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9 Skills That Helped Me Grow to a Senior Marketing Role

Climbing the marketing corporate ladder is easier than you thought. Read on to discover the most important skills that helped me grow to a senior marketing role
Andriy Zapisotskyi

Growth Marketing Consultant & Founder, GrowthMate

“Marketing is all about creativity, humanity, and authenticity." This is a cliché quote from one of the speakers at a recent Marketing United conference but it pretty much summarises what it takes to get to the upper echelons of marketing and sales.

Before you’ll start reading this article, I’d love to add a few cents about myself (hope this will answer the question of why to trust this guy :)).

For over 6 years, I have been consulting, and helping brands and product companies of small-mid sizes to attract, convert, and retain customers as a full-stack marketer.

I have also contributed to over 100 product and marketing blogs like HubSpot, Mind the Product, G2, Envato, and Smashing Magazine, among others. I've launched dozens of marketing campaigns in the direction of content marketing, SEO, CRO, and customer development (you can actually check my Linkedin for more info). 

With gained experience, recently, I’ve started GrowthMate, where we help our clients outrank competitors in SERP & generate more revenue.

In this blog, I’m going to share some insider skills that helped me inculcate best practices to overcome ridicule, embarrassment, negative energy, or even failure in marketing. You can also outshine your fears and climb to the top of the pyramid.

So, keep reading to stay informed!

  1. Develop Your Communication Skills

Building an open communication line with the C-level executives of your product company is critical. Just like you talk to your immediate marketing teammates often, make it a habit to communicate with the executive team and build a rapport with superiors.

Try to break the ice with some good ol’ get-to-know-you questions and spark more interesting conversations.

For instance, regular one-on-ones are a must—start with your accomplishments, concerns, and priorities—if you're going to get constructive feedback from your superiors. Make every interaction valuable with statistics or graphical presentations to drive points home.

Also, don't be afraid to ask pertinent questions whenever you need clarity.

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to present your results, whether favorable or bad—the C-level team wants accurate information that can drive sound business decisions.

Share the outcomes of your work with your team during the weekly meetings or even post a message to the appropriate Slack channel. Maintain transparency, overcommunicate, and don’t be afraid to share “bad” results.

By doing so, you’ll always be connected with your team and they will not wonder, like “oh, what is this person doing in our company”.

This is me at my RetargetApp experience presenting marketing plans & outcomes to a team during a strategic session

Book a mentor session with Andriy Zapisotskyi at MentorCruise!

  1. Project Management Experience is Key

Project management experience will help you perform better in your current job and treat your overall marketing career that requires small milestone achievements.

This professional background has helped me look at everything as a project with small subtasks, deadlines, and outcomes—a skill set that prepares you for senior marketing roles. This is a type of skill that continues to evolve within years of experience.

Top project management skills you should acquire on your journey to becoming a senior marketing manager include:

  • team members recruitment

  • task delineation

  • risk assessment

  1. Learn How to Analyze Costs and Optimize Budget

Deloitte’s Annual CMO survey notes that marketing will consume up to 13.6% of an organization’s budget in 2023. For this reason, most employers are looking for marketers with in-depth experience in cost analysis, expense tracking, and budget optimization.

But how do you do this?

First, think of how you can control money when your product company wants to spend a bigger chunk of it. While you enjoy the flexibility of taking risks to drive sales, remember to ensure that the campaigns are structured to control the budget.

In my experience, processes, and methodologies are the ingredients for analyzing marketing costs and optimizing budgets. Over the years, this approach has helped me deploy auditable strategies with meticulous paperwork documentation to help various organizations account for every coin in their budget.

If you can optimize your organization’s marketing budget and still deliver plausible results, your company will surely recognize the effort and give you an incentive or a promotion.

And last but not least, be sure to track the performance of each campaign, calculate the ROI, and make comparison tables with previous years or competitors so your hard work and results can be clearly seen and appreciated.

Back at my experience with Mailtrap, I’ve built an internal experiments prioritization framework that helped the company choose the most valuable hypothesis in terms of revenue focus. Thanks to this I successfully launched the experiment that got an additional $140K in sales

  1. Creative and Strategic Thinking

Creative and strategic thinking in marketing is the prerequisite for focused opportunities that drive greater market impact and performance results. It is a rare skill that can be innate or acquired to foster intentional and rational thought processes that focus on analyzing critical factors or variables that might influence the long-term success of a strategy.

For instance, tune your mind to paint a bigger picture with a clearer direction that you want to steer the marketing strategies into. After that, build a system that compliments the vision and split the goal into sprints. Achieving various tasks in each sprint will eventually get you there.

But how exactly do you improve your creative and strategic thinking skills? You can:

  • Bounce ideas off others to see to get insights into divergent opinions

  • Allocate at least 20% of your productive time to new projects or cohesive critical thinking

  • Practice dreaming to harness the power of imagination and keen observation

  • Create "what if" scenarios around existing projects to drive an innovative mindset—that way, you can propose future-proof solutions that prove your worth in the product's sales cycle

  • Try to work from unusual locations. It always refreshes your mindset and you come up easily with new ideas (at least for me)  

My grandma's village is one of the places that boost my creativity!

