Marketing Career Advice: Video Tips from 12 Marketers Who Made It

Andy Crestodina

It’s a creative, fast-changing industry, filled with passionate people. Marketing is a great field to work in. And in marketing, there’s something for everyone.

If you like creative work, marketing is for you. If you like data analysis, marketing is for you.

Yes, it’s competitive and it can take time to get traction. There aren’t any shortcuts, but there are things you can do that will speed up your success.

I was recently at a conference filled with successful marketers. So I took the opportunity to ask each of them a question. I held up my laptop and recorded each of them answering the same question:

“What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career in marketing?”

Here’s how they answered. Scroll down below the video to meet your marketing career advisors.

1.  Find a mentor

“Follow them, even if unpaid. Look for, then model their success and evangelize. Depending on what they’ll mean to you, they’ll be with you for every step of your success. Consider working for free. Years later, your clientele will come from the relationships formed with the influencer’s help.” – Alex Harris – Author, Speaker, Creative Director at Alex Designs

Agreed, Alex. Talk to people who have already done the things that you’re hoping to do. Ask for guidance. The advice you’ll get may be priceless.

2. Subscribe to some really good blogs.

“Moz, Content Marketing Institute, and Vertical Measures are excellent and advanced resources. Attend conferences in your area. Events like Digital Summit run throughout 12 states annually. Also, get your hands on the most relevant reading materials.” – Arnie Kuenn – CEO, Vertical Measures

Absolutely, Arnie. Reading is fundamental. Most of the great marketers are largely self-taught. And they study diligently. And then they teach what they learned.

Blogs are our textbooks. Events are our classrooms.

3. Start a blog. Start writing.

“Pay close attention to any area or platform that proves that your own voice stands out. Because you’ll want to grow in your career, start a blog. Be consistent with the schedule and stick to it. Share your thoughts in some way. Stick to a schedule and you’ll start learning more by teaching.” – Bryan Kramer – Global Speaker, Author, Consultant,

We agree completely with Bryan. If I knew then what I know now about content hubs, I would’ve built a stronger position sooner. It’s harder now, but not impossible. It’s never too late to establish yourself and contribute to your field.

4. Focus on your personal brand.

“No matter how hard you’re working for someone else, it’s through working hard for yourself that will make the difference. The opportunity will present itself in what will work vs. what doesn’t, both for yourself as well as for the brands you’ll represent in the future.” – Chad Pollitt – Co-Founder, VP of Audience, Relevance

Your personal network is your market and your work is your portfolio. Like it or not, you build your reputation every day. Understanding this is key to your career. Make every relationship and effort add, not subtract, to the story of you.

5. Study storytelling

“Really understand the story: What is narrative? What is conflict? This will hopefully be the future strategy of all marketing, not just content marketing. Focus on what you can do for other people, all of your career.” – Drew Neisser – Author, Speaker, Founder of Renegade LLC

Exactly, Drew.

Fiction writers, movie makers and marketers all have this in common. They know stories. Stories move audiences and marketers. At the heart of every brand is a history with characters, adversity, challenge, risk and reward. Marketing is about telling true stories well.

6.  Dive in

“There are tons of online resources available to learn all of the different aspects of the web and to set up your own site. That’s how I was able to show the work I’ve already done.” – Erica McGillivray – Senior Community Manager, Moz

Erica gets it. There is nothing stopping you from getting hands on immediately. Start now. Be resourceful and figure out ways to get things done. The sooner you make something, the sooner you learn to promote it, and the sooner you learn to improve it.

7. Read the classics

“I stick with the old marketing books, e.g., Seth Godin’s stuff from 1999. Read marketing advice and materials from 20 years ago. This is the stuff that explains the principles of marketing. In marketing, it’s the tactics and the channels that have changed, but the principles are fundamentally the same.” – Hana Abaza – VP Marketing, Uberflip

Human psychology hasn’t changed. And the advice of the original masters of marketing is as true today as it was in 20 years ago and even 50 years ago. Soak up this foundational knowledge. It’s waiting for you.

8. Connect with influencers within their marketing spaces

“If content marketing or email marketing is your thing, find an influencer within those spaces. Find between 10-20 influencers and tell them what you bring to the table. When you finally make a name for yourself, you can pay it back.” – Jon Wuebben – Founder and CEO, Content Launch

This never fails. Just like finding a mentor, providing support to an influencer has the same effect: you’ll get to where you want to go in your marketing career. Active listening, immediate action and humility all benefit both sensei and the grasshopper.

9. Remember, you’re marketing to humans like you

“Remember that you’re marketing to other humans.  Don’t do anything to anyone that you wouldn’t want to be done to you.” – Justine Jordan – VP of Marketing, Litmus Software

Smart advice. We are all a “target audience” for someone, but we’re also people who hate spam and love getting help. Let’s call this Justine’s golden rule. Market onto others as you would have others market unto you.

10: It depends on where you are in your career

“Get a job working for an agency that has a lot of clients. In digital marketing, there are more specialties being introduced all the time (e.g., social media, writing, interacting, blogging, etc.) There are more specialties in digital all the time.” – Rich Brooks – Founder, The Agents of Change and Flyte New Media

Rich is right to focus on a variety of experiences. Marketing is an extremely diverse field. Eventually, you’ll specialize, but in the beginning, it’s best to try many strategies for many types of businesses. An agency job can help make that happen.

11: Be fearless. Go with your gut.

“There are so many buzzwords and language, but ultimately it’s about customers, psychology and common sense.  Don’t let all the experts intimidate you, because it’s all possible. Everyone can be a marketer.” – Roxana Shershin – Founder, Digital Additive

It’s a business filled with fancy words, technical terms and jargon. We might know what it all means, but it’s not about us. It’s about them. Roxana’s reminding us not let the fancy stuff get in our way or get in the way of our work. Be accessible.

And now let’s put all that “expert” advice into perspective…

12: Realize no one knows anything.

“There are just a bunch of ideas. Test a lot of stuff. Anyone who thinks they know everything is delusional. Not having a big background is not necessarily a disadvantage. Go in with an open mind and assume you’re not the only one who doesn’t know everything. Measure, test and then see what happens. Hopefully, you’ll be smarter with every test you run.” – Sean Ellis – Founder and CEO, GrowthHackers

So true! Beware of confidence. Keep questioning. Keep testing. To quote the Heath brothers in their best-seller, Made to Stick, “All of us tend to have a lot of ‘idea pride.’ We want our message to endure in the form we designed.”  But it’s not about us, remember?

Sean hits it right on the head: measure and test.

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