Marketing Career Advice: Women Tell You How To Triumph

Let What You Love Be What You DoWelcome to your amazing marketing career. 

Today we face the most exciting challenges in the history of the marketing profession.

Despite eroding customer trust and privacy concerns:

We can connect with our hyper-niche audiences across platforms, channels and devices.

We can inform and engage with them in an ever-changing  environment to meet their specific needs and wants.

In the process, our audience and, most importantly, our customers have taken control of the conversation.

As a result: 
We need to gain their permission to communicate with them and to market to them.

To succeed, we must treat them as people and develop relationships and communities with them or risk becoming irrelevant.

While marketing stands at the intersection of many key questions that we face today, it’s our responsibility to step up and respond not only to increase our firm’s profits but more importantly to improve the greater social good.

Despite laws requiring equal pay for equal work, women still lag their male counterparts in marketing as well as other professions.

So we asked successful female marketers for their best career advice for women.

Examine this “road tested” advice to help you as you progress along your career.


Marketing Career Advice For Women: Understand The Playing Field [Research]

Before we dive into how to succeed in your marketing career if you’re a woman, let’s understand the playing field.

There’s no way to sugar the truth.

Despite women’s lib and legislation:
A gender gap in marketing salaries between men and women persists. Further, this pay gap increases as women gain experience and seniority according to the 2019 Marketing Week Career and Salary Survey.

Gender gap in marketing salaries increases as women gain experience and seniority

The gender gap for marketing salaries exists across a wide range of categories.

Marketing Salaries show a gender gap across categories.

And it’s not just marketing!
US Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that education doesn’t help your bank account if you’re a woman.  (Note: This data isn’t limited to marketing.)

Education doesn’t improve women’s salaries.

Even worse, this gender gap in salaries has existed for 20+ years!

Marketing salary has had a gender gap for 20+ years.

Let What You Love Be What You Do

So what can you do as a woman in marketing to get ahead and ensure that you get paid what you’re worth? 

Listen to what these 20+ women suggest and try to learn from their experience. 

Marketing Career Advice: 20+ Women Tell You How To Triumph


Olga Bedrina – (@olga_bedrina)

Never doubt yourself!

It’s self-destructive, and it definitely won’t help you pursue your dreams.

As a woman in marketing, you are capable of coming up with brilliant creative ideas, leading a team forward, and doing a great job, no matter the industry.

Jenny BrennenJenny Brennan – AgoraPulse (@jennybrennanme)

I would have to say that when you come from a place of really wanting to help and serve others, you will do well. It is a great way to show your skills to your employers, peers and the customers that you are serving.

Be sincere and authentic. There really is only one you, it’s not a cliche so embrace who you are and let her into the world.

LISTEN: In all seriousness, when you listen to experts in your field, you’ll learn so much.

I LOVE podcasts and audiobooks as a way to learn. It opens my mind to so many possibilities, and I get some steps in too.

Leslie Carruthers – (@LeslieCarruther)

Start building a support network early.

  • Ask for help,
  • Enroll mentors and
  • Hire coaches.

Ask questions.

Don’t just work harder – check and validate that you’re working smarter. And start a side hustle early – it will inform so much of what you do and you’ll grow faster.

Heidi Cohen – Actionable Marketing Guide (@HeidiCohen)

To succeed in marketing requires a mix of skills including:

  • Ability to deal with people (inside and outside of your company)
  • Strong writing, math and analytical skills. (As I used to tell my Finance For Marketing students, if you didn’t want to deal with a lot of numbers, go into Finance.)
  • Empathy for your direct reports and peers.
  • Willingness to advocate not only for yourself but also for those who report to you.
  • Desire to keep learning and helping others.

Further, build your professional community. It’s never too late to start networking! Don’t underestimate the value that they provide in terms of outside input and shared knowledge. But most importantly, friendship!

Pam Didner – Relentless Pursuit, LLC (@PamDidner)

Be your own advocate.

Let others know what you can do and take credit when you deserve it!

