So what do you ACTUALLY do in an entry level marketing role?
I graduated in < year > with a degree in marketing. Unfortunately my degree taught me absolutely nothing about digital marketing. In the past 2 years though I have taught myself a lot through online courses about things like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay Per Click (PPC), Content Marketing and Email Marketing.
Now the issue is, when applying for marketing coordinator positions, the job descriptions are incredibly inconsistent and hard to gauge what an actual day to day looks like. I'm comfortable enough to do these things as part of a team very well, however some of these job descriptions essentially sound like you are the Director Of Marketing. It seems like the companies hire you and say "okay, now do marketing". And then it's up to you to come up with Buyer Personas, figure out a marketing mix, figure out a media mix, and literally do everything
So to those of you who work in an entry level position or did in the past, what did your actual day to day look like? What are some things you had to learn on the job?.
TLDR: Marketing Coordinator job descriptions are confusing, what does the day to day of an entry level position actually look like?
I was a Marketing Coordinator. The business will have goals. If you're solely responsible for marketing functions, as I was, it may be your job to:
• Plan and carry out all necessary market research.
• Devise a realistic and coherent marketing strategy based on your research that aims to achieve marketing goals that support the business's goals.
• Execute that strategy.
• Analyse the results, take the most pertinent insights and use those to inform your next strategy.
It's a great way to learn and gain experience in different functions. You're basically a marketing department condensed into one person. It's hard but it's satisfying to have complete ownership of the entire lifecycle of your strategy. Especially if it goes well.
You'll be a researcher, a strategist, a copywriter, a graphic designer, a social media presence, a content creator, a publicist, a front end developer, an analyst and so on. I did everything from running ad campaigns to building a website to launching a podcast to designing a book cover. The great thing is you'll probably find a function that you enjoy and want to specialize in later. Your incompetencies may become painfully apparent so you'll know what knowledge gaps to fill or roles to avoid in future.
There are downsides. If you're the only person, there's not much chance of mentorship or feedback from a more experienced person. If there's a limited budget you won't get much of a chance to utilize paid channels. Plus if your paid ad campaign fails you may not have enough money to adjust it.
You may also think a lot of thoughts that begin with 'if only…' Such as if only we had more of a budget. If only we had someone to reply to all the social media messages. If only creating graphics wasn't so time-consuming. If only we could hire an agency to help with this campaign. The good thing is these thoughts lead you to explore process improvement, automation and offloading to third party solutions.
In the beginning I tried to do everything. By the end I had learned that rigid organisation, consistency and sole focus on the most valuable actions lead to success. You have to be ruthless with your time and attention. Accept and work with limitations. If you can temper your expectations and set realistic goals you can do it. You also need to be able to get your employer on board with your vision and win their trust.
This is a really great answer thank you so much!
That sounds like way too much for one person though. From what I have understood, your first marketing job you are probably going to do a bit of everything. And I welcome that. I'm excited to see what area I enjoy the most and may want to specialize in.
However, to just be completely on your own to create everything? I definitely wouldn't know where to start. I wouldn't trust myself with my current level of knowledge to do such a thing. That sounds like a job for a Director, or at the very least someone with a decade of hard experience in the industry.
This industry seems really weird in how it's structured. I could not imagine an entry level accountant being expected to do auditing, tax accounting, Book Keeping and Managerial Accounting. They would have no idea how to be an entire accounting department.
Starting out you will want to work at an agency not in house
I have heard this before. Have you worked in an agency before? What was the day to day like?
Also do agencies require that you already have hard experience before working for them?
I work for a startup digital marketing agency and I really enjoy it. We have a small team and a lot of clients. I was hired as a copywriter but I actually ended up building a lot of websites for new clients (about 4 per month). I do the strategy for the website structure, wire frame, and then my colleague handles most of the development although I contribute a lot on that front as well. I write all the content for the website and then look over it with the client to get their feedback. After the website is built we set up the tracking tools and start running ads. I spend a lot of time in Google ads optimizing our accounts. I manage our graphic design contractors and a number of social media accounts. After the new site is launched we start shifting focus into other areas, like Client Relationship Management (CRM) and email marketing. I write a lot of blog content and Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) to build our Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I create a lot of sales sheets and 10x content for lead magnets. There are a lot of areas of responsibility to cover but our leadership team is very supportive. I'm never left hanging on a project. I can bring up questions about anything if I get stuck but I do my best to figure it out for myself before raising a question. If I can't solve the issue in 20 minutes I bring it to my colleagues and it's solved in 5.
