Marketing is a very broad field. In essence, it is divided into three parts, science, art, and leadership. When you start in marketing it is likely that you will either join the science or art side. The science part contains delivering ads using platforms like Google, Meta, and TikTok. And also measuring the effectiveness of campaigns, creating websites, or setting up automation. Then there is the arty side, which people usually see as more creative. This consists of writing articles, designing visuals, editing movies, creating brand guidelines, sending out mailings, and basically all things where something is created.
Over the years I have seen a difference in characters for both sides but also many people who are good in both but prefer one side. And then there is the leadership, people who are good at coaching, teaching, strategy and motivating. Most of the marketing leaders that I have met were also good in all fields but excelled in the leadership components.
Where do you start your learning journey?
If you are at the start of your career in marketing and dream of becoming a marketing leader someday, then I would recommend developing your skills in both the arty and science side. It helps you to get an understanding of marketing and what parts you like most.
If you already have a preference you can also choose to dive into it to become a specialist. The more you focus on a specific part, the faster you can become a specialist. And the great thing about marketing is that you can build your career (and income) by either becoming a leader and also by becoming a specialist.
How do you learn the art side of marketing?
First of all, practice makes perfect. So, it is time to start creating content. To create good content it is very important to understand the psychology behind marketing. You have to know what triggers people. Therefore, I would recommend reading books or watching YouTube videos about buying behaviors.
After that, a crucial skill in the arty side is writing good texts. You want to captivate people. This is something you can also practice on your own. But I would recommend getting your texts reviewed by someone. If you don’t work in a company yet, you can hire someone on Fiverr.com.
To develop your graphic design or video skills, I would advise you to visit YouTube. It is literally filled with content about creating content. There are so many courses available totally for free that if you are disciplined it is the best way to start. Taking part in a real-life course or via a platform like Udemy.com might help you to keep up with the learning pace.
In visual design, there is also a huge field. To grasp the basics I would recommend learning the basics of design: spacing, hierarchy, positioning, etc. These basics can be applied to videos, images, websites, pictures, and more. You will learn cool tricks, for instance, that people will look at what the person in the picture is looking at.
How do you learn the science side of marketing?
For me, this journey started by creating my own website and analyzing it to see how I could get more traffic. This helped me to learn the basics of SEO, websites, analytics, and automation. After that, I started running Google Ads for friends (free of charge), which allowed me to practice it. I read articles online and then implemented suggestions to test them. A good alternative to learning this is to start working at a digital marketing agency. That way you are likely to see the effects of advertising in multiple sectors and allows you to meet specialists in different fields.
What helped me most in developing this side was getting my Bachelor’s degree and following an online course at EdX. Following online courses allows you to develop a specific part as you can choose your modules.
Here are some books that helped me in developing this side:
Measure What Matters (John Doerr)
The Science of Selling (David Hoffeld)
The Sales Acceleration Formula (Mark Roberge)
How do you learn the leadership side of marketing?
All good marketing leaders that I have met started in marketing. They understand the basics of all marketing fields and are therefore able to select the right people to do the job. Therefore, I would recommend not going into leadership too soon but testing different fields of marketing. Another important component of leadership is being great at motivating people.
To learn how to motivate people it is crucial to understand human psychology. Over the years I’ve read countless books, got one-on-one leadership coaching, had team sessions with other marketing leaders, got external advice, and even took therapy to better understand myself and where my limitations lie.
The books are a great way to start to see if this is something you want to learn, here are some tips:
The Servant (James C. Hunter)
7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen R. Covey)
The Coaching Habit (Michael Bungay Stanier)
Trillion Dollar Coach (Bill Campbell)
What You Do Is Who You Are (Ben Horowitz)
So, what is the best way to learn marketing?
Everyone learns in their own way. However, I would definitely advise you to learn out loud. Show what you learn. Only then people will know that you possess the skills. This will help you to progress in your career. So, start learning, creating, and sharing your stories.
