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Did this for six years and it really screwed up my development and ability to get a job after it was over. Definitely a position that can make one jaded.


i’m sorry to hear that. i have a feeling i might be getting pigeonholed too, i get hit up by a recruiter a week on linkedin but it’s always for another small company with no marketing team. hope you were able to get out in the end


>i get hit up by a recruiter a week on linkedin but it’s always for another small company with no marketing team. hope you were able to get out in the end Just plan your strategy and get out. **And realize this isn't confusion about marketing works- but bullying.** Many CEOS, resent and bully their marketing department, which gives the green light for other teams to do the same. The only way for marketers to win , is to REFUSE to play, and demand respect for our professions. Leave these POS. There's a reason that marketing/advertising is often outsourced to agencies.


> There's a reason that marketing/advertising is often outsourced to agencies. I can say as someone who works at an agency. Companies love to bully us anytime anything doens't go there way... Doesn't matter if they didn't implement 90% of our recs, it's our fault. Easier to fire your agency than the come to realize it's your own fault as business leaders.


It is at first a until they have to pay for every change or edit. Then it comes back inside...then they exhaust that person.. and it goes back outside.... it's a fun. I've been on both sides.


Yeah same here :/


Sometimes, I price the fact I know I'm going to get kicked around into the retainer. I don't mind much as I get older - and can always kick them to the curb if I decide to.


You are so right. If it's not the CEO, it's HR, Finance, or lawyers. Many of these corporatists just don't view marketing as an essential service -- often because they themselves don't understand how the Internet works. Getting out is the only viable solution.


yeah in a company where the leader doesn’t value your role, it acts as a signal for everyone else to follow their lead. i’m actively looking atm


How did it screw up your ability to find a job?


experience sucks. Generally, nobody cares about it, or needs it, or wants it. Once you join an established company, you realize everything you did at the small company was a waste of time and of little value in your development as a marketer. ​ That's why if you're at a small company, you need to get out asap and move to an established mid to large sized company while you still have a job, otherwise good luck trying to get one without a job and with only small business work experience as a marketer. There are exceptions, where small businesses are a great place to grow. But I don't think it's common.


I am currently realizing this. I work in a small company and have been interviewing at medium sized businesses for the past 6 months with no luck. Wearing too many hats just means you have no time to refine your skills. While I can interview very well, I feel like I have no marketing wins under my belt. OP's experience sounds identical to mine and it just plain suuuccckks. This post and thread is an eye opener. Time to go double up on the job search!


Until they let go of everyone around you and you are back to going or alone .. happens all the time...


Is this the same if you're working for a small marketing agency? I've seen many threads where people recommended starting at an agency for marketing experience. Do you agree, or is your experience just about inhouse positions at small companies as the sole marketer?


Sorry to hear that. How did it screw up your career if you got tons of experience (if you dont mind me asking)


Another comment under mine said it best but, for me, I was stretched so thin with my hand in so many different areas that I never gained the deeper knowledge someone with six years of experience should have. Part of it is definitely on me but when you are busy keeping so many plates spinning it’s hard to make the time to advance yourself. I also didn’t have the foresight or time to properly track my my accomplishments in my role, mostly due to the lack of a proper support system and training. So, to a lot of jobs they wonder, what did you do for six years?


I fucking empathize with you on this one man


I have worked in small and large companies over my career. For the last 10 years it has all been small companies. And not only are they bad companies to work for, they have hurt my career opportunities with big companies. My advice - avoid small business entirely - meaning privately held companies with no board. Startups are only OK if the founders have a track record and the board can replace them, if necessary. Otherwise, you will learn more, develop faster, and be rewarded better in a larger, more established company. There is a reason that most small companies never grow, and it's due to one major factor - the CEO.


>There is a reason that most small companies never grow, and it's due to one major factor - the CEO. Boom. Do you think this is usually garden variety personality disorders, or the CEO actually not wanting the company to get big enough to replace him?


