8 Ways to Advance Your Marketing Career

Hal Conick
AMA Annual
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Key Takeaways

​What? Career experts discussed seven key ways to advance a marketing career at the AMA's 2017 Annual Conference.

So what? Without aim, a marketer's career can advance in ways they didn't expect or want. With aim, marketers can reach plateaus previously unimaginable.

Now what? Follow some of these pieces of career advance, including defining guiding principles, working on soft skills and taking risks.​

​Sept. 12, 2017

Taking risks, bolstering skills and proactive career management help rising marketers thrive


There are plenty of ways to advance your career, but career expects gave eight pieces of advice at the 2017 AMA Annual Conference in Las Vegas. 

1. Define your guiding principles.

Both Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group  and Marti Konstant, founder of Agile Careerist Project say marketers can use their creativity as a career advantage and guiding principle. ​Domeyer says marketers should find an area where profound change is needed or coming soon, figure out what they can do and become experts. Konstant says marketers should work toward building a market where one didn't previously exist.

Confidence is President of Carolco Pictures Bradley Albert's key. His guiding principle is to always look people – superiors or otherwise – in the eye and tell them that you're going to take control of something, even if they don't believe in your ability. The key at this point is to follow through and own the project.

2. Advance hard skills.

Konstant says marketers must have the ability to demonstrate return on the marketing investment is to their stakeholders.

“[Use] the data that is available to you to help others understand the return on marketing that's beyond the bottom line,” she says.

3. Refine soft skills.

Soft skills may make the difference in a hiring decision, Domeyer says. Hard skills are important, but she says soft skills will often win, even if the candidate with better soft skills doesn't have the same hard skills as their competition.

“The really good news is that the market, in terms of career opportunities for marketing professionals, is great,” she says. “But you have to build your soft and hard skills on top of it.”

Important soft skills, per Domeyer, include creativity, innovation, collaboration and power of influence.

4. Know your worth.

Domeyer says it's important for marketers to know their worth and what salary to expect. What may be even more important is how much satisfaction marketers get from their jobs. Luckily, she says, marketers and other creative professionals usually rank as more satisfied than other professionals and have a lower unemployment rate.

5. Adapt or get left behind.

Adapting sometimes means updating soft or hard skills. Other times, it may mean taking a step forward in a leadership role.

Konstant gave an example of how she adapted by trusting a team she hired to actually do their work instead of micromanaging them: “The best thing I ever did in growing was taking step a away, letting them make decisions and recommendations. It helps them to solve problems that are really tough, and it helps to educate me that there is more than one way to solve a problem.”

6. Put yourself out there, and take risks.

Albert says he once learned an important lesson when talking to a bartender in New York City. The bartender was working hard, having fun and being personable in the wee morning hours. Albert was awestruck. He asked the bartender what his secret was. The bartender told him: “I behave like I own this bar, thus I'm successful in my career.” Taking this kind of control of even the smallest job can help marketers be larger than life, Albert says.

Albert suggests marketers take risks, be confident, and go outside of their comfort zones. Albert says he took a lesson from his time as a ballroom dancer: “If you're having fun, even if you suck, you look great.” Similarly, he has the same advice for those trying to put themselves out there: “When you walk into a role and you care, anything can happen.”

7. Take control of your career, and don't wait for others to advance you.

Marketers should ask themselves two fill-in-the-blank statements that will help them take control of their career and figure out where they want to work, Domeyer says.

Her statements:

“I will know I arrived when ...”

“My ideal work day looks like ...”

The first statement is to find what your ego wants, Domeyer says, while the second is a question of where marketers may find fulfillment.

8. Don't be afraid to fail.

During a keynote speech, Jorge Orozco-Cordero, senior manager of UX design and innovation at Discover Financial Services, says marketers must learn to fail many times in their career before they succeed.

Orozco-Cordero says he believes any successful project will take seven failures to finally succeed. There're no analytics to show this, he says, but he uses it as a number for himself to know that sometimes many iterative failures come before success.

“At some point there will be inevitable success,” he says. “Looking at failure as a leading sign of success is essential.”

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Author Bio:

Hal Conick
Hal Conick is a staff writer for the AMA’s magazines and e-newsletters. He can be reached at hconick@ama.org or on Twitter at @HalConick.
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