Marketing and sales experience are important factors for a sales promotion job where you'll run creative marketing campaigns

You'll use a range of strategies to entice customers including competitions, samples, coupons, promotions and point-of-sale displays.

These incentives reach the consumer in a variety of ways, such as in retail outlets, at events and exhibitions, through direct mail, press advertising, websites, text messaging and social media.

You will usually be involved in all stages of the process, making sure a campaign runs smoothly. You have to keep everybody who's involved in the campaign informed and up to date, and provide central administrative support to the team. Account executive is the typical entry level position for recent graduates.


As a sales promotion account executive you'll need to:

  • research clients and markets
  • liaise with clients, agency staff and external suppliers of goods and services
  • develop creative ideas for promotional marketing campaigns
  • report to the account manager
  • brief agency staff, such as creative teams and production departments
  • attend meetings and share ideas at brainstorming sessions, reporting back details of discussions
  • write and proofread promotional marketing copy
  • monitor the progress of promotions and produce status reports
  • compile budgets and cost supplies and projects
  • prepare and check invoices and bills
  • maintain information on projects and clients
  • assist in the preparation of presentations to clients
  • carry out a variety of administrative tasks.


  • You would generally start on a salary in the region of £18,000 to £24,000.
  • With experience it is possible to progress to account manager or senior account executive level, where salaries can range from £25,000 to £38,000 depending on your level of experience.
  • Salaries for account directors/senior account directors are around £40,000 to £75,000+. The higher end of this scale is likely to be for the most senior positions with large agencies.

Some posts include incentives such as a company car allowance, bonus scheme, pension, private health and life insurance.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

Standard hours are 9am to 5pm but you'll sometimes need to work beyond this, particularly prior to the launch of a big campaign or when preparing to pitch to clients. It may also be necessary to attend promotional events in the evenings.

Part-time work and job shares are usually available. Self-employment is possible after several years' experience. Agencies also use freelance staff.

What to expect

  • While the work is largely office based, you may be required to visit clients, printers and suppliers and attend events.
  • Opportunities are available throughout the country. There are large agencies in all major cities, as well as many small regional employers.
  • Dress code depends on the agency, but is frequently informal or smart casual in the office. Smart business dress may be required when meeting clients or attending events.
  • The need for travel within a working day can increase with seniority. International travel is not usual, but travel within the UK is reasonably common as you progress in your career.


You may be able to enter the role without a degree as employers are often looking for experience and relevant skills. However, some will specifically want graduates and in these instances, although any degree or HND is usually accepted, the following subjects may be particularly useful:

  • advertising
  • business studies or management
  • economics
  • English
  • information technology
  • marketing
  • media
  • psychology.

Larger agencies run graduate training schemes but may be willing to recruit those with an HND, if the candidate has the required skills and personal qualities.

A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not essential. A combination of aptitude, enthusiasm, commitment and business awareness can be more important than specific academic qualifications. Consider getting some experience in a sales or marketing area to help with this.


You'll need to have:

  • interpersonal and communication skills
  • creativity and ingenuity
  • problem-solving skills
  • commercial awareness and general business sense
  • organisational skills
  • the ability to prioritise your workload and to work to strict deadlines
  • motivation and enthusiasm
  • self-confidence and the ability to persuade
  • the ability to use your initiative and be proactive
  • attention to detail
  • teamworking skills
  • the ability to work well under pressure
  • administrative skills
  • an open mind and a can-do attitude.

Work experience

Experience in promotional work, sales or customer service is extremely useful. As some agencies specialise in working with particular sectors, any knowledge or experience relating to that area may give you an advantage.

Undertaking work experience with a marketing agency or in any other business environment (if possible within a marketing department) can help you to become known to an agency and will help your applications. Use this experience to network and make further contacts.

Work experience opportunities are not always advertised so speculative applications are worthwhile. Relevant professional bodies, such as the Institute of Promotional Marketing (IPM), sometimes provide lists of their members, which you can use to research opportunities and potential future employers.

Some companies offer marketing internships which you could take in a placement year in your degree or in your summer holiday.

Well-informed, targeted applications are vital, so make sure you've researched the sector and agency before applying for work experience. It's also important to keep up to date with industry news and developments so reading any related trade press will help.

Find out more about the different kinds of work experience and internships that are available.


Traditional marketing disciplines, such as branding, advertising and sales promotion, have blurred and few agencies now specialise exclusively in sales promotion, working more broadly instead in the field of promotional marketing.

Most sales promotion account executives work in integrated marketing communications agencies, which offer clients a range of below-the-line services, especially sales promotion, direct marketing and digital media. Some agencies have a stronger focus on sales promotion than on other areas, but there is considerable overlap between these activities.

Traditional above-the-line advertising agencies (those specialising in television, radio, outdoor and cinema advertising) may also have a below-the-line/sales promotion division.

Digital media has made a significant impact on direct marketing techniques and it’s likely you'd be working with the latest digital and data technologies.

Opportunities also exist in client side work, being employed directly by a company to carry out their marketing rather than an agency.

Look for job vacancies at:

It's also worth making speculative applications directly to agencies.

Recruitment agencies specialising in marketing and media also advertise vacancies.

Professional development

Large agencies may offer structured in-house training and mentoring when you first join. With smaller agencies, training may be carried out on the job.

There are also a range of external courses and qualifications available through various organisations. For example, the the Institute of Promotional Marketing (IPM) offers a range of courses recognised by the industry, including:

  • IPM Foundation Certificate
  • IPM Diploma
  • IPM Incentive and Motivation Diploma.

The IPM Foundation Certificate is aimed at those at the beginning of their promotional marketing careers and covers the promotional marketing industry in general, the audiences and channels with which you work and the legal code.

The IPM Diploma provides more in-depth knowledge of all aspects of the role including the different ways that promotions are communicated and the various specialisms within promotional marketing. You'll need at least two years' experience within the sector before taking this qualification.

The IPM also runs a series of workshops and online education awards and provides a Professional Pathway to show how its qualifications can fit within your career path.

Courses are also available with other organisations such as the Alliance of Independent Agencies which offers a Diploma in Integrated Marketing as well as several other short courses and training sessions. While courses and diplomas in digital, direct and data marketing are offered by the Institute of Data and Marketing (IDM).

Career prospects

From the junior role as a sales promotion account executive, and with enough experience, you can progress through the roles of senior account executive, account manager and account director.

An IPM qualification may help your chances of career development but your performance and success in the job are the main things that determine your promotion prospects.

Promotional marketing is a fast-paced business and progression to more senior roles may be rapid. It's not unusual to reach account director level in less than ten years.

Further promotion beyond account director is possible. This could be to more senior strategic posts, such as group account director, or to board-level roles. However, opportunities at this level are limited and some account directors may move between agencies, either to experience bigger companies or to focus on different sectors.

With substantial experience and a strong network of contacts you may consider setting up your own agency. It is also possible to move to a client-side role, where you would work directly for a company to increase their sales and promote their services, rather than being based in an agency working for different clients.

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