There has never been a better time to work in marketing. It’s a boom town with so many new avenues opening up. There is literally an opportunity for anyone with creativity and a finger on the pulse of the next big tech and social media trends.

But with great opportunity comes challenges. There are so many other people out there trying to progress in the marketing game too, and you will definitely need to have that extra spark and those additional skills in your toolkit to set you apart from your competitor. Putting yourself out there is an ongoing marketing campaign that you will need to keep working on throughout your career. The only difference with this marketing campaign and any other is; you are the product.

Get Experienced

Versatility is the name of the game, especially when you are starting out. Take every opportunity to gain experience in different areas; you might get the chance to provide professional sports marketing one day and work on a social media campaign for a non-profit the next day. Using the same techniques and tools, you can run campaigns for everything from a small local cafe through to a global brand leader. Once you know the principles, you can learn to sell anything.

The pay may not be great on the bottom of the ladder, and you shouldn’t expect to get the top end of the salary scale from day one. That said, ambition will get you far, and if you can show that you will work for it, then you will find that you’ll get more chances to develop.

If the right paid opportunity doesn’t show itself, take on unpaid work to get yourself portfolio experience. There are always new start-ups or small businesses that need can’t afford to pay much, and while ultimately, your pay cheque is the name of the game- but there is no shame in starting off with volunteering work. If you can provide the right marketing to a new company, they may be able to grow to a size where they are able to provide full-time work.

Create Opportunities

If you want to demonstrate your SEO skills, there is no better way but blogging. Starting your own blog is not only a great online calling card for your skills. You can set up a WordPress site for free. Writing blog posts regularly will definitely get you thinking fast and will help you develop a range of writing styles. Your blogs can be easily monetized too, with the inclusion of affiliate links. So, your website can benefit you in three ways.

With experience, you’ll be able to demonstrate that you can turn your hands to anything. You can build up a great portfolio. The more experience you get, the more you can tailor that portfolio so that you can market yourself better.

It’s completely fine to move onto better opportunities at other companies should they arise. If another company offers more development opportunities, then it’s worth considering a move. Just don’t burn your bridges as you go. Make sure you have learned all that you can from your current role and also move on under good terms; you never know when you might work with your previous company, or members of their team, elsewhere.

Develop the Toolkit

Different projects will need different platforms. But having a strong understanding of different digital marketing techniques will allow you to pick the right reach for the product.  Having a good grounding in Facebook advertising is useful; but for a younger demographic, knowing Snapchat or Instagram like the back of your hand will be invaluable.  Google Adwords is essential. Learn to analyse the data from your campaigns and make decisions based on what you can learn from the information. Marketing is not just about creativity; you need to understand demographics and marketing and make decisions based on what you can learn from these.

Research Potential Employers

If you really love the product that a company supplies, or you’re really inspired by their marketing campaigns; chances are you’d like to go and work for them! If that’s the case, you’ll never get a foot in their door without knowing that company well.

It definitely bodes well if you know as much about the company’s history and development as possible. If you can talk passionately about what that they do, with knowledge- then you might be just the person to help them sell themselves.

If you know anyone who works there, ask questions. Find out what kind of place it is to work at. Will you suit them? And, importantly, will they suit you? Read reviews of the company on websites like Glassdoor; this will give you invaluable insights on what to expect at interviews and beyond.

Find out who the hiring managers are there and what they specifically look for. If you know names, then you can directly tailor your application to them. Make sure you specifically sell yourself based on what they are looking for.

Know Your Customer

Whatever the campaign you are creating, you need to know your customers. Social media can be helpful here as you can look at similar interests of your existing customers to seek like-minded future customers. Knowing the age ranges, gender and locations of your target audiences helps you set the reach of social media posts. If you don’t know who you are aiming for, you will definitely miss the mark. What kind of things are important to the customer?

If you’re working on marketing a specific product, speak to customers, get some feedback. If the company has a customer support department, spend a bit of time reading customer emails, or getting involved on support calls. The insights you will get will take you far.

Check the Competition
Look at what similar companies are doing. Set up a SWOT analysis to see what their strengths are, and what you can do differently to overcome similar weaknesses you might face. Their successes and failures can be your learning opportunities.  

*This is a contributed post.