October 21, 2021
Case Study

Marketing Careers: 6 reasons to embrace a career in marketing


MarketingSherpa relentlessly fills your inbox with case studies about your peers’ marketing success. Our goal is to inspire your next great marketing idea by giving you a behind-the-scenes look at what really worked.

But a thought struck me while reading The Wall Street Journal one morning. You don’t only need ideas and inspiration. Sometimes you just need some help. And the tight labor market makes it even more difficult to hire and build your team.

So, to help you poach talent form other industries or encourage students to enter the marketing industry, we bring you examples from painting, home service, jewelry, ticket sales, and software marketers.

Read on…and then forward this article to anyone you’re trying to recruit from outside the industry, adding in your own thoughts about why a marketing job is a good career.

by Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute

Marketing Careers: 6 reasons to embrace a career in marketing

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

I’ve worked on a lot of marketing case studies in my time at MarketingSherpa. One of the most memorable is the story of Marketing VP Dan Briscoe.

He worked for a construction software company called HCSS. And he realized, the best thing he could do with his marketing is not just sell his company’s software but help his potential customers overcome their biggest pain point – getting people to choose a career in the construction industry.

So, his marketing team created a community called I Build America that laid out the value proposition for a career in construction. Not only did his team help build its industry – the construction software company increased revenue by 53%.

As a marketer, you are working every day to promote your brand or your client’s. But what are you doing to grow your industry? Part of your success ultimately lies in having a deep talent pool to hire from.

And yet, that is a serious challenge for many marketing leaders today.

“This was the time when a lot of people were expecting labor shortages to be getting better, but in fact they’re getting worse. It’s a pretty worrying situation,” said Michael Pearce, Senior U.S. Economist, Capital Economics, in The Wall Street Journal (Job Gains Hit Slowest Pace of Year by Josh Mitchell).

But in every crisis, there is also opportunity. “In surveys, many workers say they are reconsidering their priorities and do not want to return to their old way of working,” reported Ben Casselman in The New York Times (Jobs Report Offers Little Reassurance on U.S. Economy).

So, while the need is high, the time is also ripe for every marketer to make the case for our industry – to ensure a rich pool of talent for many years to come. Here is my attempt, and feel free to share this article on social media, through email, or however you like and add in your own thoughts about the value proposition of a career in marketing.

Reason #1: Nothing is more powerful than the elegant force of marketing

We live in a world powered by human choice. So, the ability to communicate and help people make choices is almost a super power.

Flint McGlaughlin explains it much more elegantly than me.  I will quote him directly.

“Nothing is more powerful than the elegant force of marketing. Marketer, the world is distorting what it means for you to be a marketer. They are distorting what the work is of the marketer,” said McGlaughlin, CEO, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute.

“Clearly, there are people who use this force just like fire is powerful and can be used for good or for evil. They use this force to fool people, to confuse people, and to hurt people. But when you treat this like a martial art, and you cultivate your skillset, and you develop your technique, you can go into situations like the one we’ve just described and see a dramatic difference. This is a power that’s worth investing your life in.”

McGlaughlin’s quote is from a recent podcast excerpt, and you can hear the situation he is referring too – in which marketing skills helped a nonprofit find more missing children – in the two-minute excerpt below:

Reason #2: Everyone else who works in the organization owes their job to the marketer

Since we live in a world powered by human choice, businesses and every other organization do not thrive and survive because they have good products or provide helpful services. They only succeed because other people (usually customers, but also donors, voters, etc.) perceive that value.

Therefore, everybody else has a job because of the marketer.

Here’s a great example from Nick Stallard, Content Specialist, Pomelo Pay. He told me about a previous experience that drove him to choose a career in marketing.

Stallard created a business selling shoes.

Finding a factory to work with was difficult because there was no shoe manufacturing industry in his country (the UK). He managed to find overseas factories, but they weren’t particularly interested in working with some random guy who had a relatively small order.

It took years, but eventually, he was able to order some shoes. “However, once I got the shoes, I realized the hardest part wasn’t making the shoes, but selling them. I’d expended so much energy on creating them, I didn’t put much focus into marketing them,” he said.

The business failed because he couldn’t find enough customers. “No business can survive without customers, and so I packed it in very soon,” Stallard said.

This spurred a passion for marketing in Stallard and he began to learn the trade himself. He had no interest in starting another business but was looking for a way to apply the skills he learned and offered to help his brother-in-law start a side gig.

