Be fearless! Top tips to kick-start your career in B2B marketing

Catherine Maskell, head of global marketing at REED, reveals her top three tips for anyone starting out in marketing and why B2B does not have to mean 'boring to boring'

I started my marketing career as a junior secretary for the marketing team at Levi Strauss and I didn’t actually make the jump to B2B until a good few years later. Coming from a B2C background meant that I approached it from a slightly different angle – my experience in the B2C world taught me to treat everyone – business customer or consumer – as a human being and to start by understanding what it is that makes them tick.

I’m still surprised at the austere way some marketers speak to their customers and prospects. I’m a big believer that bringing personality to conversations is what really creates the connection and the cut-through.

It’s all the more important today because we’re bombarded by marketing messages throughout our day, both as consumers and business people. It really comes down to how individuals receive it that makes the difference.

I once read that B2B does not have to be “Boring to Boring”, which is something that has stayed with me throughout my career. So, with this in mind, these are my top three tips for anyone starting out in marketing.

1) Talk to the people at the coalface

I think my absolute top tip would have to be to ‘go to the coalface’ and really understand how your message is going to be delivered.

I have spent a lot of time in various REED offices finding out how our consultants use the materials we create, what they find useful and what isn’t working. At the end of the day, the people delivering the messaging give the toughest and most constructive feedback; they will tell you what isn’t good enough, what they want more of, and you end up learning an awful lot from them.

If you work for a large organisation, make sure you get out there and visit colleagues across the business in order to find commonality that can be fed into your marketing campaigns. Identifying this common ground is one of the biggest challenges we face but you are never going to find it sitting behind a desk.

2) Know your team and don’t be afraid to find your place in it

My second tip is a little clichéd, but you have got to know your team. It’s important to understand people’s motivations and how they think they fit into the business.

When coming into a new job, the chances are you will end up wanting to change certain things as you will have a different perspective from the rest of your team. This can be great, but the key is to be aware of the people around you right from the get go and to bring them along with you.

I have quite a new team at REED and I am constantly encouraging them to share any suggestions for improvement they might have. Even if you are new in the job, if you feel you want to make a change, there’s nothing wrong with backing yourself and following it through.

3) Really know your industry

If you are starting a career in marketing today, there is so much information out there that can tell you what is happening in the industry. There are plenty of free products to use and free blogs you can follow, so ask yourself, who are the marketing leaders and thinkers that you want to live up to and be inspired by? Identify them, follow their Twitter and follow their advice.

Things have never been so good. When I first started none of these resources were available, whereas marketers today have access to such great tools. You can gain so much inspiration from other places and other brands, and inspiration really is the key to being a good marketer in this environment. It’s all about positioning yourself and your place in the marketing industry, so find what works for you as an individual.

Looking back over my career, I have to say that one thing I have learnt is to really back myself. Going into my first job, I really wasn’t that confident at all and I didn’t back myself enough. You have to be fearless to work in marketing these days because there is just so much ‘new’ that you have to be comfortable with. So my parting advice to anyone in their first 90 days of marketing would be: Just be fearless, take risks and give everything a go.

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This blog was written as part of Avention’s “My First 90 Days in Marketing” blog series, which can also be viewed at