  1. Use the Power of Mentors

My breakthrough to becoming a senior marketing expert and creator came when I joined Brainify as a marketing intern back in 2016. As a primary assistant to the organization's head of marketing, I learned how leaders execute their strategy, PR, and social media marketing activities. I also learned the technical know-how of gathering and presenting marketing insights, tracking and research information.

The point is every ambitious marketer there needs someone who passes the ball to them to score. By trusting me with key roles and responsibilities, my then mentor prepared me for future marketing challenges that I’ve encountered while serving clients.

Just when I was starting my path in product marketing, I focused a lot on stories from other people who "made it", I networked, spent time, and learned from top marketers in my city.

I've met a great guy (hello, Bogdan Ianatiev 😉) and he became my mentor – he helped me with the focus on work, CV creation, various advices on best tactics in marketing, suggestions on how to present myself during interviews, etc.

Thanks to this experience I had a great chance to grow as a professional and achieve results much faster. I promised myself that one day I'll be such an example for others. And now, I feel that I'm ready to share gathered knowledge and personal craft in marketing.

Leverage platforms like MentorCruise or GrowthMentor to connect with self-made, high-level professionals who will help you grow your career. With the right mentor by your side, you’ll be able to make sense of the marketing trends, networks, channels, and technologies that matter.

  1. Get Hands-On with Data

If there is one thing that I have come to appreciate in my career is the power of data in making your results, projections, or even recommendations more visible to the rest of the team.

Besides helping you with business presentations/reports, getting hands-on with data visualization can also help you track the progress of a product that you’re working with and measure the efficacy of your marketing efforts.

From experience, you'll be comfortable applying for senior marketing positions if you can back your SEO strategies, as an example, and day-to-day activities with data-centric KPIs.

In other words, other leaders in the organization will want to know what you’re doing and what results you bring.

For starters, you can evaluate your job results or campaign outcomes weekly. This approach will help you improve new campaigns, validate new hypotheses, and better understand the efficiency of your efforts.

  1. Grow Your Network

Getting to the top of the marketing food chain is a collective effort, whether directly or indirectly. For many who have had success in this profession, they credit it to the strong, resourceful relationships they have created with others over time.

I like to network with new people because nearly all conferences and events bring new connections and opportunities.

A tip I have found to work is grooming the new connection after the first interaction. If you met online, make an effort to attend an in-person event that will give you a physical audience with your new connection.

The stronger your networks, the more access you get to powerful information that might improve your career. You also get more noticeable and having a unique skillset might pair you with a new employer ready to assign you more senior marketing roles.

Thanks to my network, I've built a lot of fruitful connections and some of them become even my clients at GrowthMate, including Cloudtalk, Belkins, Alex Birkett, and Community Phone, just to name a few.

I met Des Traynor, a co-founder of my beloved Intercom, at one of the WebSummit night events and returned back home with a signed book.

Book a mentor session with Andriy Zapisotskyi at MentorCruise!

  1. Develop Leadership Traits

Marketers may not be the first to cross the mind when you contemplate leadership skills and who gains by acquiring them, even though having these skills as part of your arsenal can help skyrocket your career into a success.

In fact, leadership skills in marketing will help you play the perfect middle position between businesses and consumers as they inculcate self-awareness.

For instance, you need to be resourceful and empathetic to get along with consumers who will often be looking up to your social media handles for advice or instructions on emerging tech or nuances like spam calls.

Similarly, your boss expects you to take the initiative and exercise decisiveness, especially when a limited opportunity window is in play.

When growing career-wise, leadership traits will help you compel desired actions to deliver tangible results and get noticeable by the top decision-makers.

  1. Ongoing Personal Development and Upskilling

Borrowing from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book “Flow”, I have one last piece of advice for those seeking to expand their horizons in this field.

As a marketer, you need a certain level of challenge to stay focused and engaged.

For instance, having a personal development or upskilling plan as a content marketing manager helps you stay focused and motivated to achieve your goals, a habit that will eventually propel you to a lead role.

If you have a mentor under your belt, leave redundant or routine marketing tasks to them and get hands-on with something new. This approach even gets easier if you have an existing client.

Determine which marketing gaps the business wants to fill, and you’ll find an exact upskilling marketing course that prepares you for that role.

As an example, you might want to expand your skill set to include user experience (UX) design, Figma app proficient usage, or even learn to work with SEO APIs to create automated reports of your campaigns.

In other words, don’t hesitate and overthink, set a plan – go and do it :)

Get Out of Your Inner Comfort Zone and Flourish in Marketing

One thing I've learned in my decades of marketing is that failure is part of the process.

Challenges are bound to occur, especially when pressure keeps on mounting on you to deliver tangible results.

But, even if you're doing better, there is that one task or accomplishment that you still want to achieve. I hope my story sheds light on what you need to focus on in marketing and write your success story.

Have any questions? Need a career consultation? Book a mentor session with me at MentorCruise!

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