When it comes to organizational goals companies and firms across every industry want to increase revenue and accelerate their growth.
Marketing as a discipline and process is concerned with finding new pathways to increase growth along with making existing pathways more scalable and efficient.
The upside for this role is when you get good at it you’re open to many opportunities across industry, company size, and international borders. Simply, when you learn how to make companies more money or can help startups acquire users, you can find a job.
Other benefits for marketing roles is you have high creative autonomy with the opportunity to own projects from start to finish.
Of course, there are also challenges. First, it’s a metric driven field and you need a level of resilience and the ability to bounce back when what seemed like a great idea doesn’t quite pan out.
On top of that, being able to take these experiences and pivot to something new without following victim to the sunken cost fallacy is a huge part of learning to be an effective marketer.
Utilizing my experience working both in the marketing department and as a coach in our bootcamp helping participants crush entry level marketing roles, I put together this guide designed to act as a roadmap to take someone with little or no marketing experience and help them thrive in their first marketing role.
The Mindset of Learning by Doing
Before diving into the craft of marketing itself, there are a few elements of the Praxis education philosophy that will vastly accelerate both how quickly you get a job, but, more importantly, how quickly you develop concrete skills that create value.
Personal development project (or PDP)
The personal development project is a 3o day challenge that help you develop self mastery on a tangible, specific skill. This is an incredibly valuable exercise when preparing for you first marketing role. While you’re applying to roles you can develop a PDP to master or uplevel the skills needed for roles that look enticing.
These projects are much better signals than credentials or online courses and the next best thing compared to experience in an actual role.
As an example, say you’re looking to write blog and social media copy for a software as a service startup. You can develop a PDP where you practice writing headlines and blog about the results like this copywriter did.
Or, if you’re more interested in data analytics you could set up a website with a fully functional google tag manager setup by following an online tutorial and creating a checklist that you can implement to help other sites improve their data collection
Check out our full post on building a PDP for more ideas and a template that helps with developing your own project.
Practice, Practice, Theory
Strongly related to the PDP is the philosophy of practice, practice, theory. The fundamental premise behind this idea is that to learn something you need a meaningful context to apply that knowledge. Isaac Morehouse uses the simple and powerful metaphor of bike riding.
Just as we can’t learn to ride a bike by reading bike riding books we can’t learn marketing by reading marketing books.
Check out more about this idea in our FAQ about how our education model is different by clicking here.
Honing your Marketing Craft
Now that we’ve explored some mindsets that will help accelerate your progress with learning a marketing craft, let’s start exploring some of the tangible directions you can go in for your first marketing role.
I’ve broken this section into four broad, fundamental roles in marketing that have a lot of staying power and will put you in a great position to create value in both the short and longer term.
Below that, I’ve added a brief summary of more specialized skills that are excellent to learn now, but are shifting dynamically in these incredibly exciting, fast moving times.
Interestingly, one of the most common fears that folks share with me is that they’ll learn a marketing skill that becomes irrelevant.
The power of the 30 day PDP is that even if you pick up a skill that’s outdated in a few years you can still create a lot of value, make money, pick up experience, create relationships, and develop a reputation so I would not let that fear hold you back from mastering a more specialized skill if it seems intriguing to you.
Fundamental Marketing Roles
One: Data Analytics
Data analytics is an excellent field to learn because metrics and reporting is at the foundation of any successful marketing team.
One of the huge benefits for learning this skill early in my career is that I got to talk with folks in senior leadership roles about high level business objectives since I owned the weekly analytics reporting. This was and continues to be a phenomenal education and I suggest it for folks getting their feet wet in marketing and business in general
To learn data analytics for marketing I’d suggest getting familiar with Google’s tools for tracking analytics.
Here is a list of helpful tutorials and checklists that you can use to supplement your PDP and data analytics practice:
- How to use Google Analytics like you know what you’re doing (with a helpful Google Analytics scorecard)
- Annie Cushing’s analytics audit spreadsheet (and a blog post to make it more decipherable )
- Google Tag Manager tutorial from Measure School
Two: Copywriting and Content Marketing
Writing is a constantly undervalued hard skill that’s one of the fastest ways to set yourself apart as a marketer. At Praxis, we have an entire month of the program entirely dedicated to publishing a blog post everyday.
It’s hard enough to find folks who can write and communicate well in general let alone finding someone who can help persuade potential buyers and users to take action.
