What I wish I had known before building my career in marketing: Advice from the experts.

More than 30 years ago, Robert Fulghum wrote a book called “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”. While a beautiful sentiment (and offering insightful words of wisdom), we know that our growth and learning extend well beyond our crayon-loving, snack-fueled 5-year-old selves.

Yet somehow when we finish college and step into the real world—with fresh knowledge, shiny enthusiasm and a desire to conquer mountains—we somehow think, “This. THIS is the point when I know it all and can apply this hard-earned education to take the marketing world by storm.”

Now that we’re a little more seasoned and have greater perspective on what it takes to build a successful marketing career, we thought it would be interesting to poll our leaders on advice they would give to their younger selves. Here’s what they had to say:

“Your Marketing Career Doesn’t Have to Be Linear”

“There are many more avenues available than what you’re exposed to in school. Client side, in-house agency, external agency. Full service, brand, digital, media, influencer, etc. Each of those experiences bring unique perspective to your overall career path. And don’t forget about B2B—B2C may get the spotlight, but there are some really fascinating things happening in B2B that can be just as exciting to sink your teeth into.”

  • — Nicole Wedekind, Group Account Director

“Test and Learn, Always”

“Marketing is constantly changing—and it’s based on the needs, wants and behaviors of human beings, which means it’s inherently messy and complex. Learning never ends, and there’s rarely one right answer to a challenge. Finding the sweet spot requires a mix of hard data and gut instinct. It’s critical to consistently test, learn and iterate. It’s also important to use your experience to build confidence and learn to trust your gut.”

  • — Amanda Creger, Director of Strategy

 

“Keep the Big Picture in Mind”

“There are so many ideas and channels for us to explore as marketers. It’s critical to stay anchored in the big picture and the goal you are trying to achieve to avoid ‘shiny object syndrome’.”

  • — Allen Hsu, UX Design Lead

 

“Creativity is Important…But It Will Only Take You So Far”

“Getting to the right answer is a process. Creativity is only part of it. Patience and an open mind will serve you well.”

  • — Stephanie Weaver, Associate Creative Director, Copy

 

“Value Comes in All Shapes and Sizes (and Programs)”

“Being an Excel data analysis ninja will make you a very valuable resource to your team. Having data—and being able to pivot it—is one thing, but identifying and activating insights is where your value as a professional grows.”

  • — Laura Lee, Director of Media

 

“Even Michelangelo Needed Time to Hone His Craft”

“Don’t worry if you think you’re a terrible designer. In all likelihood you’re not that bad. Odds are your design tastes are more advanced than your knowledge base, just as it should be. Keep sharpening your skills and challenging yourself to reach a little further than you think you can.”

  • — Kirk Wells, Associate Creative Director, Design

 

“Stepping Away Can Get You Closer to the Goal”

“I wish I would have known the importance of stepping away. Step away for vacation. Step away for a new perspective. Or step away for a fresh set of eyes. When you’re “in it” all the time, you can’t see what those on the outside do.”

  • — Khoi Ta, Studio Manager

 

“Marketing Isn’t a Solo Sport”

“We spend a lot of time as marketers talking about and practicing marketing. But marketing and brand are a part of a much large ecosystem. Sales training is critical to understanding how marketing pulls customers through the funnel. Understanding the dynamics in the C-suite and Wall Street help you think of your brand and marketing efforts on a broader scale. Executive vision, sales, product, engineering, customer service, operations, and HR all must work in alignment for brands to be world class.”

  • — Moira Vetter, CEO