“I purchased a domain, interviewed Brad and created all the copy for Hynon Painters & Decorators – a local company specializing in painting and decorating in London and Surrey,” Stallard said.

He tried many different marketing tactics he had learned online – guest blogging, speeding up site load time, building backlinks, getting reviews. “I made sure Brad took pictures of every job he finished. I posted updates on Google My Business,” Stallard said.

“HARO [Help A Reporter Out] was great, because it enabled a very small, local company like Hynon Painters to get backlinks in high-domain websites, for example Family Handyman and Owlguru,” he said. There was a noticeable jump in site rankings after these articles were published.

Keeping on top of Google My Business (GMB) was also critical. Stollard didn’t think posting on GMB would be worthwhile, but customers did interact with new posts. Many new inquiries and customers also mentioned the importance of the reviews that Hynon had built up.

Creating informational blog posts didn’t seem to have much effect, however. “The internet is a big place and posting articles without any real purpose or complimentary marketing, means that they just get lost in the ether,” he said.

Stallard was able to grow traffic from nothing and the website started getting its first leads.

Creative Sample #1: Traffic growth for painting website

Creative Sample #1: Traffic growth for painting website

Brad got so many inquiries that he was able to leave his full-time job and become self-employed. Now, he gets all his business from the website, and so much demand that he currently has a waiting list of three months. The company has increased in size, and he now has a painter and a plasterer working for him.

“He wouldn’t have been able to achieve what he has if he wasn’t a great painter, but he also wouldn’t have been able to succeed if it wasn’t for marketing,” Stallard said.

Brad Hynon, Owner, Hynon Painter & Decorators, agreed. “Without marketing, our business would never have succeeded. It’s important to build customer relationships, and further work opportunities can arise from great reviews and recommendations but it’s important to never forget the foundation of this is through consistent, relevant and creative marketing”

Reason #3: Help people made the best decisions for themselves

There’s a misperception that marketing is about fooling people into buying whatever you’re selling. That strategy will not build a sustainable business.

Amazing inventors, creators, tradespeople, and others need your help finding people they can profitably serve and avoiding those they can’t.

Marketing – when put to its highest and best use – helps people make the right decisions for themselves. If you’re new to marketing, you may find this hard to believe. Helping customers make the best decisions? Not just getting everyone possible to buy, buy, buy?

You can read three specific examples in Sales Funnel: 3 case studies with tips on how to say “no” to customers and improve marketing results. And here’s one more...

“Our marketing challenge is to find customers who value a high level of service and are not price sensitive,” said Cherelle Payne, Media Specialist, The Gentlemen Pros.

The home service company simply isn’t the best option for customers looking for the lowest price. One of the ways the team avoids these customers is by charging a fee to send a technician to the customer’s home.

“This may sound counterintuitive, but we want to match our offering with clients who want the best service, not just the cheapest price. After implementing this tactic, we increased our revenue and also limited the number of negative reviews we received,” Payne said.

The team also segments its customer list and places a special focus on customers who hold a membership to its loyalty program. They provide more value and deliver added services to this group.

Through these efforts, the team has increased HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) sales by 1.5x in one year. The plumbing, heating and electrical company now brings in seven to eight million dollars annually and is growing.

Reason #4: Marketing is the great equalizer

While marketing has existed for millennia, this next reason applies specifically to the internet age.

It used to be that small businesses had a low ceiling that was very difficult to break through. Even a successful small business could only hope to deliver products and services in its area or through the personal network it had built over many years.

Now, almost any business has the potential to serve people it has never met all around the world. Yes, this is because of technology. But what is technology really? Bits and bytes? Fiber? A motherboard soldered to a microchip?

Ascribing the opening up of the global marketplace to technology alone is like saying paint and pigmentation created Mona Lisa or The Starry Night.

Technology is just the canvas. The marketer is the true artisan that uses their talents and skills to connect a value producer to a value receiver halfway across a continent using words and images on a flickering screen.

“When I was in college about 20 years ago, I decided to build a website in FrontPage for my family's business – Moriarty's Gem Art,” said Jeff Moriarty, Digital Marketing Ninja, JMoriarty Marketing.

It took him a couple of months. He added products and then submitted it to search engines. Within a few weeks he received an email from a person who wanted to purchase one of the items he had listed (at the time, he didn't know how set up the capability for online purchases).

