The best marketing career advice that I can offer is something that has always seemed to be a “no brainer” to me; to be a great marketer you have to really understand your customers. You need to understand how they perceive themselves, what motivates them, how they shop, what sources they use to gain information on the category, what other options they might be considering, etc. Successful marketing strategies and tactics can easily flow from deep customer insight.
Regarding marketing careers, my best piece of advice is to not skip “paying your dues” at the beginning of your career. You might want to be promoted more quickly or take on more responsibility faster. That is “ok” but you must know how to do the basics, the “blocking and tackling.” I am as successful as I am as a marketing consultant because I have actually fielded research studies, moderated focus groups, developed media plans and advertising campaigns, written tag lines, developed brand identity systems, launched new products, launched integrated marketing campaigns, designed and developed websites, optimized websites for search engines (SEO), developed customer relationship management (CRM) systems, developed selling scripts, made sales calls, designed and staffed trade show booths, analyzed Nielsen reports, managed retail shelf space, written “elevator speeches,” facilitated ideation sessions, produced customer appreciation events, established pricing strategies, written and implemented marketing plans, launched brands globally, etc.
You can’t become a competent marketing executive or consultant without these skills and insights. There are no shortcuts. And the broader the set of marketing skills that you possess, the more valuable you become at the senior most levels of marketing oversight. This all takes time but paying your dues will pay off in the long term.