The reason I say you should work at an agency instead of in house is because you'll never get this range of experience in house. I'm learning a lot about how every element of digital marketing works together. When I'm satisfied, I'll take this experience and specialize in a role or get into management. Every day is a little different but I break it out like this
8-9 small daily tasks, check emails, plan my day
9-10 team meeting to discuss tasks
10-1030 action immediate items from the meeting
1030-12 first task
1-230 second task
230-4 third task
Done at 4 and on my way home. I like to plan 3 tasks for every day.
I think it's important to emphasize that this is very unusual. Most agency work is 9am – 9pm with insanely tight deadlines. Just the nature of the industry but is a great way to learn quickly
Sounds like a great way to end up with stomach ulcers and high blood pressure quickly too
It really depends what type of company you're going to work at.
At a large corporate, an entry level marketing job will be a lot of basic and perhaps tedious work-which isn't to shit on that, you've got to start somewhere. That might look like writing a blog post, doing some market research, helping collecting reporting data. Most of that will be in an assist position, with lots of overseeing and (hopefully) training.
If you join a startup, they're likely resource strapped and want to hire someone with experience to run the show, or are going to hire you and expect you to do a bit of everything, teach yourself and just go and do. Your day to do will look chaotic: come up with tactics to help raise awareness of the the company and execute them.
I went the startup route. I spent a few years consuming everything I could on the internet and then tested it out in the company(s) I was working for. It was a good balance between low pay but freedom to experiment. I could take charge of the strategy and see what worked, which accelerated my growth MUCH faster than if I'd started at the bottom in a corporate.
Things to avoid:
• Companies that hire you as a junior marketer but actually ask you to cold email people. This is sales, not marketing.
• Your boss has zero clue about marketing, but still won't give you freedom to experiment. At your early-stage you either need training or freedom to try and fail.
Hope that helps!
Reminds me of an interview where the guy was trashing the previous marketing manager for their failure to execute stuff and then told me what a shoestring budget they have and then told me that he's looking for someone to be bold and try new initiatives…
My first "entry level" role (after a few years of freelancing) was a Creative Marketing Specialist.
I made a lot of content. Written content, graphics, photo, video, recruiting website, merchandise website, and more random tasks. Lots of fun for me because I love writing and I have a strong photo/design background.
Now I'm a Communications Manager. I lead marketing plus recruiting for my company. I basically do all the same tasks as my last company (but with less stress and much more pay… my previous company was nutty lol)
Anyone who says you need to work at an agency is not correct. I've never worked for an agency, instead I hustled in freelancing for 5 years. Honestly I don't think most people have the discipline for freelance, so they go to agencies to learn the business. Both should work, just choose the path that makes most sense to you.
I'm glad you found an area you excel in. This is something I find exciting about marketing. You can find an area and get really good at it.
I am curious though, how did you go about freelancing? How were you comfortable enough to just start out doing that? Clients hire freelancers usually because they don't know the first thing about an area they need done. With freelancing I would be afraid I'm doing a horrible job and I would never know because I'm not getting the vital feedback necessary from someone else who knows better than me. Especially with copy. I feel like I could write the worst copy ever for a client and they'd look at super impressed because they don't know any better.
Freelancing is a weird way to start-usually people develop the skills, THEN branch off on their own.
I taught myself almost everything I know outside of college (I was an English major). While I was still in school, I made a website/portfolio with mock businesses and other design concepts.
Then I started going to small businesses and seeing if they needed anything. I didn't have many connections, but I was hungry and knew my work was good enough for the average business owner. I started asking everyone I knew if they had a reference for me.
I started off cheap (biz card designs for $50, a Squarespace website for $800, etc.) and before I know it, I was getting referred like crazy. Ended up finding one VERY important client, who practically ended up being my employer because they needed so much design and marketing stuff done.
This client was a huge basis for my career, because they needed so much content made. I ended up getting photography published with this company, and getting tons of great material for my portfolio (it was an interior design firm, so the work was nice and shiny to look at. People loved my portfolio at this point.)
After that job I actually went back into the restaurant industry (I moved to another state in the US) and I had to start from scratch as far as my network. After a long time of job searching, I finally got a job as a Creative Marketing Specialist. This was my first "full time" marketing job under a specific company.
