“How did you get into marketing?”
At Buffer, members of our marketing team are often asked this question. And the truth is, the path looks different for each of us:
- Alfred was in the army
- Arielle was a health coach
- Kevan, our Marketing Director, was a sports reporter
But for those of you out there who want to start a career in marketing or maybe build from where you are in 2018, we’d love to help you figure out:
- How can you transition from your current role into marketing?
- What should you focus on learning?
- What skills do you need?
To help answer these questions (and more!), we’ve teamed up with Product Hunt, who recently published their first book on careers. The book highlights the best insights from top founders and investors on mentorship, overcoming challenges, and the best and worst career advice they’ve received.
In this post, we’ll share some of the insights from Product Hunt’s book — including lessons from Tim Ferriss and Reddit co-founder, Alexis Ohanian— as well as some advice on building a career in marketing from the Buffer marketing team.
Ready to jump in?
7 Tips for building a career in marketing
1. Form habits around your strengths
You are the average of the five people you associate with most. Also, you don’t need to get much right to be and feel successful. Just form habits around one or two strengths.
In Product Hunt’s book, Tim Ferriss’ #1 piece of advice for anyone looking to kickstart their career is to “Form habits around a few strengths.”
And at Buffer, we’ve built our marketing team around our individual, core strengths. For example, as an Editor, I focus mainly on my strengths in content marketing and SEO:
As Kevan explains in our t-shaped marketer post:
Generally-speaking, everyone on the Buffer marketing team will have all the base knowledge and marketing foundation skills; plus, each teammate will have chosen at least one main channel in which they are an expert.
Try to form habits around whatever discipline of marketing you’re most excited about:
- If you’re into video, download some stock footage and start editing it
- If you want to become an SEO master, try reading as much content as possible from places like Moz, Ahrefs and Backlinko
- If writing is your thing, set aside time in your calendar each day to sit and write
It can be daunting to look at marketing and think you need to fully master: analytics, data, CRO, SEM, advertising, copywriting, SEO, community and more.
But in reality, to be a successful marketer, you don’t need to be an expert in every channel: one or two areas of expertise will be enough.
However, before diving right in and choosing an area or two to focus on, experiment with a bunch of different skills to see what’s the best fit for you.
2. “No” is just a starting point
The best piece of advice I ever received was that “No” is often just the starting point, and most careers worth having involve a fair amount of determination, grit, and just general “try, try again”-ing.
When it comes to kickstarting a career in marketing—or even climbing the ladder, you’ll likely hear “No” and a lot more than “Yes”.
From pitching editors content ideas to applying for various roles and freelance gigs, throughout my career, I’ve been told “No” plenty of times.
But what I learned along the way was that each “No” was bringing me a step closer to a “Yes”. For example, each article pitch I had rejected helped me to eventually land my first paid writing gig with Crew.
And When I landed my role at Buffer, it was actually the second time I applied — Kevan, who’s now our Marketing Director, was also unsuccessful in his first Buffer application:
Kevan used the above note as motivation and failing to land his dream job helped him to realize where he could focus his energy to improve.
Treat each “No” as an opportunity to learn and refine your skills.
3. Focus on timeless skills
Write every day. Even if you’re not a writer, I find this practice to be clarifying for many things.
There are certain skills that will never become outdated in marketing. To name a few:
These skills will always be valuable.
For example, whether it’s a blog post, copy for a landing page or captions for a video, writing will always be a key skill for marketers to have.