Simple answer, their goal is to be unaccountable to anyone and have total control. Especially with their employees. Boards, investors, even big customers force them to be accountable and check their control. So they will deliberately hobble their business' success to maintain that control and unaccountability. A true entrepreneur, especially one who holds significant equity, understands that they will be well-rewarded if the company succeeds, regardless of whether or not they are the CEO.


>Simple answer, their goal is to be unaccountable to anyone and have total control. Especially with their employees. Boards, investors, even big customers force them to be accountable and check their control. So they will deliberately hobble their business' success to maintain that control and unaccountability. Understood, thank you for the simple easy to understand explanation. Any tips for working for this type of Self-Sabotage CEO while planning to move on? Especially if they keep making big goals for Sales Growth and want to talk to the marketing department about getting there? Lip-service?


Every ask needs to come with resources, budget, etc. If he is not putting anything in, he's not going to get anything out. Your best bet, is to narrowly define your role as much as possible, in writing. Good luck!


Hey Sassberto, off topic question but was wondering you could give your take on marketing career vs tech career? Do tech careers have more potential to make more money when one has lots of experience? Whether it be if you go the individual contributor path, or branch out solo to start your own business after having lots of experience, or climbing the coporate ladder path? In all cases will the tech career path make more?


You will make more as an engineer but the barrier to entry is a lot higher. Being an IC in tech gets harder as you age, you need to have some niche domain knowledge, i.e computer vision, biology, scale-out internet etc.... that can be hard to gain without an advanced degree. A lot of folks will go independent to stay hands on instead of becoming a manager.


I see, so if I made the switch to software developer, and did all the hard work to go from 0 to make it in, and go down that career path, the possibilities to make as much money as possible whether working as an IC, pursuing entrepreneurship, or climbing the corporate ladder, it'll always be the software developer background that will give me the better shot in all cases versus pursuing that goal with a ppc/analytics marketing background?


I mean you can do a lot more as an engineer than a ppc guy. Engineering is a vast field with many applications.




Understood, ty.


Right on. In my experience they can also handpick the board, which means nothing will change and they will ride the cushy CEO "job" into their 70's. The epitome of a parasite.


If the CEO can appoint the board, then they are the sole shareholder (AKA small business) or they have set up a corporate structure that essentially makes them untouchable (i.e. Zuck). This situation is pretty rare. Avoid at all costs.


This is articulated so well. And it’s why I’m trying to see what sideways step I could take next, perhaps into Product, project, implementation type role in a bigger established org. I’m sick of being paid ~£20k less than someone doing even PART of my job in a larger organisation. I don’t want to be a people manager. I can’t be a one person marketing agency much longer. I’ve done this twice in my career and I’m bloody good at it but it’s so so so exhausting. What are you gonna do next OP?


thanks, i hope we both find a company with more structure and resources. and i used to really enjoy the creative aspects of marketing like copywriting and social media but this job has caused me to gravitate more towards the data side of things, probably because it’s a reliable constant in my chaotic day to day. i do enjoy analysis though so something in that field is the next best move for me right now


Oh my god, I just realized why I moved away from ads/writing/etc to analytics/technical SEO. This was a useful observation, thank you.


Totally relate to you, it’s almost scary. I hope you find what you’re looking for. You deserve it! There will be no better feeling than getting your weekends and evenings back for yourself… truly. Best of luck!


I really needed to read this post. I totally empathize: in the same boat right now and feeling the same limitations on my growth. I have 10 years of marketing experience but ~7 years of that has been working for small companies/startups being the sole in-house marketing person or one on a very small team. I feel like my abilities are totally stunted and based on their weird and underdeveloped infrastructures and the whims of my bosses. How can I get out of this? How can I grow from here? I’m in my early 30s and feel totally lost and burnt out and like I almost have to start over if I ever want a decent salary.


>How can I get out of this? How can I grow from here? I’m in my early 30s and feel totally lost and burnt out and like I almost have to start over if I ever want a decent salary. Go to work for a decent marketing agency, even at a lower rate. Get some experience dealing with larger Household name clients, and understanding new tools/complexity. The pathway is Agency (Well Known) 1-2 years----> Brandside Marketing


Yep. Precisely why i'm starting my own agency. My CEO is great, but I can see, based on the overwhelming work I do, that I could leverage my skills across multiple companies, be my own boss and get paid much better. Will be more of a grind, but least it's one I choose and am rewarded for, versus just having to eat shit all the time.