Then I quit that job and met the owner of my current company on my last day of my two weeks notice at the previous company-which was very fortunate! Now I'm a Communications Manager and while I'm still challenged by new things every day, I still get to flex a lot of my design/photo/video skills 🙂
I also graduated in < year > (not with a marketing degree, but I work in marketing). Right out of college, I was hired as a Marketing Coordinator in a position where I mainly ran the company's social media pages, created social media content, sourced and ordered promotional material, worked with HR in their recruitment efforts, worked with business development for trade shows, company communications, event planning, and kept up with employee engagement tasks/video/photography. A Marketing Coordinator role typically gives you insight into all of the branches of the company so you have general knowledge in a lot of areas. After a year I quit my job for another Marketing Coordinator role (this one fully remote), where I still create company communications and work with people from each branch of our company team, but I also create marketing decks/wrap reports/and analyze data. I also do a lot less of all of the other tasks I did before because I'm on a larger marketing team where everyone has more specific tasks.
What was your degree in if I may ask? Did you do an internship that had to do with marketing?
I will say that your first job sounds like the ideal first marketing job. Rather than being expected to do literally everything you got to focus on one area but also get a feel for the other areas.
This was an in house team?
It was definitely a good first job, but I ended up feeling like I wouldn't learn anything new if I stayed there. It was in house. I was an English major in college, and during that time I did a marketing internship for two years. I didn't really learn anything I didn't already know besides some basic graphic design skills though, so it mainly just looked good on my resume.
I definitely felt this post. I graduated earlier this year and landed my first marketing job. It was definitely a "now do marketing" job. I WAS the marketing department. That is honestly not what I signed up for or was told how the role would be. It was unrealistic of them to expect that from me when they KNEW I had JUST graduated college. The company was quite a mess and I dipped out of there quickly. I totally agree with your post though. These no consistency and these seemingly "entry level" titles have director level responsibilities. Titles are all over the pl e in marketing. Like dang can't I just find a job where I can grasp some real world marketing duties and learn some basics to start and grow. All these jobs seem to want you to know and do everything right off the bat and it's frustrating.
Oh crap. That's my huge fear with applying to all these marketing position. Sorry that happened.
I am curious, how lost were you in the role? Did you do any internships in college?
It's definitely wack though. Marketing seems to work the opposite of most industries. I used accounting before but it's true. Most of my friends that became accountants just do auditing right out of college. My father who has 40+ years of experience in accounting does every area for his clients.
But in marketing you're supposed to do literally everything out of the gate and then later specialize in a certain area.
Thank you! You live and you learn. Lol I'm just worried I'll get another job like that again so I'm trying to be careful. Lol
I was really lost because I had no other marketing people to get guidance from or ask questions to. Nobody there had any idea what I was supposed to be doing. The person I reported to was only there half the time and only gave me some general instructions on what he wanted. I couldn't get a straight answer from people as to what exactly they did there and were trying to expand to, but was told basically "go market our services and our expanding services". Like what… this was literally from day one. And unfortunately I was almost fully online due to c0v1d for my last few semesters of college and once I got back to campus they hadn't started up any internship opportunities back up yet. The other places I tried to intern at either wouldn't respond or weren't accepting interns at the time due to c0v1d. I found remote internship opportunities to be really competitive too. It was so disappointing cus an internship would have been so great to have.
Yes I totally agree that marketing is so different than other industries when it comes to this. It's so frustrating because it has been so hard to get my foot in the door. We shouldn't have to know everything right out of college. Lol I like that you brought up accounting because I think it's a good example how different other industries are when starting out.
That sucks. So you haven't had any luck finding anything else since? Unfortunately there is a huge gap between what actually happens in this industry and what they teach us in school. And it seems like you're just expected to learn it all on your own if you didn't do internships.
There's many online resources to learn about digital marketing skills and concepts that I have utilized in the past 2 years. They're very helpful to learn but unfortunately it still doesn't replace a lack of hard experience.
Sorry that happened with the internships. Internships seem to be everything in this field.
Totally agree. And ya there's definitely a gap between what I learned in college and what you're expected to know going into a marketing job it seems like. I wish they had taught more hard skills that would be more applicable in a marketing job. I've also been learning new things on my own to add to my resume as well.