Everyone in your organization has an opinion about marketing. The end result of your work is visible and influences how others perform. People with no background in design will (try) tell you how to make an image better, they will ask you to create presentations (that might not be used), to record videos (that already exist), and to write more articles with ChatGPT. I have seen many people who are new in a marketing role that got overwhelmed so here is advice on handling your workload in a marketing function.
Monday is for planning
If you don’t plan your tasks in marketing, you will lose overview and probably get a mental crash. So, you need planning. For a junior I would recommend at least having a weekly schedule, intermediates should have a quarterly schedule, for seniors I would recommend having a year plan and for marketing managers, it is important to know where the organization wants to be in 5-10 years and break it down in years.
Okay, so for the entire marketing team, it is important to have a weekly schedule. By using a planning tool (Monday/Jira/Trello) you will be able to create a kanban board of all the tasks. During planning you will have to look at:
Open tasks (how many hours do they take);
If there is more room, what is the priority of tasks that are not started (and how much time do they take);
Select your tasks and schedule them in your calendar (or write them down on a to-do list).
If you are with more people in the marketing team, discuss your planning on Monday. This will allow you to ask for or offer help.
Use your calendar
I’ve seen great marketers who used a notebook to write down all their tasks and who managed to schedule them in their minds (impressive). But I’ve always been a huge fan of using the calendar for the following reasons:
If someone wants to schedule a meeting, your time is blocked for something that has to be done;
Your colleagues can see what you are working on;
You can search in your calendar to see when you worked on a task (great for creating annual/quarterly review presentations);
You will be able to batch similar tasks and create differentiation in your week;
Leave some space for informal meetings and unexpected tasks;
You can use it as a to-do list and make items green if they are finished, if they are not green you can easily reschedule them to next week.
What you hate or fear should be your first task
The best way to handle challenging tasks is to dive in head first. Do them as soon as possible so you have less time to think about how terrible the task is. I’ve always done this with administrative tasks, the sooner it’s gone, the better I feel. The same goes for difficult conversations, the longer you think about them, the more difficult they will get. Prepare your conversation and do them as soon as possible.
Manage marketing requests
‘Hey, could you make a presentation about our customers in area x?’ Such questions are not uncommon for marketers who are just taking a bite of a lovely sandwich during the lunch break. So, you want to streamline those requests, as most of these requests can be ‘lazy-requests’. A lazy request is something that I’ve identified in the past 10 years as people who come up with an idea, spit it out, and expect you to create magic. If you do create something, it will usually end up in their download folder and will stay there for eternity.
Here is how you handle these types of requests:
Create a Marketing Request form (using a tool like Google Forms, Jira, Monday.com) – In the form you want to include: Title of the request, the Person requesting it, the Goal of the request, the Audience for the deliverable, the Distribution method of the deliverable, the Description of what they want, and the Due date for the deliverable.
If someone asks for a marketing deliverable, ask them to fill out the Marketing Request Form
Make sure that everyone in your organization has access to the form
After they submit the form, prioritize the request (for example by discussing it in your planning meeting) and communicate to the requester if you have enough information, when you will start working on it, and when you expect it to be finished (make sure to always leave some days between your expectation and what you communicate, in case of sickness/unexpected tasks with higher priority).
Eliminate time wasters (reduce meetings)
Identify which activities consume time but don’t significantly contribute to your marketing goals. For example, if you are posting on all social channels, make sure that those channels are effective. If not, it might be better to reduce your activities by focusing on fewer channels.
The same goes for meetings. Often people schedule meetings to structure their own thoughts. This is a waste of your time. So make sure to prevent people from scheduling meetings about anything with you by asking loads of questions before they schedule the meeting. If they want to discuss a plan, ask them to send a presentation about their ideas upfront so that you can prepare. This will not only help you both from useless meetings, it will also allow you to consult colleagues or experts enabling you to give better insights in the meeting.