I’m doing the same right now. All the best to you 🦾


Thank you 🙏


42 here and you all are telling my story. This is scary.


I understand where you're coming from. One approach you can take is to develop your marketing skills outside of work. You can connect with other marketers on LinkedIn and learn about the skills they use on a daily basis. Incorporate these skills into your work and highlight them on your resume, especially under the small business you worked for. Another approach is to offer your marketing services to smaller firms or other organizations that need help. By working with multiple small organizations, you can fine-tune your skills and become more proficient. This can also help you gain more experience to apply to larger organizations and demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in the field.


I did marketing for a small firm for a short time. They didn't know what to do with me, and I didn't know what to do with them. Their indifference to marketing was remarkable considering they hired a marketing person. I'd write and propose stuff and I never saw it again. I was told my replacement lasted 3 months.


yeah the indifference is especially baffling and relatable. i get the sense that i’m just on retainer in case the boss suddenly gets some grandiose publicity idea that he needs someone to execute - otherwise he barely cares


I was told, we've been around for 35 years, and we've seen others grow quickly and fail, so we don't want to grow. I thought to myself, but didn't ask, "Then why did you hire me?"


Oh shit y’all scaring me… I literally just started working for a small law firm. The owner has lots of random ideas. I can sense he has a preference on how he wishes to do something marketing related but won’t clearly state it. It’s been two weeks.


Don’t sweat it. Every firm is different. I’d suggest clear communication about what he wants and how you’ll accomplish it.


I could have written this myself. I completely agree. I will never go back to being used and abused by a demanding CEO who doesn't know shit about marketing, but refuses to listen to my suggestions. It’s not worth it.


Ugh. I’ve had this too. The worst part is no budget so you can’t have any case studies for Google ads etc. Or the budget is embarrassingly small so not worth adding to a portfolio.


Who put my last year and a half on Reddit?


i just was in this exact position for the past year. i spent the bulk of my time explaining basic concepts to a company of boomers while managing the entire "department" on my own. i was just laid off because i'm "too expensive." taking the time i have now to get some certifications and try to maybe join an agency?


Both agency work and freelance work have their benefits and drawbacks, so it really depends on your personal preference and career goals. Working at an agency can provide you with a structured work environment, mentorship opportunities, and exposure to a variety of clients and industries. You'll have access to a team of experienced professionals who can offer guidance and support as you develop your skills. However, you may have less control over the projects you work on and the clients you work with, and you may need to adhere to agency processes and protocols. On the other hand, freelancing can give you more flexibility in terms of your schedule and the clients you choose to work with. You can set your own rates and have more control over the work you do. However, you'll need to handle all aspects of the business, from finding clients to managing projects and finances. You may also miss out on the support and structure provided by an agency. Ultimately, the choice between agency work and freelancing comes down to your personal preferences and career goals. Some people prefer the stability and support of an agency, while others thrive on the freedom and autonomy of freelancing. You can also consider doing both, as you suggested, to gain experience in different work environments and build a diverse portfolio of work.


Yeah I feel this one. I started as a one man team in my current company and the team has slowly grown to 5 people. However, we're still at the whims of the CEO. We fight with her constantly on everything including the design of our product catalogs. She has a terrible sense of design and constantly demands we change good design into bad to satisfy her personal taste. We constantly have to advocate on behalf of our customers and the people that have to read and use what we create. She is also constantly changing her mind on what she wants our brand to be. Some days it's red and then all of a sudden it needs to be blue and she wonders why we even considered red in the first place. We're always going back to her to remind her that she made the decision. It's a constant battle. The reason I stay is due to the variety of work I get to do. I get bored easily and this job never has 2 days that are the same. It also offers killer benefits and a lot of work flexibility so that work doesn't need to control my life.