I've had some luck with a few marketing jobs since as far as getting interviews but ended up not getting them. I think it's my lack of experience holding me back. But like how do I get experience without getting a job, and how do I get a job without experience. Lmao that famous vicious circle 😂 But I've had a couple other interviews I'm waiting to hear back on and another one upcoming soon so I'm hoping something comes of one of those! 🤞🏻
All the best!
Unfortunately my degree taught me absolutely nothing about digital marketing
That's because Marketing is a broad discipline. The degree covers all topics in Marketing (including intro to Digital Marketing). If you want to get good at Direct Message (DM), then you have to go further and get specialized (take a class, certification, etc.).
Similar to how a new graduate with an Accounting degree can't exactly just jump into Auditing or Forensic Accounting. These specializations require additional training & education like getting a Cost Per Action (CPA) license.
the job descriptions are incredibly inconsistent and hard to gauge what an actual day to day looks like.
A Marketing Coordinator position is entry-level. Which means you do grunt work such as running reports, reporting trends to your boss, managing the Marketing calendar & deliverable deadlines, coordinating events/tradeshows, etc.
However, as time goes by, you get experience and are given more responsibility which is grooming you for a promotion to become a Marketing Manager, then Director of Marketing, and so forth.
some of these job descriptions essentially sound like you are the Director Of Marketing. It seems like the companies hire you and say "okay, now do marketing". And then it's up to you to come up with Buyer Personas, figure out a marketing mix, figure out a media mix, and literally do everything
Depends on the job and company. What you're describing is likely to happen at an ad agency. A lot of these questions and "tests" are just to get a personalized response from the candidate. In all my years doing E-Commerce Marketing & Merchandising, not once have I been asked to do a 4P/SIVA analysis in order to get hired.
If you haven't already done so, create a portfolio website and post any finished deliverables such as brochures you've done on InDesign/Photoshop, high response social media posts, videos you've edited, and articles/blog posts you've created to showcase your Marketing talent to employers. Make sure your portfolio link is on your resume.
My sister has an entry level marketing job that she transitioned to after working in the family business in the marketing department under me in the direct mail department. I had her mail merging and handling production of mail pieces. She now does social media and some direct mail for an electronics manufacturer.
If I were to hire someone for an entry level marketing position right now, I would have them build landing pages and configure campaigns based on predefined setting while monitoring results. My core focus would be teaching them media buying and then allow them to specialize in the area that they seem to like the best.
95% of companies are ignorant at what they need and they think that marketing is posting on Facebook and Twitter. Those are the jobs to avoid if you really care about marketing.
You want to find someone who gets direct response. The biggest problem that someone who is a master direct response marketer faces is that most people who apply for marketing jobs come across as vegetables. Direct response requires thought and study.
… you would hire a marketer to build landing pages? That's such a different skill set!
Absolutely. Any marketer in < year > who is worth anything should know basic landing page design. Software is extremely easy to learn.
I found it was pretty rare for there to be set day-to-day at any point in my career.
There's also always a gap between school and experience. I graduated 11 years ago and was a straight C student who never did internships. My experience was I just needed to take jobs and build a resume to launch into better positions.
Back then Search Engine Optimization (SEO) definitely not part of the curriculum (I'm an SEO Manager at a big company now). I learned a lot from the internet and took some very mediocre low-level marketing and SEO jobs, built a resume, and just kept being ready to jump at new opportunities.
My opinion is that in your first 5-6 years as a marketer you should never stay somewhere longer than 18 months. You'll increase your pay the best this way and will see a lot of different organizations and gain a lot of skills.
You'll end up with some of those bullshit jobs people are talking about here but you'll earn some money, get some credibility, and learn what you're looking for in a career.
It's impossible to be fully prepared or get the perfect situation most likely, you just need to take some leaps of faith and grind it out.
I'd also say to make sure you're up on your soft skills like being good in an interview, understanding what the bosses care about (revenue generation), and how to get people to do what you need (still haven't totally unlocked that).
Good luck on your journey, it's not always fun but it can be a lucrative field when you find your path.
An edit: I think I agree with some agency people that it's a great way to supercharge your learning. Although some agencies knowledge share a bit more than others. I didn't do enough agency work and I always wish I had. I've been mostly a career in-house guy. The pay is better but there's a lot of flying solo and learning things yourself.