A marketing manager is responsible for overseeing the company’s marketing strategy and plans. They have a handle on what’s going on in the company, but they also know what’s going on in the industry. They know who their competitors are and they’re aware of what their customers want as well. They’re in charge of finding out if their marketing initiatives are working and they make sure that the company stays on track with its goals.
Can you become a marketing manager with no marketing experience? It might seem like an impossible goal, but it is actually possible.
More experienced people with past management experience in other areas will be interested in the first section of this article. Utilising existing transferable skills and committing to developing your marketing knowledge can be a path for you into marketing management.
Younger people and those with less business experience will likely find more value in the second half of this article where we look at developing your career path from entry-level into management.
How to become a marketing manager with no marketing experience (Now)
Right now, to become a marketing manager with no marketing experience is a big challenge. There are however lots of transferable skills in the world of business that you may have picked up in previous management-level positions which could support your move into the field of marketing.
Transferable skills will support you however existing experience within the same organisation or industry could also be a big factor if you’re able to make the move into marketing management. With no proven record of working in marketing, demonstrating an acute knowledge of the company’s products, services and industry as a whole could go a long way.
Just because you have no prior marketing experience, doesn’t mean that you have to have no marketing knowledge. In past roles, you may have worked closely with a marketing department and rubbed shoulders with lots of Marketing Managers who have given you a good insight into the job role. You may also have studied marketing in years previous.
If none of the above paragraph describes you then you are at a disadvantage and it is advisable that if you are attempting a move over to marketing management that you study and research to find out more about the industry and the work involved.
As a Marketing Manager, it is unlikely that you would be involved in the day-to-day tasks such as posting to social media or sending out marketing emails but a good knowledge of them would be advantageous. However, in the more senior position of manager, you also need to be able to deliver on a marketing strategy and focus on the “bigger picture”.
If you are looking to make a sideways move within your existing organisation then ask around to discover more about the existing marketing department, what it does and what its current aims are.
Becoming a marketing manager with no prior marketing experience is certainly a huge task, so much so that many people won’t even be given a job interview to prove themselves. However, for the gifted few with the correct knowledge of the organisation and industry, transferable management skills and a commitment to learning more about marketing, it could be done.
Some organisations will outsource a lot of their marketing work to a marketing agency where the core responsibility for the manager will be to manage the agency and ensure the overall marketing strategy is being adhered to. Managers from backgrounds such as sales might find themselves more comfortable in this environment as they work with the marketing agency to deliver KPI’s and hit targets, similar to how a salesforce would operate.
Other businesses could have a competent marketing team in place below the manager who is highly capable and requires a manager with a sound strategic mindset and business acumen, but also “softer” and more interpersonal skills such as empathy, team building and motivation to get the best out of their team. Managers from departments such as Human Resources might find their skills valuable in this area.
Below is a list of transferable skills that are highly valued in any organisation and could support your move over to a marketing management role.
- Attention to Detail
- People Management
- Relationship Building
- Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
How to become a marketing manager with no marketing experience (in the future)
People looking to join the marketing industry at the bottom and work their way up to the Marketing Manager level will be pleased to know that this is definitely an obtainable goal and one that many people in the industry have achieved.
Those looking to take their first steps into marketing might be interested in our article How To Get Into Marketing Without Any Experience.
There is no magic number for how many years you should work in marketing before progressing to the management level. Some may have gained the knowledge and have the confidence to make the move after only a few years whereas some might want to take longer to build their knowledge base.
When you decide to attempt the jump into management, there are a few advisable things that you should have.
The first is a comprehensive knowledge of the marketing industry as a whole. Some marketers spend their time as a marketing executive, marketing assistant or similar focusing on one or a few areas of marketing such as web design, e-commerce, events or SEO. However, when stepping up to be a Marketing Manager you need to have a strong understanding of all aspects of marketing and how they fit into an organisation.
Secondly, a wider knowledge of the organisation, its products, services and how the overall marketing strategy of the organisation fits into the businesses goals and objectives. If you are looking for a promotion with your existing employer this can be achieved through continuous learning during your time there and by being inquisitive and talking to the right people.
If you are looking to move to a new employer you will need to do a good amount of research into that organisation to understand what they do. Moving up to the management level at another company when you have no prior management experience is a challenge. To be successful in doing so you will need to be confident in demonstrating your knowledge of marketing, the ability to develop and deliver on a marketing strategy and also personal traits such as adaptability, leadership, creativity and team building.
A great way to learn about what a Marketing Manager does is to talk directly with your manager and ask them for support and mentorship in your own career progression. A good manager should be happy to help you with this, even at the risk of losing you to another business in months or years to come.
Education is another factor to consider when looking to progress up the corporate ladder. Marketing managers generally hold a degree or other professional qualifications in marketing or business. Depending on the types of organisations you are targeting, they may insist on a recognised qualification. While work experience is valued more than ever by employers, you may find yourself competing for the more in-demand marketing jobs in your area against other people with qualifications who could use that to their advantage.
Gaining a degree or professional qualification in marketing doesn’t mean quitting your job and returning to school on a full-time basis. Many educational institutions will offer distance learning via the internet or night classes in your area.
If you are serious about gaining qualifications in marketing, discuss this with your employer and see if they would be prepared to pay the tuition fees for you, as what you learn will benefit them during your time there. If they cannot help and you are not in a financial position to undertake a nationally recognised qualification, then consider small courses on platforms such as Udemy, Khan Academy or Google Digital Garage. They might not give you a fancy college diploma, but if you can demonstrate knowledge and how it applies to the “real world” in a job interview, it can go a long way.
When you’re not working in a managerial position it can be difficult to develop the desirable skills that are looked for in a good manager. When opportunities arise to develop these skills, take them! These could involve things like leading on smaller projects to build leadership qualities or engaging with other departments and external stakeholders to develop relationship building and communication skills.
Being able to give examples of where you have developed these skills will be highly useful in a job interview situation and in convincing hiring managers that you are able and ready to take your first step up into the world of management.