If you have excellent communication and interpersonal skills, as well as commercial awareness and the ability to think strategically, a career in marketing could be for you

As a marketing executive, you'll contribute to and develop integrated marketing campaigns to promote a product, service or idea. It's a varied role that includes:

  • planning
  • advertising
  • public relations
  • event organisation
  • product development
  • distribution
  • sponsorship
  • research.

Many organisations have marketing departments, meaning that you can work in both the private and public sector in areas ranging from finance, retail and media to voluntary and charitable organisations.

The exact nature of your role will vary depending on the size of the organisation and sector and whether the focus is on selling a product or service, or on raising awareness of an issue that affects the public.

Marketing executives may also be known as marketing officers or coordinators.

Responsibilities

As a marketing executive, you'll need to:

  • create awareness of and develop the brand you're marketing
  • communicate with target audiences and build and develop customer relationships
  • help with marketing plans, advertising, direct marketing and campaigns
  • support the marketing manager in delivering agreed activities
  • source advertising opportunities and place adverts in the press or on the radio
  • work closely with in-house or external creative agencies to design marketing materials such as brochures and adverts
  • write and proofread marketing copy for both online and print campaigns
  • produce creative content, including videos and blog posts
  • run social media channels (e.g. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) to enhance audience engagement
  • organise and attend events such as conferences, seminars, receptions and exhibitions
  • source and secure sponsorship
  • liaise with designers and printers and organise photo shoots
  • arrange the effective distribution of marketing materials
  • maintain and update customer databases
  • conduct market research, for example using customer questionnaires and focus groups
  • develop relationships with key stakeholders both internal and external.

With experience, you'll need to:

  • develop and implement a marketing strategy (often as part of a wider sales and marketing programme)
  • evaluate and review marketing campaigns, advertising and SEO to make sure the correct mediums are being used and campaigns are effective
  • track marketing performance and return on investment and prepare weekly or monthly reports for management
  • monitor and report on competitor activity
  • lead external agencies, when appropriate, to effectively manage events, press relationships, editorial requests, presentations, promotional materials and online activities
  • oversee and manage the marketing budget.

Salary

  • Marketing assistants start on salaries of around £18,000 to £22,000. As a marketing executive, you can expect to earn in the region of £20,000 to £30,000.
  • Senior marketing executives (with around five years' experience) can earn between £30,000 and £45,000, with marketing managers earning up to £60,000.
  • Marketing directors can earn from £60,000 to in excess of £100,000.

You may also receive additional benefits including profit-sharing schemes, medical insurance, gym membership, a company car and bonuses.

Salaries depend on a range of factors including your location and the sector you work in. According to the Marketing Week Annual Career and Salary Survey, the highest paid sectors are gaming and gambling, utilities and telecommunications/IT and the worst are education, charity and not-for-profit, and construction and property.

Your salary will also vary depending on the area of marketing you're in. For example, salaries are often higher for digital marketing. Use the Marketing Week salary calculator to find out what you could be earning.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

Working hours are generally 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. However, you may need to work some evenings or weekends when organising or attending events or when working on a big marketing campaign.

Part-time work is possible. Short-term contracts are also available, generally through recruitment agencies.

What to expect

  • You'll usually be office-based, but will attend meetings with clients, partner organisations and suppliers, as well as a range of events and exhibitions. You may be expected to socialise with stakeholders and clients to build and develop relationships.
  • Self-employment or freelance work is possible for experienced marketing professionals.
  • Opportunities exist in most large towns and cities but are less common in rural areas.
  • The work is often challenging and fast-paced as you'll need to meet tight deadlines, juggle various projects at the same time and work with external suppliers and creative agencies.
  • If you're working for an international company, you may need to travel or work abroad.

Qualifications

A career in marketing is open to all graduates, but a degree or HND in the following subjects may be particularly useful:

  • advertising
  • business or management
  • communications
  • IT or computer science
  • marketing
  • psychology.

In addition, employers also look for a combination of personal qualities and experience. An awareness of digital media techniques is also useful. Look at job adverts to get a feel for the combination of skills and industry knowledge that employers expect.

If you don't have a degree, you can enter the profession at marketing assistant level and build up your skills and experience. Marketing apprenticeships are available at intermediate and advanced level. The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) also provides a range of professional qualifications, for example the CIM Level 3 Foundation Certificate in Marketing aimed at apprentices and those starting out in their marketing career.

