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How to progress your marketing career

21 Mar 2017 by Kathryn Gallan

Before you look for a more senior marketing position, ask yourself these questions about your commerciality;

Do you know what your company is worth?

It goes without saying that you should know roughly how much money your company makes. If you’re working for a Plc or a large company that holds an AGM, you’ll be able to get your hands on their financial reports because they’re more than likely listed on their website.

This information is also available for medium sized companies and unless, they are very small, this information can be found in a number of different places such as Companies House, UKData and Company Check. You can also use this information to check the financial performance of companies you wish to join, with this information shaping questions you’ll have for them at interview.

Even as a marketing executive, by asking “I can see from  your financial reports that revenue declined/increased rapidly in the last 3 years; what are the reasons for this” automatically makes you more commercial than a peer asking about how many days holiday they can expect to receive.

If you’re working as a marketing manager or the lead in a marketing department and you don’t know this information, you’ll be perceived as not being commercially aware and certainly not as senior as you may portray.  

Do you know who your company’s customer is?

It’s worth determining the difference between active, current customers and prospects held in your company’s CRM systems. In marketing, the volume of customers often denotes pace and can determine how well equipped you are to change company sector or size.

For example, a business that carries out direct mail to a customer base of 2,000 prospects will operate very differently for one targeting 20,000. As interviewers, we’re usually looking at how you can adapt to a different pace of work as well as the level of budgets you can manage.

Similarly, the lead time from targeting a customer to them making a purchase denotes how a company operates. Those with a two-year sale cycle will not work as quickly as those where there’s little thought that goes into a purchase.

If you’re clear on who your customer is and how big the market is you can start to understand the problem that you’re trying to solve for them, rather than executing activity ‘because it’s what we’ve always done’.

Do you understand where you deliver value?

I’m still surprised that many marketers struggle to give a direct answer to the question “what are you targeted to deliver”?  When we ask this question, we’re looking to understand what metrics you use to demonstrate success. 

These won’t necessarily be targets around income generation but they may be targets around lead generation, conversion rates, the amount of new customers signed up or retained or whether NPS increases. To demonstrate your commerciality, give the interview a clear overview on what you deliver.

It’s important that you understand what doing your job likes like but also what going the extra mile (without being asked) entails. The latter will put you ahead when conveying your experience at interview.

If you’re not set targets, then read our blog about it

Recognise that senior marketers don’t always get to do the marketing

The common view is that senior marketers get to make all the decisions. Whilst the responsibility lies with them, they’re often not making decisions about the day to day tactical marketing and instead are focusing on business decisions that are impacted by margin.

Rather than sitting in creative meetings, they’re managing % margins, sitting on steering groups about how new channels or technology will impact operational processes and discussing productivity and key talent at board meetings. The actual marketing is often delegated to their teams or agencies.


If you’re currently a marketing executive with aspirations to progress your career into a managerial role, why not talk to us about the competencies and attributes needed and assess your experience against your peers.

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Kathryn Gallan
A member of the 10,000+ interview club, Kathryn has worked in marketing and digital recruitment longer than anyone in the region. Key figures take her recommendations so being part of her trusted network is essential for a career savvy marketer.

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