As the industry changes, so does the make-up of each company’s marketing team, and you might be uncertain which direction you want to go. To help you decide what type of role you’re best suited for, we’ve outlined nine common marketing jobs within marketing, what folks in those positions do, and what you can do if you want to start down that path.
Keep an open mind as you decide which area of expertise you’d like to pursue, as many overlap with several others and draw on similar skills and qualities.
1. Social Media Marketing
When a brand makes an off-color joke on a social media platform, it’s common for people watching to attribute this misstep to “the intern running the Twitter account.” But no responsible company would hand over the keys to a brand’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram feeds to an inexperienced intern. In fact, the larger the brand, the larger its social media team likely is, with more senior-level marketers overseeing its social strategy.
A social media marketer posts content informed by a brand’s style guide, but it’s important to note that they aren’t simply writing copy all day. They’re engaging with a brand’s audience in real time, preparing analysis of engagement data, planning future campaigns and approaches based on that analysis, and collaborating with other marketers to determine how a social strategy can support a brand’s other work. And they’ll often have ambitious KPIs (key performance indicators) to reach for.
If you’re interested in working as a social media marketer, the first thing you can do is develop a robust professional online presence for yourself. You can also try to work on a project basis for brands or small businesses and build a portfolio of social copy and multimedia elements. If that’s not an option, you can always develop a sample social media strategy for a brand you admire, sort of like a prospective TV writer putting together a spec script.
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2. Email Marketing
Because of social media algorithms, only a small portion of an account’s audience will see their social media content. So companies look for additional ways to reach the majority of their target audience. Email is still a precious commodity in the marketing industry because a newsletter’s subscriber base opts in to a brand’s messaging. It’s a naturally more captive and curious audience, and email marketers who know how to leverage the opportunity to connect with users in their inboxes can do very well for themselves.
To work in email marketing is to toe the line between data analysis and editorial strategy. You’re often curating blog posts and links to include in newsletters or promotions for subscribers; using an email service provider to build and launch campaigns; keeping an eye on open rates, click through rates, and subscriber numbers; and running A/B tests and other experiments to try to boost performance.
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3. Brand Management
A brand manager oversees every aspect of communication, both internal and external, and brings a company or product line’s brand persona to life. A brand persona is a collection of messaging and customer experiences, and it carries a company’s narrative (the sort of thing you saw on the “About” page 10 years ago) across all platforms.
Breaking into brand management is near impossible without any marketing experience, but if you’re already a marketer looking to move up, volunteer for corporate strategy projects at your office. When you’re interviewing for a brand manager position, you’ll want to be able to point to multiple scenarios in which you put out a fire for a company, reworked a brand’s messaging to appease a specific audience, or developed a project with multiple team members.
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4. Content Marketing and Copywriting
Brands are beginning to create content the way publishers or media companies would, and the writers and designers they hire to create all this content are called content marketers. Simple enough, right?
To get into content marketing, all you really have to do is write. A lot. You need to prove to hiring managers that you are passionate about the written word, which means you’ll need to flex your muscles writing social media copy, video scripts, blog entries, investigative articles, zines, brochures, flyers, or other materials. A marketing degree can look appropriate if you’re applying to a content marketing job, but believe it or not, you’ll be even more attractive as a candidate with a literature or creative writing degree. After all, you need to know a good story.
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5. Product Marketing
Product marketers often act as an important liaison between the marketing team and colleagues in product management, engineering, sales, account management, customer service, and more. They spend a lot of time learning about their target audience, understanding what they want and need, and “translating” information about customer experience to those tasked with creating and promoting a company’s offerings.
If you’re interested in product marketing, study the corporate success stories of brands that have rallied behind a single eye-catching product: the Apples, Amazon, and Google of the world. Read about how products are created and promoted. Talk to product marketers at your own company or find folks to reach out to through your network. Make sure you’re keeping your writing skills sharp. And if you can’t find preliminary experience in developing product marketing work for brands, create your own materials on spec.
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6. Growth Marketing
It’s difficult to have a conversation with a modern marketer without touching on data. While a marketer in any area on our list will need some familiarity with number crunching in order to get ahead, analysts live or die by a company’s data. A growth marketer specializes in distilling and studying a company’s data and presenting their findings internally to inform a company’s marketing strategy.
If you’re hoping to land an entry-level job in growth marketing, you might have a degree or coursework in statistics, business, marketing, or other quantitative and technical areas. And you should come to an interview prepared to show off both your quantitative and qualitative skills. You should have examples of brand messaging you tailored to a specific audience, but as your math teacher always told you, show your work. You’ll need to prove that you can take a certain kind of information like user data, synthesize it with your own ideas, and shape a promotional strategy around those findings. To demonstrate those skills, even if you haven’t used them in a past job, conduct a survey and visualize the data in an interesting way or design your own experiments and write about them on a personal blog.
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A marketer focusing on public relations or corporate communications will, like many of the other roles on this list, work closely with social media marketers, content marketers, and event marketers. PR reps are often tasked with promoting the content a company’s marketers create as well as the brand and company as a whole, and they’re often expected to enter a role with a robust professional network in order to do their job effectively.
To land a job in PR, develop a portfolio of work by doing some promotional work on a small scale (for a friend’s side hustle, for example, or a local political campaign), and be sure to show the breadth and depth of your abilities. Create promotional copy, leverage your network in interesting ways to garner publicity, and test out your speechwriting skills.
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8. Event Marketing
The focus of an event marketer depends a lot on a company’s overall goal. If you’re specializing in event marketing, you may find yourself ideating viral “experiential” marketing stunts. These are the sort of Instagram-friendly pop-ups you’ll see in cities around the country. When you think of public stunts, mascot characters, pop-up shops, scavenger hunts, and Red Bull’s Flugtag competition, well, that’s all event marketing.
To land an entry-level job in event marketing, volunteer to help plan any kind of social event, even if it’s just a series of movie nights for a student organization on your college campus or for a networking group in your city or town. As long as you’ve got promotions, social media campaigns, and communications with a team, that counts as fodder for your portfolio! You’ll also want to stress your ability to stay calm under pressure, maintain conversation with strangers, and pitch in wherever you’re needed.
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9. SEO/SEM and E-commerce
Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are based on the idea that most potential consumers Google their questions before making a purchase. SEO is the practice of tailoring a company’s website and marketing content to search engine requirements, and SEM drills down on that idea even further, targeting potential customers who use search engines through paid advertising.
If you find yourself fascinated by search, you’ll be able to build on your initial knowledge and potentially transition into an SEO or SEM speciality. Another great way to hone and demonstrate your growing skill set is to create a personal website for yourself and practice the key points of an SEO strategy there. You’ll be able to show a hiring manager how you changed your website to increase traffic.
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No matter which marketing focus you’re drawn to, you’ll find that those hiring for roles want candidates with strong interpersonal skills, excellent verbal and written communications skills, and a varying degree of experience working with data. The marketing industry is hungry for professionals who love learning new skills, using data to inform their work, and collaborating with colleagues in other departments.