5 career questions marketers should ask themselves once a year

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

brand management

Right after your year-end performance review is a great time to reflect on where you are in your career, where to go next and what is your longer-term plan? Here are five career questions to ask, at least once a year:

  1. Within your current company, how high up do you think you can realistically go?
  2. Should you stay in the same industry or look at new verticals?
  3. Should you stay in pure brand management or venture into a subject-matter expert type roles?
  4. How long do you want to keep working?
  5. Do you stay an employee or do you take this moment to leap out on your own?

Answer honestly before going out into the job market. Use these answers to frame your career strategy. Think of these questions as a starting point to your personal branding or how you might position yourself on your LinkedIn profile.

Within your current organization, how high up do you think you can realistically go?

Be very honest. I’ve always believed that by your 40th birthday, you might have peaked within a large organization, or at best have one more level left to climb. Yes, there are exceptions, but you can’t plan to be one of the exceptions. Once you have peaked, how long do you think you can remain successful within your current company before you get squeezed out? Moreover, you might want to proactively take action at 45, rather than reactively be forced to take effect at 52.

Should you stay in the same industry or look at new verticals?

If you’re in consumer packaged goods, those in brand management still have the power to drive the brands. However, once you leave CPG, marketing’s role can get diminished to more of a supporting role. It can become a marketing communications function–either communicating the product or service, which the marketer has little control over. With less control over the pure direction of the business or brand, marketing becomes a bit more of a do-er support function rather than a strategic role which leads the business.

Should you stay in pure brand management or venture into a subject-matter expert type roles?

This quest sets up one of the harder decisions you will make because once you make it, you might not be able to turn back. It is human nature to want to label people–and this is one of the struggles you will face in managing your career, especially if you become a subject matter expert instead of the general manager role. If you move out of brand management, and it doesn’t work out, it might be harder to convince future employers that you are still a generalist who can drive brands.

How long do you want to keep working?

You will eventually have to start asking this question. Part of this decision will depend on your finances and your family situation. When I was 25, I would have hoped I’d retire at 55 on an island. However, at 45, I found myself asking “so what do I want to do for the next 15 years?” I had no clue about the answer. It was scary. Now that I’ve found my second career as a consultant, I want to work till I’m 70!

Do you stay an employee or do you take this moment to leap out on your own?

Many marketing careers peak in your 40s. Staying an employee at 50 puts you at risk of eventually being laid off by a 38-year-old one day. As I hit my 40s, it became harder for me to sit through a performance review with a straight face.
Being on your own gives you an absolute power to be your own boss. I love it.  However, when anyone asks me if they should, my immediate reaction is to say “it’s not for everyone.” I want to make sure you are serious about it, and not getting me to try to talk you into it. It will be you who has to jump off the cliff.  I still remember the phone call with my wife, when I told her about ten times “I’m going to do it.” I was more preparing myself for it, than telling her. It can feel very risky, but once you realize that you are betting on yourself, you will know you can do it.

The lifestyle is great, but you’re on the clock 24/7. Also, it can be a very lonely experience–which surprised an introvert like me.  It took me 18 months to get used to the working alone feeling — no one to talk about the latest celebrity scandals or football game.

Before you ever go on your own, here are two new questions for you:

  1. How do you like looking for a job? As a consultant, we are always looking for our next assignment.
  2. How do you like sales? I remember a wise sales leader once told me, “If you hate sales, start in sales and move up to management. Every other profession will end up in sales.” As a consultant, we are always selling. Consulting is my first real sales job and my first service role. Both took time for me to adjust.



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If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

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