It can be useful, although not essential, to have a relevant postgraduate qualification. Search for postgraduate courses in marketing.

Skills

You will need to have:

  • communication and interpersonal skills
  • customer-facing skills
  • commercial awareness and business acumen
  • the ability to think strategically
  • copywriting and design skills in order to produce marketing materials for both print and online
  • creativity
  • an eye for detail
  • analytical skills to evaluate marketing campaigns
  • drive and self-motivation
  • a flexible approach to work
  • the ability to work well under pressure
  • teamwork and the ability to foster good working relationships
  • influencing and negotiation skills
  • skills in IT and social media
  • numeracy skills.

The ability to speak foreign languages and understand other cultures is also helpful, especially when working for multinational companies.

Work experience

You'll usually need some relevant work experience to get a job. Look for vacation work, placements, job shadowing or part-time work in marketing or related areas. Getting work as a marketing assistant or junior marketing executive is a good first step. Some larger employers offer students paid summer placements. Any job that offers experience of sales, customer service, market research or public relations will be helpful.

Make the most of any marketing placements or the integrated placement year on your course to develop your skills and build a network of contacts. CIM student membership provides access to industry events, workshops and networking opportunities.

Employers

As marketing is a core element of all organisations, you can find marketing opportunities across all industry sectors ranging from the financial, consumer and information technology industries to not-for-profit organisations, such as charities, local government and higher education institutions.

You can also find work with full-service marketing agencies, which develop and implement marketing strategies and campaigns on behalf of their clients. These agencies offer a multidisciplinary service to clients looking for a full communications package. This is because they either lack marketing expertise or need to supplement their in-house marketing support.

Marketing is an increasingly competitive and specialised industry and is a popular career choice for graduates.

Look for job vacancies at:

Recruitment agencies also handle vacancies. Alternatively, you could make targeted speculative applications to marketing consultancies and in-house marketing departments. Word of mouth and networking are other ways of finding out about vacancies.

Professional development

The majority of training takes places on the job, although larger companies may have formal graduate training schemes. Continuing professional development (CPD) is essential for developing your skills and knowledge and is usually encouraged by employers. Typical activities can include:

  • attending networking events
  • completing short courses on areas such as search engine marketing, email marketing, legal issues and data and analytics
  • reading the trade press
  • completing a professional qualification.

Professional qualifications are offered by organisations such as CIM and you may receive financial support, study leave or both from your employer to complete them. These qualifications include:

  • Certificate in Professional Marketing Level 4 (Intermediate) – for junior marketers wanting to the gain the knowledge and skills to progress in marketing
  • Diploma in Professional Marketing (Level 6 intermediate) – for marketers working at a strategic level (e.g. marketing executive or marketing manager) who want to develop their skills and knowledge
  • Digital Diploma in Professional Marketing (Level 6 intermediate) – for marketers in operational, supervisory or management roles who want to develop their digital marketing skills and strategy
  • Marketing leadership programme Level 7 (Advanced) – for experienced and senior marketers working at strategic marketing or management level.

With the right combination of experience, qualifications and CPD, you can apply for CIM chartered marketer status.

Professional development, qualification and training courses are also offered by organisations such as the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing (IDM). IDM provides a range of professional qualification courses in digital and direct marketing at award, certificate, diploma and postgraduate level.

Career prospects

There's a career structure within marketing and you can expect to progress from marketing executive to senior marketing executive once you've gained relevant experience and skills.

Taking relevant professional qualifications can help your career prospects and is becoming essential for senior marketing roles. After three to ten years you can expect a promotion to marketing manager, with a move to marketing director after 10 to 15 years. Gaining chartered status with the CIM can help provide evidence of your skills and experience.

To increase your experience, you could move between in-house departments or work in a marketing agency or consultancy for several different clients. You might also want to move companies or sectors to progress your career more quickly.

You can choose to remain in a general marketing role or specialise in a specific area of marketing, such as:

  • event management
  • direct marketing
  • online marketing
  • marketing communications
  • public relations.

There are also opportunities to become a freelance marketing consultant.

Some marketing executives choose to move into other related roles such as sales, advertising or public relations.