Review and adjust your schedules
Last but not least, review if your marketing planning is effective. Are you reaching your goals? Are you strict but not too strict? Are you able to finish your work during the day? Are you thinking about your work at home? Look at the marketing metrics and ask for feedback from your colleagues.
Having a good balance between work and life is important to maintain your energy and creativity. If you notice someone who struggles with their planning offer to help them in creating a structural approach as it might impact their private lives to a greater extent than you can imagine.
Over the years I learned that simply asking for more budget can lead to closed doors. In your mind, you have a clear plan and you convinced yourself to spend money. However, you still need to convince the budget holder. This could be your manager, a financial controller, or maybe even a partner. In this article, I will share tips and a template that you can use to request a budget from your manager. For organizations, I would advise only using this for purchases that pass a certain threshold (depending on your total budget). Note: This is not a template for your yearly budget planning, this will be shared in a different article.
Write down your goals and how you can measure them
Before you decide if you want to spend money, make sure that you have clear goals. These can be company goals, department goals, or even personal goals. Here are some examples:
Company goal: The company wants to expand in Japan
Department goal: The marketing department wants more customers to visit a webinar
Personal goal: You want to specialize in Shopping Advertising to help customers better
If you know your goal, see if you are able to measure them. If this is possible, it will help in requesting the budget.
Decide if you would spend the money and present multiple options (if possible)
If you are confident it is the right decision, it will be easier to convince the budget holder. So, before making the request decide if you would spend the money if you were the budget holder. If you have multiple options be sure to select which option you would recommend. You can include the details of all options in the request form and state which option has your preference and why.
Explain what you expect from the purchase
In business, we love spending money if it creates more money. So be sure to explain how this purchase will eventually lead to a positive return on the investment (ROI). This could be an estimation of how many new customers you expect, the hours that will be saved by making the investment, or to strengthen your market position. Whatever the expectation is, make sure that it is aligned with a goal.
Break-down the costs
To estimate if the purchase would get a positive return, it is crucial to make a breakdown of the costs. This will give insights into the spending and allow people to think along to see if there could be any savings. If there are options that you would not choose, be sure to include them as someone else looking at the request might find it interesting to take those options as well. For example, if you want to exhibit at an industry event, include the options for speaking at the event. And also include the traveling and hotel costs.
Use a marketing budget request template
To save you time, I would like to share a marketing budget request template that I’ve been using for years now. It includes details that people need to be able to approve the budget request. Feel free to make a copy and adjust it to your company branding:
If you want to request a budget, it is wise to present your plan. Don’t present it as a ‘budget request’, but present it as a ‘Solution to reach goal X’. Schedule a meeting with your marketing manager and include visuals to make the request more solid. Be sure to focus on reaching the goal, the purchase is a way to reach your goal.
Be open to feedback on your request
As you know, four eyes see more than two. Be open to feedback from your manager and emphasize that you are willing to adapt and optimize your plan based on their input. In your mind, you might have evaluated all situations and options, but sometimes managers need approval from their colleagues and thus need more explanation, options, or input to improve the idea. If a request is declined, make sure to understand why it is declined. This will help you to prepare your next request.
It’s not about the money
Remember, a successful budget request is not just about asking for money but about presenting a well-structured and data-driven plan that aligns with the company’s goals and showcases the value your marketing efforts will bring to the organization.
If you’re on a quest to land an entry-level marketing role, buckle up for an exhilarating ride. I’ve got five fantastic tips that will have you conquering the marketing world in no time, all while sharing my own story that began during my music college days. Be sure to apply these tips because as a marketing manager, I’ve seen that many people without any experience or knowledge about marketing will also apply for entry-level roles. As you want to work in marketing you should stand out.
Build your own marketing portfolio or audience before joining a start-up
Picture this: I was a music enthusiast studying in college, but my heart was equally smitten with marketing. So, I took a leap of faith and started a blog where I wrote about marketing for artists, writers, and all others in the entertainment industry (Entertainment Marketing: ENMA). In the first six months, I saw my audience grow from 20 readers to 1,000 readers per week. Eventually, the blog was evidence that I still studied and practiced marketing while being in music for four years. This helped me to land my first marketing role as they could see that I loved marketing.
