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Climbing the Ladder of Success: How To Make It In Marketing

On this episode of Uncommon Marketing Matters, Amber DeFabio, Uncommon Marketing Works’ Growth Marketing Manager, spoke with Heidi Nielson, Marketing Director at FFKR Architects. 

FFKR Architects is a full-service architecture firm serving Salt Lake City, Utah, and Scottsdale, Arizona. Heidi began her career with them as a Marketing Coordinator fresh from her college graduation and has worked her way up the corporate ladder, being promoted to Marketing Director.

Heidi began college pursuing a degree in architecture, but after a visit to FFKR, she realized she had a different goal in mind. She switched gears and graduated with a degree in fine arts, beginning her career in marketing at the very place that inspired the change.

Many marketers view work at a marketing agency, or marketing firm, as the only option. But working on in-house teams, or in specific niches, is an excellent option as well. Whether you’re climbing the ladder within an individual organization or building a career over time, we wanted to know Heidi’s advice on how to be successful in marketing careers.

6 Tips For Success In Your Marketing Career

Heidi herself made the progression from marketing coordinator to marketing manager, to marketing director. During their conversation, Amber and Heidi discussed the steps Heidi took that she believes contributed to her career progression.

With Heidi’s help, we identified some of the top tips for finding success in your marketing career.

Think from the perspective of the customer

An important part of any marketing strategy is building buyer personas. Buyer personas are fictional representations of your target audience—your ideal customer. While these personas are generalizations, every marketer needs to have a deep understanding of their target audience.

What pain points does your product address? What does the customer journey for each persona look like? These are all things you need to know and understand so that you’re able to speak to the customer by approaching things from their perspective.

If you’re working with clients, you want to show them that they have been heard. You need a comprehensive understanding of the client and their needs so that you can meet those needs successfully. Heidi called it an “education component”. It is the question of “How does what we can do fit with what you need to do?”.

By delivering a great customer experience that meets expectations and extends the customer’s lifetime value (LTV), you demonstrate your expertise and leadership skills.

Work as a Team

Marketing is collaborative. Omni-channel experience is the expectation these days and siloed departments that don’t communicate are no longer finding success. Successful marketers need to work collaboratively within their team and across departments to ensure a seamless customer experience.

Heidi highlighted the importance of working with your team, not just dictating deadlines. Just like your customers and clients, your team members want to know that they’re respected and valued. They want to feel listened to and understood.

She found success by changing how she approached projects. In kick-off meetings, she began providing a clear outline of who was part of the project team, who was responsible for what content, and how all of those smaller projects fit into the larger whole. Working collaboratively with team members so that they understood the progression and deadlines instead of simply dictating them and expecting compliance made a difference.

By building trust within the team, she helped to create a smoother machine. Relationship building is an important part of leadership. Without demonstrable skills like these, career progression will come to a halt.

Understand Your Niche

A niche market is a segment of a larger market. Niche markets have their own unique preferences and many niches have a very loyal target audience. Your niche can be a key differentiator for your business, so it is important you understand the needs, preferences, and unique identity of your target audience.

For Heidi, who originally majored in architecture, understanding her niche was simple. But, for many others, it requires a bit of work. Having a true understanding of the niche (or niches) your business serves will help guide your marketing strategy. You will be able to better meet the needs of your customers and bring in more revenue.

Know Your Competitors

Beyond understanding your niche, you also need to understand your competitors. This goes further than simply knowing who your main competitors are. Competitor research is one of the first major steps marketing teams take when they start developing their marketing strategy. You can begin by looking at their marketing literature and strategies, identifying their customer journey, and looking at key differentiators.

Once you have a deeper understanding of your competitors, you can develop a marketing strategy that helps differentiate your business from those competitors.

Follow the Trends

The customer’s preferences are always evolving and marketing trends evolve with them. Some, like content marketing, are here to stay, while others may only trend for a short period of time. Keeping up with the current marketing trends can often be the difference between the success and failure of a campaign.

Remember, they are trending for a reason. This is how customers want to be spoken to and how they want to interact with brands.

Keeping up with trends isn’t always easy, but it is necessary. Researching trends is key. Follow top marketing brands and industry blogs, like HubSpot, to stay informed. They recently released their Marketing Strategy Survey finds for the top trends of 2022. You can always follow trends on social media and stay informed through top industry experts as well.

Follow the Data

As Salesforce stated in their recent State of Marketing report, marketing is spelled D-A-T-A. It can be difficult to track ROI from marketing efforts, though data analytics have certainly simplified this process. Your marketing data makes it possible to track performance, measure success, and get a better understanding of your customer’s preferences. 78% of marketers utilize a data-driven customer engagement strategy in today’s digital marketing landscape.

Marketing leaders follow the data as they make decisions about strategy, optimizations, and more. It can dictate budget, impact ROI, and improve campaigns. Management should not be the only marketers paying attention to what the data is telling them.

In-depth knowledge of how to track your marketing efforts, visualize data, and gain critical insights from the results is key to success in marketing.

Advice for Entry-Level Marketers

After a successful career in marketing working herself from the ground up, Amber asked Heidi what advice she would give to entry- or mid-level marketers looking to work their way up in their own careers. Aside from following the six tips we outlined above, there is one thing Heidi believes is key to success in a marketing career: an in-depth understanding of the inner workings of your business.

This is more than simply understanding your niche or your competitors. In-depth knowledge of the “business side” of your company is essential. You should see the bigger picture: the company’s goals, how the fee structures work, and how the business operates beyond the marketing team.

The marketing team is only one small piece of a larger whole. Each team plays its own role and how they function, what they need to look at for success, and how they make decisions; it is all-important for you as a marketer to know as well.

Are you interested in being a part of Uncommon Marketing Matters as a guest speaker? Feel free to reach out and contact us. We want to feature you!

Or, are you ready to deep-dive further with a team of marketing and sales experts? Set up your free 30-minute strategy call with Uncommon Marketing Works! Our team is ready to help you take your business to the next level and increase your bottom line.

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