Here are some of my favorite resources a mix of classic texts with some contemporary masters. If you decide to work on your writing craft they will help you sharpen your skills.
- The Boron Letters
- Ogilvy on Advertising
- The Ad Contrarian
- Copy Hackers
- Neville Medhora’s Copywriting Blog
Over the last few years video has exploded in the marketing world and now it’s an essential part of most successful marketing campaigns. There is an enormous opportunity to create value with this skill set because their are still many technical bottlenecks to producing memorable videos.
Whether you pick up editing skills, learn to master lighting, or can put the whole process together from building out a script to publishing the video to social media by diving into this aspect of marketing can help you score experience working with high growth marketing teams.
Here are my tips for getting started with video even if you’ve only played around with your phone:
- Check out Paolo from Growth Tribe and his series on mastering video for marketers
- Another great video from Growth Tribe on video this time with Denis Yu
- Download and review the use cases of Loom for marketing. Start using it!
Four: Design, User Experience, and User Onboarding
When I first got started in marketing it was shocking to see how small design improvements can skyrocket growth and make huge differences when it comes to performance.
Out of the four foundational skills we’ve covered this is the most difficult one to quantify objectively. It’s hard to break great design down into objective steps and elements. There’s something about a really good piece of design that pops and works on a subjective level.
For this reason, I think it’s even more crucial to internalize some of the strategies and ideas from the mindset portion of this roadmap if you’re feeling called to this marketing path. The best way to start developing the tacit knowledge and skill that every experienced designer has is to start shipping design projects.
However, here are some of my favorite guides and resources that will help you grow immensely if you read them in tandem with your practice.
- Hack Design
- Canva tips and tricks by my colleague Lolita Allgeyer
- The user onboarding collection of design teardowns
- The UX Booth guide to information architecture
Dynamic Marketing Skills
In this section, I’m going to list some of the more dynamic fields and fast moving fields in marketing. These are excellent skills to learn in a PDP environment. For each, I’ve added my favorite resource as well as the foundational marketing role it pairs best with. This will allow you to pick both a foundational role to work on mastering as well as a more specialized skill to make yourself more valuable.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Resource: Josh Bachynski SEO Course
Pairs with: Data analytics
Pay per click advertising (especially Google and Facebook)
Resource: Wordstream PPC Guide
Pairs with: Copywriting
Social Media Management
Resource: The Traffic Generation Cafe
Pairs with: Design
Resource: Neil Patel on email marketing
Pairs with: Copywriting
Bonus tip: Generalist or specialize?
One of the biggest debates in marketing is whether it’s best to specialize in one of these roles or become reasonably competent in as many as possible. Personally, I like to split the difference and believe strongly in the t-shaped heuristic for developing marketing skills.
In short, you go both broad with many skills and pick out something you really enjoy to master. Growth tribe did an excellent breakdown of what this looks like for marketing roles and skills with a test you can take by clicking here.
Product management and productivity:
Getting things done, doing what you say you’re going to do, and becoming obsessed with creating are all key traits and soft skills for a marketer.
Because of this, there are many productivity systems, philosophies, and tools on the market. When I first began my career I got obsessed with a few of them, but something I’ve both learned with experienced and observed from highly effective marketers I admire is that they take what they need from these systems and fit them into their own creative process.
The thing to avoid is spending a lot of time procrastinating from real work by using a productivity system with a lot of ornate steps.
With that being said, here are some of the best sources and ideas on project management and productivity that will give you some good raw material for developing your system:
- Agile Marketing: The Big idea here is helping us avoid Parkinson’s law. To summarize it, projects will expand to fill however much time we allot for them. Agile helps us with this by working with shorter time frames like 7 – 10 days.
- Getting things done: This is a system that can be quite time consuming, but it’s worth mining for excellent ideas. I particularly like the mindsweep component of the system.
- Deep work by Cal Newport: This is the classic book on increasing focus and concentration
- Pomodoro Technique: The pomodoro approach was pioneered originally by software developers who were struggling with burn out. I like it because if you follow the methodology you can create a work day that’s both incredibly productive and comfortable.
In this post we covered some important midsets to help accelerate your learning, the foundational marketing skills, some more specialized skills you can pair with them, and a variety of productivity and project management techniques you can use to utilize them all effectively.
If you try these ideas out, have your own recommendations, or have any questions hit us up on Twitter! Good luck on your marketing journey