Starting the blog not only let me hone my writing skills but also ignited my love for audience engagement. Remember, starting a blog on your passion can be your launchpad to building a personal brand and gaining invaluable marketing experience. And the best thing about it, you are able to share what you’ve created in your CV when you apply for jobs. So, here are 3 things you can easily do to show that you understand and love marketing:
Create an Instagram account focused on photography
Create a blog about a subject that you love
Help a small business or NGO with their social media
Start a (video) podcast and interview people
By building a portfolio you will show that you are willing to spend your time learning more about marketing. I’ve always used this as a key indicator when hiring people.
Don’t be boring: Create a good-looking CV
One of the things that I am most surprised by is the amount of boring CV’s that I receive. Most people who apply for roles in marketing use their CVs to show that they don’t know anything about standing out or showing their skills. If you can’t do this with your own CV, it will be hard to do it for a company that you don’t fully understand yet. So, a few quick pointers on how your CV should be different when you apply for marketing:
Share results: No matter what role you previously had, share metrics. As marketing consists of data and creativity, it’s important to include data as it will demonstrate how you think about your work. For example: Fast-food employee: Focused on improving the speed and quality of packing burgers. Blogger: Grew my monthly traffic from 300 to 1,500 monthly readers.
Be bold: This is especially important when you apply at a start-up or scale-up. Sometimes entry-level roles receive up to 150 applications. Imagine having to go through all those CVs. You can imagine that it takes tons of time. So your role is to make your CV as easy to understand as possible.
Example of a bad versus a good CV for entry-level marketing roles:
Shortly explain why a company should hire you
Almost nobody sends motivational letters anymore. That’s a good thing because most of the time they are a recap of what is already in your CV. So, if you want to stand out, visit the page of the company that you would like to join and use the following template to write your motivational letter:
In my CV you can see my experience, but I just wanted to let you know that I can help CompanyX to include their goal or mission as I’m eager to apply my existing experience as well as to learn new skills and apply those to CompanyX. The reason that I’m leaving CompanyA is that I feel like I’m not developing as fast as I want. If you have any questions about my experience feel free to call me.
Remember, this advice applies to start-up and scale-up entry-level marketing roles. You might not even have a previous employer, but that’s okay. Then leave that sentence out. The reason that you want to include their goal or mission is to show that you know to what company you are applying. Here are some examples:
I just wanted to let you know that I can help AgencyX to boost the shopping ads of your customers as I’m eager….
I just wanted to let you know that I can help SaaSX to reach business decision makers regarding blabla software as I’m eager….
I just wanted to let you know that I can help CompanyX to get more customers to buy product Y as I’m eager….
Start now: pimp your CV and start applying
All right, now stop reading about how to get your dream job and start acting. Step number one is to upgrade your CV. Include a good picture (or make one if you don’t have it yet). Include your address, experience, and proof (references or even a review). Check your CV, email, and letter with a grammar checker like Grammarly or ChatGPT.
Don’t think too long about applying to a company. If you’re looking for an entry-level marketing role, don’t be afraid that you don’t have all the experience they require. Just show that you are able to quickly learn and that you are a self-learner. You will read books, go on YouTube, and ask experts in your network to learn. Eagerness is the number one trait of entry-level marketing roles and I’m sure that if you are reading this, then you are one step ahead of others applying for the same role.
What is the best moment to start advertising? It’s a question that many business owners and marketing folk have. To answer this question it is important that your organisation or marketing department has clear goals. You can use advertising to validate product concepts, to research the need of your target group, to scale your audience or to promote your promotions. So, let’s dive into some moments and strategies to start advertising.
