bottom line: Get. Agency. Experience.

Creative Marketing vs. Growth Marketing

Okay, here’s the big idea of this entire article. In marketing, there are two main paths to choose from: the creative path or the growth path.

Neither one is better than the other, and both are absolutely essential to getting things done.

But just as some people are “left-brain” thinkers and others are “right-brain” thinkers, these two paths tend to lend themselves to different types of marketers.

If you enjoy art, design, creativity, branding, and the old “Mad Men” style of coming up with big ideas, then creative marketing may be the right path for you.

On the other hand, if you like data, analytics, paid advertising, conversion optimization, lead generation, ecommerce, and technical details, then growth marketing could be your preferred path.

Obviously, the name of this site gives away which path I’m on. Growth marketing has been my focal point for the last 5+ years. Prior to that, I didn’t really think about this distinction between creative marketing and growth marketing, and I wish I had.

Of course, many marketers will disagree with me here. They’ll say there are plenty of other paths, and that I’m defining things too narrowly. And that’s fine. My view on these two marketing paths is meant to be somewhat exaggerated, in order to get you to think about things in a way that drives you to action.

Choose a path and see how it works out for you. If you end up not liking it, try again, or invent your own marketing career path.

Make it your own

There’s a lot more I could share on this topic, but I’ll save it for future articles in order to not dilute the key takeaways of education, experience, and career paths in this one.

Above all else, marketing is an exciting profession with endless opportunities. So get out there and make this career your own. It’s never too late to get started or readjust your course.

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