You may envision becoming a marketing manager as a benchmark role to be reached at some point throughout your marketing career. Traditionally, the title does represent a person transitioning out of the earliest stages of their career and into more of a leadership position.
However, the term “marketing manager” itself can be quite vague, as there are many types of marketing managers across various functions.
“Titles don't always tell the whole story,” says Connie Sedden, an Email Marketing Manager at Coursera. Marketing managers may manage people, projects, or a combination of both. Additionally, companies tend to employ their own naming conventions, so someone performing management-like tasks may not actually have “manager” in their title.
At Coursera, there are some generalist marketing managers, as well as specialized marketing managers who focus on niche areas such as affiliate, brand, email, product, or search engine optimization (SEO) marketing.
Here, Courserians managing marketing tasks across the department offer their advice for anyone interested in working toward a marketing manager role.
“Proactively brainstorm and propose new ideas or strategies that can streamline processes or introduce value to the company,” Iris Wu, Consumer Brand Marketing Manager, says. “Here's a personal example: during my undergraduate internship at a start-up, I noticed they didn't have a marketing department so I became their first digital marketer and taught myself how to build social ad campaigns which drove immediate ROI—so much so that they increased ad spend budget for these campaigns. From personal experience, employees who demonstrate initiative and are vocal about their contributions tend to stand out from the crowd and are better positioned for growth opportunities.”
Take as many risks as you can and put yourself out there. It's a lot easier to do when you're first starting out in your career, and you will learn so much more by doing instead of watching.
“Take as many risks as you can and put yourself out there. It's a lot easier to do when you're first starting out in your career, and you will learn so much more by doing instead of watching. Volunteer to take on a new project or manage the big account, and you will become an expert much more quickly,” Email Marketing Manager Connie Sedden offers. “Find a good manager that will support you and wants to see you succeed. Find someone you feel comfortable asking silly questions to. Take the time to understand this bigger picture of what you're working on and your industry. There are a lot of great blogs, newsletters and online courses that you can use to help you.”
“Treat everything in your daily world as an opportunity to find out more about your chosen field. You can’t work at every company in the world, but there’s nothing to stop you from critically evaluating any business, figuring out who the people are behind the business, and why they do what they do,” says Divya Hillier, Senior Manager of SEO & Strategic Content. “When I was getting started in SEO, I started auditing websites of every business I loved. I was able to learn so much so quickly about how discovery works, and create a much bigger perspective on search and the industry as a whole.”
You can’t work at every company in the world, but there’s nothing to stop you from critically evaluating any business, figuring out who the people are behind the business, and why they do what they do.
“People always talk about a ‘five-year plan,’ and it's great to have goals and long-term aspirations, but it was important for me to realize that the only timeline I'm on is my own,” Paid Media Associate Ciera Ybarra says. “Rather than asking, ‘Did I get the promotion?’ or ‘How am I comparing to other people with the same title or experience?’ I started asking, ‘Am I enjoying this? What am I learning? What am I building? Am I making an impact? And do I feel fulfilled?’ Having a five-year plan is good, but I found that if I'm not asking myself these bigger questions, then my five-year plan isn't leading me where I want to go.”
“Follow up with your network,” Marketing Manager Veronica Cendales says. “As you may already know, networking is a huge part of career development. However, networking is not sending a bunch of people invites through LinkedIn. It’s about the power of people and connection. So focus on the quality instead of the quantity of people that you have in your network. Follow up with them constantly and make sure you have people that inspire you all around.”
Whether you’re aiming for a generalist or specialist position on a marketing team, a willingness to learn will be an important part of your growth. Explore marketing courses on Coursera. Sign up today for free and gain access to over 5,000 courses from world-class institutions and industry leaders, like Introduction to Marketing from the University of Pennsylvania, the Digital Marketing Specialization from the University of Illinois, and the Marketing Analytics Professional Certificate from Meta.
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