He emailed them back, they called to order and his family ended up selling a $1,000 piece of jewelry to someone in California.

“Twenty years ago, I would have never thought that we would sell items in the thousands of dollars online. Even when Jeff made that first sale through the new website, I thought it was a fluke. Two decades later, almost 50% of our business is online and we are doing live jewelry shows each month. Would never have thought! My goal now is to go 100% online and not have to worry about a retail store,” said Steve Moriarty, Owner, Moriarty’s Gem Art.

Reason #5: We’re a pretty fun bunch

Look, you always have to be careful when you make broad generalizations about any group of people.

Are there @$$holes in marketing? I have personally met my fair share.

Are some people in this industry just out for personal enrichment and could care less about anyone else but themselves? Absolutely.

So yes, of course, there are unpleasant people you may be stuck working with in many marketing departments and advertising agencies.


People working in the marketing industry who have chosen to invest their life’s energy in the act of creation. Before “content creator” was a job title anyone with an Instagram account and a well-lit plate of food could claim, we were the industry of creators.

Remember that famous Apple ad – “here’s to the crazy ones?” It was written at a time when the vast majority of Apple users were in marketing.

So yes, we can be misfits and rebels and troublemakers.

But mixed in with that is genius. And people and ideas that change the world (see Reason #6).

And really, creators are some pretty fun people. I have never worked as an actuary or an anesthesiologist or a compliance officer. So, I don’t know, they may be a hoot.

But I do know this for a fact – it is a lot of fun to spend your life around creatives.

We can poke fun at ourselves. “Wanna hear a funny joke about a marketer?” asked Julie Preiss, Chief Marketing Officer, Appgate. “Fill out these five forms to download my free e-book and find out!”

And we get to apply our creativity in a productive way.

“As a communications major in college, I gravitated toward the art of storytelling. In practice, that's the essence of marketing. It’s about telling authentic stories that connect with potential buyers. These stories should be more about the ‘why’ and less about the ‘what,’ and doing that effectively takes creativity and credibility,” Preiss said.

She continued, “there’s nothing that gets my work endorphins flowing more than the opportunity to be creative and tell compelling stories. Figuring out the message, picking the right communications vehicles, understanding the persona of the buyer, and measuring the impact of your work is exciting and gratifying.”

Reason #6: Positively impact society by influencing behavior

I’m going to warn you beforehand, this may sound hokey – marketers can change the world.

Because ideas come before actions. And marketers traffic in ideas (see Reason #1).

Of course, I am not saying that by choosing a career in marketing you will be able to solve global climate change or put the brakes on nuclear proliferation.

But I do know this – you can use your marketing skills to bend the great human experience ever so slightly towards the good.

For me, I try to help people become better marketers – better able to get results while better serving the people they call customers. So its very motivating to me while writing this article to get an email that says “After listening to the short YouTube clip of the podcast, I can't wait to read the final article” from Jake Hughes, Head of Content Marketing, Ticket-Compare.

But Hughes reminded me that no marketer is an island. Which gets me back to the whole point of this article. The people we need to influence right now are those not working in the marketing industry, but would benefit from being here with us, shoulder to shoulder, helping connect value creators with the people that can benefit from that value. Helping to use their communication skills to make the world a better place.

“Before I started working in marketing … I thought using the power of language and an understanding of the human mind to get people to act differently would be fascinating and fulfilling – and it can be,” Hughes said.

He continued, “However, since working in marketing I've realized I can’t do any of that stuff alone. The real beauty of marketing, and why I still work in it today, is the necessary collaboration with other people to pull off a successful campaign that’s going to change the customer’s life in some way. It’s rarely easy, often frustrating, and never the same. However, working through the struggle with others and recording the impact of your work (a more inspiring way to say KPIs [key performance indicators]) is where I find fulfillment in marketing.”

Related resources

Conversion Rate Optimization Live Stream: Live optimization with Flint McGlaughlin, Founder, MECLABS – Join the CEO of MarketingSherpa and MECLABS on Thursday, October 21st at 1 p.m. EDT (replay is available immediately after the live session at the same link)

Become a Master at Creating and Optimizing High-Converting Webpages – This conversion rate optimization course is fully underwritten by MECLABS, with no monetary cost to participants

How to be a good marketer

7 Examples of Using Marketing to Become a Force for the Good

The Behind-the-scenes Story of How We Optimized Outdoor Advertising That Was Featured in a USA Today Article

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