Gini Dietrich – Spin Sucks (@GiniDietrich)


Negotiate for:

  • Pay,
  • Promotion,
  • Time,
  • Workload,
  • Ideas, and
  • The way you should be treated.

As a whole, women don’t negotiate–men always do. That is the most important skill you can learn. Use it at home and at work. Learn it, practice it, conquer it.

Keri EngelKeri Engel – OptinMonster (@keri_engel)

Purposefully work on building your confidence.

Also know the worth of your skills.

Don’t devalue yourself or put yourself down – I see women in marketing doing this way too often.

Michelle Garrett – Garrett Public Relations (@PRisUs)

Marketing is a great field for women to get into because there are so many opportunities.

If you find you don’t like one particular aspect of the job, you can always pivot to another area of marketing.

In my area of expertise which is PR, content and social media, I think there are more opportunities now than ever because brands are embracing the benefits of these initiatives, which can have an impact throughout the organization.

Erika HealdErika Heald – Erika Heald Consulting (@SFerika)

Take time to explore the various types of marketing so you can find your niche.

And both look for and become a mentor for other women.

Kristen HicksKristen Hicks – Austin Copywriter (@atxcopywriter)

Network.If possible, find relevant women’s groups to network with.

Some of the most valuable contacts I’ve made that have made all the difference to my business have been other professional women doing something similar.

They’ll provide great advice, send you valuable referrals, introduce you to new contacts, and commiserate when you’re dealing with something frustrating.

Carmen Hill – Chill Content (@CarmenHill)

Be confident in your knowledge, experience and intuition, but stay curious and always be learning.

If you find yourself in a position where you are not able to do that—get out.

Don’t waste time in a bad situation. [Editor’s Note: We couldn’t agree with Carmen more. BUT take care and make sure that you have a way to keep going financially!)

Have the courage to be a change agent, but choose an environment where you can drive change from good to great, not from miserable to a bit more tolerable.

Sharon Hurley Hall (@shurleyhall)

Don’t allow others to undervalue your services and your contribution because of your gender.

Recognize that what you do has a value!

Be willing to itemize the benefits you bring to show your worth.

Zontee HouZontee Hou – Media Volery (@ZonteeHou)

Build your own network of supporters, fans, and advocates.

Don’t wait for other people to notice the quality of your work:

  • Connect with people in the industry whom you can bounce ideas off of.
  • Seek out peers who will laud your work on your behalf.

I’m lucky to have an extended network of people who refer business to me, who help highlight my work, and to whom I can turn for advice about all areas of my work and career. But that network didn’t just appear; I’ve spent years going to events, connecting with colleagues, and asking friends for introductions. It all adds up.

As a professor and speaker, I sometimes have young women come up and ask me to mentor them. It’s a nice idea, but I always tell them that you can’t ask that of a stranger. It’s like proposing to your crush; they may not even know you, so why would they say yes?

Mentorship is not only about investing in another person, it’s a two way street. I tell them to, instead, build relationships with those whom they have connections to and prove to them why they’re worth being in their circle, so they introduce you to their circle and on and on.

Your network should be made up of real relationships, trust, and connection.

Lisa Marcyes – Oracle (@Lisa_Marcyes)

Embrace change. No campaign will ever be the same.

Test, test, test. What works on one channel, may not work on another. Test messaging, test imagery, test posting times, test web placement, test ads.

Always be learning. Jump in and try new things, even if you’re scared it won’t be perfect. Innovate by embracing new technologies.

Wendy MarxWendy Marx – Marx Communications (@wendymarx)

Marketing has become and will continue to become more data-driven. Don’t shy away the implications of that.

You don’t have to be a brainiac math whiz but you do need to be able to use the tools that will help you ultimately work smarter.

Marketing is evolving every day and you need to stay abreast of trends. Keep educating yourself through reading, videos, podcasts, webinars, classes…so your mind stays fertile.

Remember you’re not in this alone. Find like-minded women to network with and help pave the way. A mentor can also give you a leg up.

Lastly, don’t burn any bridges. The person you shun today may be able to help you tomorrow. Pay it forward and backward.

