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Career Insights from a Senior Marketing Manager: Q&A with Ryan W. McClellan

Ryan McClellan

Ryan McClellan

senior marketing manager

  • In marketing, formal education is important but not imperative. The essence of marketing is all about trial and error.
  • The fact is Google’s algorithm changes 2.5 times a day; Facebook’s algorithm changes once a week. The biggest mistake is not keeping up with the latest trends.
  • Over-preparing is just as bad as under-preparing, and with that said, the best way to gain experience and improve skill sets is to begin marketing in and of itself.
  • Marketing management is all about coordinating a team to success. The most challenging part is having to mitigate so many departments and individuals.
  • Continuous learning through attending conferences, participating in webinars, and staying active in marketing communities is essential.
  • Lastly, do it! Start a podcast, start a blog, build your website! Learn. Dig in. This is marketing. You have to get in the game to truly learn.

How did you start your marketing career? What was your first job in marketing, and how did it prepare you for your role as a Marketing Manager?

“I began my career when I was eighteen years old. I learned HTML coding right after high school, and at the age of 18, I founded my first (but not last) company that focused on web and graphic design. This was the beginning, but not the end. My first job in marketing was this. It was a self-made venture where I found solace in self-learning. After that, as they say, the rest is history. I’ve been on film sets and video game design studios, worked with Fortune 1000s, and am notably proud of my work over the past seventeen years. This prepared me for my role as a Marketing Manager because in my time, I had to learn how to not only manage a company but also, to manage people. Marketing management is all about coordinating a team to success, and it was officiated in 2017 when I joined Eminence Massage, where I became a full-time Marketing Manager.”


How important is formal education in marketing?

“This question is a double-edged sword. When I returned to get my Master’s in Marketing, I learned a lot.

However, formal education, though important, does not teach you how to find a job or how to find an agency. In this light, I urge students to pursue at least a Bachelor’s level degree in Marketing, but because the industry changes so quickly, it is more than accomplishable to land a great job in a given skill set (copywriting, PPC, SEO, etc.) without any educational background. I still say education is important but not imperative.”


What are the best ways to gain experience and improve skills in the early stages of a marketing career?

“Network, and go for it! A lot of people – especially students – feel intimidated diving right on in. This is the wrong attitude. I believe the essence of marketing is all about trial and error. Fact: under-preparing is just as bad as over-preparing, and with that said, the best way to gain experience and improve skill sets is to begin marketing in and of itself. Even if you do not charge the client, a student should get used to real-life experience. Mentioning you are a student overcomes this obstacle; the other side will say “yes” more often than “no”.”


What were some early challenges you faced in your career and how did you overcome them?

“Lack of courage, I would say. I felt I needed to understand marketing inside and out when I began. Long story short, it became much easier when I began looking for opportunities. The biggest challenge I faced when starting out was fear, whether paid or free. I was afraid I’d mess up a project, but that is what marketing is about. Trial and error is essential, and without it, and without being able to dive right into the nit-and-grit of things, it holds us back from the bigger picture.”


What’s Life as a Marketing Manager?


Can you walk us through a typical day of a Marketing Manager?

“At present, I work with a mobile massage conglomerate. Because it is remote, my time is spent at home except when traveling. There is no set routine; it is pretty much a mitigation of any and all issues at hand that day. For example, yesterday, my job was to work on a new Meta Ads campaign, then I moved on sales calls and then progressed to talent acquisition. Marketing Management never has a routine. It is a matter of blocking out time for the issues that arise during a given day.”


What are the most rewarding aspects of being a Marketing Manager, and what are the most challenging?

“It is rewarding to see a company thrive. At my current company, we went from a 10-man team to 1000+ members, and this was because I took charge and led the action. The most challenging part, however, is not so subtle. It is having to mitigate so many departments and individuals alike that you find yourself overwhelmed. The best thing you can do in this situation is adapt. I hired a second Virtual Assistant to get through this obstacle. In other words, the most challenging part of all of this is being prepared for anything.”


