Opinion

Five tips from top marketers on getting ahead in your career

What are the secrets to success in marketing? We picked the brains of some of our favourite marketers from Thomas Cook, BBC Worldwide, Holland and Barrett and Unilever.

Don't stop learning

"The key to success in marketing today is to be learning constantly"

In an age where digital and marketing trends come and go, like the changing of the wind, it is imperative that you never stop learning. Even if what you are learning is not directly associated with your current position or even your dream career, knoweldge is power and will only make you stronger.

If you are not learning anything new in your current role, you will not only fail to get ahead, but will in turn lose value as your skills and knowledge become outdated and redundant over time.

In the words of Sara Holt, head of brand and global campaigns at BBC Worldwide: "The key to success in marketing today is to be learning constantly".

Take risks

"Take risks, bravery is very important. It is easy in retrospect to say how easy something was, but you need balls to try it first."

Playing it safe may feel more comfortable, but as the old adage says: 'nothing ventured nothing gained'.

Lysa Hardy, chief marketing officer at Holland and Barrett, says: "Mistakes are a good thing, you can learn from your mistakes, but the biggest mistake people make is to not take risks, because they are afraid.

"Taking risks is when some of the best work in marketing is produced."

This encouragement to take risks was also echoed by Tim Hunt, marketing director for Guardian News and Media, saying: "Take risks, bravery is very important. It is easy in retrospect to say how easy something was, but you need balls to try it first."

Look before you leap

"I've never learnt the role of a job in just a year, neither has anyone I know"

How long should you stay in a position before moving on? The answer may vary from person to person depending on a number of factors, as does the answer depending on which marketer you ask.

Geoff Seeley, global communications planning director at Unilever, warns: "Don't get sucked into a routine."  This is particularly true if you wish to avoid stagnation in development. But as Andrea Newman, head of advertising and marketing communications at HSBC, says:  "When you look at a CV and see someone has moved every 18 months, you get suspicious from the get-go." 

Martin Dyhouse, marketing director for Thomas Cook, adds: "If you have been in a job a year then offered a promotion, then great. But if [changing your job] off your own back, then be cautious as I've never learnt the role of a job in just a year, and neither has anyone I know".

Set realistic goals

"Always chase status, not salary, as the salary will follow"

Having a five-year career plan is a great thing, but don't be too set on a linear path. 

As Thomas Cook's Martin Dyhouse says "Wherever you want to end up, three, five or 15 years down the line – it is more of a zig-zag approach than a straight line - If you do not know where you want to be, then doing a wrong role will still be educational as you will learn about what you like and what you don't like.' 

Andrew Jones, marketing director at BSH Home Appliances, says that you should: "Make decisions for the right reasons, not just to get ahead. The path maybe non-linear but you will get there eventually."

HSBC's Andrea Newman  says something quite similar with: "Always chase status, not salary, as the salary will follow".

Do what you are good at

"Good work speaks for itself."

Capitalising on the areas in which you excel will always make you stand out from the pack. Jacco Van der Linden, marketing director of Heineken, says: "Play the game you are good at, and don't play anyone else's games.

"Playing politics to get ahead does not work - there are more people playing chess, rather than Monopoly, just concentrate on the task, and you will get recognised."

Or as Tim Hunt puts it more simply: "Good work speaks for itself."