1. Research the need of a target group
One of the key goals of a marketing manager is to understand the challenges that their audience have and to link it to solutions that their organisation offers. A great way to discover the needs of the target group is by using advertisements to share knowledge articles, whitepapers and webinars around different topics.
For example, write articles on the top 4 trends within your industry. Share these articles via advertisements, using the exact same target audience and budget. If you already build an audience (on social or email) share it via those channels as well. Wait for the campaigns to run. Schedule two hours in your calendar to combine the analytics of the different channels. And voila. You can now see what topics generate the most traffic and how long people spend on your articles.
This is crucial information because it allows you to create more content or even solutions around that topic.
2. Validate product concepts
Another great way to use advertising is to validate product concepts. So, imagine that your previous research showed a huge interest in a certain challenge within your industry. You can now create a concept, publish it on a landing page saying that your product is now in a research phase. And then ask people to sign-up to get more information when the product is available. This is also a trick that many writers use to select a book title or description.
Imagine promoting a product concept and getting zero requests, then you know that your product has to be revised and it might save you a lot of money on development costs.
This is not an advertisement but a great example of product validation and research by Vianney Lecroart from Lemlist, a software vendor for personalised cold email outreach:
3. Scale your owned audience using advertising
One of the best channels that I used during my B2B activities was LinkedIn. It was a great tool to send direct messages to your target audience and to share posts generating free traffic. However, since a lot of spammers who refer to themselves as ‘growth hackers’ created tools to automate this process they killed the entire platform *Thank you growth hackers!*.
The effectiveness of sharing posts and getting organic reach declined and it is clear that LinkedIn is putting more focus on generating revenue via advertisements. So, what should you do?
The most effective tool for business to business marketing is email and calling. Why? Because you can control it, you own the audience if they give you permission for it.
Here is what you want to do, advertise your gated content (whitepapers, webinars, tools) to your audience (yes, also those who follow you on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc.). Share valuable content and ask for permission to store their data.
Remember: the more valuable the content, the more information people will share.
4. Promote your promotions
Be aware with this step. If your organisation is low on budget, the best time to start advertising is when your product is ready to scale. Reaching an audience isn’t hard. You pay money to an advertiser or media outlet and they will share your message. So, the hard part is getting your message and product right.
When your product is validated in your market then it is time to start advertising and promoting it. Before buying Google Ads, or hiring an agency write down a plan with answers to these questions:
Who do you want to reach?
What are the three main challenges they have (that you can solve)?
How does your solution solve each of these challenges?
Do you have content that can be linked to all the three challenges?
Do you have content for each buying stage?
What results do you want?
When is a campaign a success and when is it a failure?
Are you able to measure the results?
Research competitors and do the opposite
In college many marketing students learn about researching the competitors. One of the pitfalls is that people think they should see what their competitors do and then copy it. My advice is to do the complete opposite of what your competitors are doing. After reading ‘Purple cow’ a decade ago, I knew that one of the best marketing tactics is to stand out from the crowd. If you haven’t read it yet, I would definitely recommend to check out Purple cow by Seth Godin. Don’t feel like reading, go to this video on YouTube.
So, what is the best moment to start advertising?
It depends. I know, it’s not the answer you were looking for. But keep in mind that advertising is just one tool to reach your audience. I would use it if you need to gather information quickly, or if you want to spread your message quickly.
The goal of this article was to help you to decide if it is time to start advertising. Hopefully, I helped you a step in the right direction. As you can imagine, each organisation is unique. To give a full advice I would also dive into your organisation and industry. So, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out via LinkedIn.
Don’t forget to subscribe to the email newsletter to stay up-to-date on new tips and tricks to scale your marketing.
How solid is your marketing planning process? Often many people within your organisation have great plans, however, a plan is nothing without planning. And that’s why the marketing planning process is key to any successful organisation. As most colleges teach marketing focused on enterprise organisations, I want to share what a marketing planning process is and how to define it for a SMB, start-up or scale-up.
What is a marketing planning process?