Julia McCoyJulia McCoy – Express Writers (@JuliaEMcCoy)

Go for it!! Don’t let anything stop you!

And if you seek an executive position, hold people that answer to you accountable without hesitation. Be firm.

Don’t let gender allow to prove an excuse to not have to play on the same level field.

Susan Moeller – BuzzSumo (@SusanCMoeller)

Find a like-minded group of people in your area of expertise. Their advice and input will help you to do your best work, and particularly in content marketing, you can help each other through co-marketing and collaboration.

If you’d like a place to start, check out Facebook groups. There are many relevant ones, including the one I run, womencontentmarketing 😊

Deb Olsen – Atlantic Diagnostic Laboratories LLC (@adllabs)

Anyone seeking a career in marketing should enter with an awareness that:
“All good marketing begins with “how to convey a message so that their target market will listen”. 

Dayna Rothman (@Dayroth)

Always be vocal about your opinions and don’t second guess yourself.

Seek the advice of other women who have moved up in their careers so that they can help guide you through tricky situations.

Having a strong woman mentor as an advocate can be incredibly impactful as you navigate your career.

Ivana Taylor – (@DIYMarketers)

My advice for women seeking a career in marketing: BRAND yourself based on your strength and what you deliver.

For example, if your strength is creating high-converting email campaigns – the focus on that.

Create a process around it, collect data to share your success. I’ve found that companies and clients are purchasing an OUTCOME and not hiring someone. So choose the outcome you deliver and leverage it.

Jess TysonJess Tyson – Don’t Panic Management (@jessostroff)

Listen more than you speak, but share your voice when you have something important to say.

Know your place, but ask for what you deserve.

There’s a way to be strong, confident, and respected without being a bully. At the same time, there’s a way to be respectful and kind without being a pushover.

Women, unfortunately, have to walk this line constantly and it’s an ongoing battle to find the balance between being a great leader and not being a jerk.

Magdalena Urbaniak – Brand24  (@Meg_Urbaniak)

Set your goals clearly.

Make a SWOT analysis of your own business profile.

Hold on tight, especially when you have a bad day (because of business or anything else – life is challenging sometimes).

You need to know what your strengths are – promote them! And what you have to work on more. And really work on it! Regularly and consistently. You are a super woman!

Pamela Wilson – BIG Brand System (@PamelaIWilson)

Think BIG.

There’s nothing standing in your way.

Sandie YoungSandie Young – PR 20/20 (@sandiemyoung)

My best advice is to seek out a like-minded woman that you admire and find a way to foster a mentor to mentee relationship.

Odds are, she has a great story to tell—one that will inspire your own narrative.

From the mentor’s perspective, it’s so rewarding to watch your peers grow and learn in part due to your influence.

Bottom line:
We need to find more ways to lift each other up and support one another. #girlpower

Ashley Zeckman – TopRank Marketing (@AZeckman)

I advise anyone seeking a career in marketing to go-for-it! There’s no shame in trying and failing, the only failure is a missed opportunity to learn and push yourself.

Do the things that scare the $#*! out of you (and those things will change over the years) because ultimately, it will make you a better marketer.

Also, marketing doesn’t have to be cutthroat. The more you can find other people inside and outside of your industry to learn from and connect with, the better you’ll be.


Marketing Career Advice From 20+ Women Conclusion

Accept that the world of marketing and business more broadly isn’t fair.

Don’t let this hold you back.
Women and other minorities will win battles for equal pay and positions,

You’ve got one life to live—Make the most of every opportunity every day.

I’m not here to sell you a disappointing career choice.
I want you to be the best marketer you can be! 

And only you have the power to accomplish this.

In my experience, the biggest force  holding women back from becoming world class marketers is the image they carry in the back of their brain. 

Yes. You. Can.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on FacebookTwitter and Google+.


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Photos of Heidi Cohen – ©2019, Heidi Cohen – Permission to use them is granted on the condition that you link to this article.
Photos of contributors are sourced from Twitter profiles 

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