What are the top skills needed to succeed in a marketing career today?

“Teamwork, leadership, communication, creativity, innovation, self-awareness, emotional quota, intellect, and patience.”


How important is it to build a personal brand or online presence in today’s digital marketing environment?

“ESSENTIAL! I urge my younger clients to begin with a website, even a WordPress template. Social media also needs to be obtained. This is crucial for success, as it allows the individual to develop a portfolio of work, assemble social proof with blogs and videos, and maintain an online presence that resonates with your target audience. If a newbie marketer does not have a website yet, jump on Wordpress.org, buy a theme, and set up your domain address and business email address.”


Tips and Advice for Aspiring Marketing Professionals


What common mistakes do you see new marketers make, and how can they avoid them?

“Many tend to think they know it all. The fact is Google’s algorithm changes 2.5 times a day; Facebook’s algorithm changes once a week.

The biggest mistake is not keeping up with the latest trends. Take Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, AKA “X.” This surprised us all, and without that knowledge, we would be unable to see that perhaps Twitter is no longer the same service it once was. Plus, in digital marketing, there is a change of some sort that changes daily. To overcome this, get up a “Google Alert” for keywords like “digital marketing news,” “digital marketing,” or “marketing news.” Also, attend expos, conferences, and conventions, and be active on social media.”


Could you recommend any resources, such as books, podcasts, or websites, that have been invaluable to your professional growth?

“Books would be “Influence: The Psychology” by Robert Cialdini, “Contagious: How To Build Word Of Mouth” by Jona Berger, and podcasts such as “Marketing Over Coffee” and “The Digital Marketing Podcast.” These are some starter resources.”


How important are certifications in digital marketing, and how can they impact career progression?

“I get this question a lot. The truth is, yes, they are important, but only on a select few occasions have I seen job hunters indicate a need for them. Maybe 1 out of 10 job posts ask if you are Facebook Certified or Google Ads Certified, and not to sound ostentatious, but you can check the box: “Yes,” and no one will know a thing. The certifications do not teach you anything, and they expire every year because an algorithm changes or an interface adjusts. In other words, do not lie to your employer, but note that no one is going to ask for proof.”


What advice would you give to someone who is just starting a career in marketing and aspires to become a Marketing Manager?

“Learn. Dig in. Go at it, scratching and clawing all the way. A career in marketing is tough, especially right now.

The industry is saturated, so definitely do 1 of the 2 things:

  1. Establish a niche that allows you to stand out above competitors, or
  1. Go your own route. I honestly think someone in college would benefit from bringing on board 3 to 5 other members of their class together and starting a marketing agency.

It is almost impossible to find a job right now due to the fact that 80% of startups are about to run out of cash, so consider trying a year of your own career by being a marketing consultant, or focusing on your key strengths, i.e. if you are a great writer, narrow down from “marketing manager” to “copywriter.” From there, you can climb the ranks.”


Reader Q & A with Ryan W. McClellan


“Industries like tech, e-commerce, and digital marketing offer dynamic environments that are constantly changing and innovating and provide valuable learning opportunities for aspiring Marketing Managers. These sectors typically have a fast-paced, data-driven culture that is ideal for developing diverse marketing skills.”


“I stay motivated by setting personal and professional goals and regularly track my progress. Continuous learning through attending conferences, participating in webinars, and staying active in marketing communities is essential. Also, make sure to follow the trends. Set a Google Alert for “Marketing” and read the latest trends daily. Lastly, do it! Just in: start a podcast, start a blog, build your website! This is marketing. You have to get in the game to truly learn.”


“Attend industry events and conferences to meet pros face-to-face. Join online forums and social media groups related to marketing. Do not hesitate to reach out to people on LinkedIn with personalized messages. Lastly, offer value in your interactions, i.e., sharing useful content, providing insight, and so on. This builds social proof and credibility for your brand.”



Ryan McClellan

About the Author

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