Within the marketing planning process you define your marketing campaigns and set responsibilities as a marketing team. It is a systematic approach to achieve the goals of your organisation. Each organisation has their own process in which they plan their marketing actions to reach the goals.
Before starting with your marketing planning you should have these in place:
Make sure that your goals are clear. It is useless to work hard if there is no finish line. If you don’t have clear goals people might work too hard or on the wrong subjects. Imagine training to run for a marathon by going for a 40km run each day, you will not make it.
Who are involved in the marketing planning process?
No matter how intelligent you are, you should include your entire marketing team, colleagues from other departments, customers, executives, partners and external advisors in your marketing planning process.
Within your marketing team everyone should feel responsible for their programs and their main skill.
7 Steps within the marketing planning process
To start your marketing planning process from scratch I would recommend to go through these steps:
Perform a solid market research (one time + recurring) Use a combination of desk research, CRM-analyses, digital marketing analysis (SEO/Ads/Social), recordings of customer conversations, and speak with the customers yourself. This allows you to build a situation analysis and a baseline for where you are today. In this step you should include customers, partners, the executives and other departments.
Set objectives on each component (yearly) Within Workspace 365 we use the Reach, Teach, Act framework. It is a framework that I developed throughout the years and can share one-on-one. In short, it allows us to focus on: Impressions, Visitors and Conversions.
Within marketing you can measure a lot of things. But as a small organisation you should be agile. That is why I would recommend to have a maximum of 3 key KPIs for your marketing team and also 3 KPIs per person that contribute to the key KPIs.
An example of a key objective is to increase the website visitors 10% month-over-month. This could be split to personal KPIs such as increase traffic from LinkedIn with 10% month-over-month.
Formulate your marketing strategy (yearly) Within your marketing strategy you will formulate how you will reach your objectives. Will you focus on digital marketing? Will you include physical events? Will you include traditional media? Review this strategy with external advisors as they will be able to level-up your strategy.
Develop action programs (quarterly) Marketing should touch all bases in your organisation. In this step you will define your action programs to fulfil your marketing strategy. For example, if your organisations works with a partner channel distribution, you should develop programs to activate partners and help them to reach their goals. The action program might be: Activate the top 100 Partners
In this step you will also decide who is responsible for the action program within your team.
Implementation of programs (monthly) So you decided your action programs, now it is time to implement them. What recourses are needed to fulfil your program? Who should help you? And when is the deadline?
E.g. to activate the top 100 partners you decide to organize an event to highlight the benefits for partners. In order to get them to sign-up you organize a give-away. This gives a lot of planning: Who will present the event? What will they discuss? What will you give-away? Who orders these stuff? How will partners know about the give-away?
Control and review(weekly) Each week you should have a marketing planning session to discuss the progress of programs within your team. This will enable your team members to ask for help. It will also allow them to pro-actively help other team members in improving their work. Ideally, each team member presents their own programs, it’s status and results.
Evaluation (after each program) After each program you should evaluate the results. Things you want to include: – What was the result? The program lead should collect data for this part. – What could we do better? Use this to update your process files. – What did we like most? This enables people to give compliments to each other, this is important because you probably have an awesome team who should feel proud!
The program lead can collect the information using forms or by setting up a short meeting.
How do you start with your marketing planning?
Where should you start? That’s a great question. Depending on how much time you have I would start at step 1: the research. However, I know how hectic marketing is at a smaller organisation. Ultimately, you want to link your goals to the organisation goals. But if the organisation goals are not clear, don’t hold back. Setup your own goals. Move quick and be agile. Need goals? Use your current progress and add 3, 5 or 7% on a monthly base.
The goal of this article was to help you in setting up your marketing planning process. Hopefully, I helped you get a step in the right direction. As you can imagine, each organisation is unique. To give a full advice I would also dive into your organisation and industry. So, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out via LinkedIn.
Don’t forget to subscribe to the email newsletter to stay up-to-date on new tips and tricks to scale your marketing.