It’s pretty inspirational to hear personal career development stories and it’s also reassuring to know that not everyone set out to work in the marketing field, but they did somehow fall into the complex world of B2B!
On a personal note, I started my career as a designer and small business owner and I guess I also sort of fell into marketing. Hearing personal development stories reassures you that you’re not alone, not everyone has it figured out from the get go, but what is interesting is the majority started their careers in varied industries. Could we argue that this makes us better marketers? Having experience in accounts, creative writing, business, design or customer service, surely gives us extensive knowledge and experience for a deeper industry understanding and the ability to be analytical and question approach, anyway those are my thoughts but let’s hear from the guys that have 10-20 year’s experience!
At the latest BMCXchange event held in Nottingham we heard three successful B2B Marketers that spoke about their career paths, struggles and tips on how to grow your career.
We started with a poll of how many people in the room actually had Marketing Degrees. Out of 24 people only 4 had a degree in Marketing, 9 had degrees in other subjects and 7 had gained their CIM (I think the other 4 just came along for the free food 😉 ), but what almost all of them had in common, was that they started their careers working within a different sector and sort of fell into the role of marketing.
Lis Wilson – Head of Marketing at Essendex admitted that a career in Marketing was not her life plan, Lis actually completed a degree in creative writing and hoped to become an author. After completing her course Lis worked in a call centre and within the customer service sector before later developing her role in Marketing which took her to a position in America where she lived for several years. Lis was very honest about her initial struggles of managing a team and an example was her struggles to be honest with an employee who just wasn’t pulling her weight. Her advice – be honest and deal with the issue head on. On a more positive note her next experience was quite the opposite, Lis employed two of the brightest people she had ever worked with, which presented a different problem all together! How do you stop yourself from nit-picking at these almost perfect people! How do you stop that voice from comparing yourself to them at their age? Lis openly admitted that she did quickly deal with this, learning to appreciate their skill set and loved every second working with both girls.
Something Lis has struggled with is imposter syndrome. The concept that everyone in the room knows what they’re doing except you! Don’t assume that everyone else knows what they’re doing but yourself, it isn’t true. Have confidence!
Siobhan Moll – Marketing Manager at The Agency Works had similar experiences to Lis, explaining her unconventional career journey. Siobhan chose not to go to college or university and decided to find a position where she could learn through industry experience. Starting her career as an office junior at the age of 17, dabbling in sales before her MD mentioned marketing! It was a very small company and with very little understanding for the industry Siobhan decided she would gain her CIM. The CIM didn’t compliment her current role, Siobhan found that the CIM was very much targeted at B2C and it was at this point that she decided it was time to move on. Her next role at Travis Perkins is where everything began to make sense. She gained a proper understanding to what marketing was all about and what as a department you could actually achieve for your company. It redefined her as a marketer and her position really helped her learn and develop her career, giving her the confidence to progress to managerial level.
Siobhan left us with her three key tips:
- A degree isn’t a necessity there are other routes
- Make time to develop and learn outside of work
- Identify when it’s time to move on
Christian Buttress – Client Services Director at Cubic. With a background in business, Christian paired up with a previous colleague and friend, to start their own branding agency. Getting things off the ground and maintaining momentum was incredibly hard in the early days, but it certainly gave them resilience and strength to make it a real success. Cubic has seen great growth in 20 years, they have a fantastic client base. It’s always important for Christian to translate to the design team what the client needs. When working with B2B services and products it can often be a good idea to distil complex information down to its essence.
Image created by Cubic Agency
Christian showed an example of a campaign for Abacus Lighting where the brief was to create something emotive, visually stunning with a different approach to anything seen in the current market. They came up with the title ‘Power/Beauty’ to highlight (no pun intended) both the exceptional performance and refined aesthetic qualities of the LEDs. To bring the title to life they decided on a campaign that would suggest these lights could successfully illuminate epic environments. The approach was to demonstrate that when the rest of the market are doing pretty much the same thing, it can work well to differentiate, and take things in a different creative direction.
“B2B is such a specialist area, there are levels of complexity that can often be far tougher and very different to a B2C creative brief” – Christian Buttress
If you’re thinking about a career in Marketing and are currently working in a different sector, don’t worry, you have that in common with the majority. We’ve composed a few key takeaways for you to mull over:
- Don’t fall into the mind set of imposter syndrome assuming everyone else knows what they’re doing but yourself. Have confidence!
- The Client come’s first, awards come second.
- Know when it’s time to move on and take risks
- Mentors can help guide you in the right direction, find out more about our programme
- Quantify your worth – Know your worth
- Take advantage of organisations such as leadership programmes and networking organisations
- Always be helpful
- Think outside of the box
- Great marketing solves problems
Like to develop your career with the BMC? Find out more!
Claire Sherriff – Freelance Designer and Social Media Marketer