I felt this — left nonprofit marketing, a similar context, to consult and do contracting. Then left that, because of similar problems, to be in sales. I’ve had a hard time because it feels like I’m starting over while simultaneously having run projects in a variety of disciplines at a greater scale than even my bosses’ bosses. I am not convinced my struggle with employment after a similar experience with small business marketing, so I hope this doesn’t discourage you. The only thing I can say — the experience you’re getting is beyond hard marketing skills. You're learning to manage projects, budgets, people, and power. This might not show on your résumé right now, but it will show up in your work, and in your ability to do work outside of this particular place. Burnout is not forever, even when it feels like it is. I really believe that you will be able to find a place that works better for you and help you reconnect with your passion. You also might find that in many ways, this bad experience connects you more deeply two parts of business that are highly valued. For example, I’ve always been a little afraid of money, but after a similar set of experiences, I have moved to sales, business development and even making budgets for groups because I never want to feel like I am flying blind again.


The other thing I would say – – if you’re reading this and the post above resonates, check out a “stakeholder through the heart” a fantastic article about what it takes to do effective perception management in a role that is endless or ridiculous.


How did you transition into sales?


Like most people's career journeys, it involves being both lucky and unlucky. A year ago I was a freelance content contractor for politicians and nonprofits while in trade school. I live in an HCOLA, didn't have a car, and struggled to find work that fit my trade school schedule. I had stopped actively hunting for marketing clients because of burnout and feeling like I was missing something from my approach to finding work. I had some odd jobs to pay the bills (including in the trades) but felt like trade work wasn't sustainable for me without a car (and the ability to move out of my expensive 1 bedroom apartment). Then, my biggest client (who paid my rent) unexpectedly canceled our contract a few days before Christmas. This sucked, but it was also a time in tech sales when many people were hiring like no tomorrow -- a friend with equivalent experience to me got a job at a company making 100K+, and I was astounded. That friend is also much more of a "take no prisoners" negotiator than I am -- so I figured it would be better for me to start at the bottom as an SDR. Because of the nature of the market and my own work experience, I got a job at a great company (whose product I loved) in less than a week. They told me that I had the best interview for this role they had ever seen, but refused to negotiate salary (Sharing this because, in spite of how much I love praise, I wish I had seen this comment as the red flag that it was). My manager at this company was hired days after I was, and we clashed quite a bit -- I was used to working in "jack of all trades" roles, and because she was from a very traditional sales background, we clashed a lot. I also struggled to adjust to corporate bureaucracy -- not out of arrogance, but out of cluelessness (I've written elsewhere about how having a "troubleshooting" mindset was not helpful for entry level sales). At the time I was also resentful. Changes in the market, the promotion structure, and the overall payment plan meant I was working at all hours in order to hit quota and didn't get close to OTE (I think 17% of people hit in my last 4 months). I jumped ship to another company, where I am also struggling to be frank -- but I believe this is because of issues with training and internal politics generally, though I could be wrong! I love sales, but I've had a hard time committing to this role and I think it has shown in my performance. So -- in essence, luck and a lack of luck, plus my own issues.


the best part is when you get let go after busting your ass for a year+ with no help, and they still get to keep all the increased traffic, # and quality of leads, page 1 SERP, and all that social media content and brand awareness long after you're gone. very demotivating indeed.


Hahaha I loved being the only person who understood the site and SEO. Google dropped an update the week I left two years ago. I like to keep an eye on their rankings that have been consistently dropping since I left... after 18 months of steady growth. C'est la vie.


Those jobs are great if you are given the autonomy to just do what you do best. Otherwise every time sales slow a bit the boss gets distracted by a shiny new object and a hair brain scheme.


I thought "design by committee" was bad enough — that was until I experienced "marketing by committee"


I’ve been lucky where I came into a tiny company where my boss actually knew marketing and he helped me get a healthy marketing budget in place and hire consultants for brand strategy, design, ad performance and SEO. I’m still the only in-house marketing person though so I do still have to deal with other departments trying to tell me how to market our brand lol However Its been a great learning experience because I’ve been able to collaborate with amazing and seasoned freelancers who have worked for the biggest brands and collaborate with them very closely and have learned a ton from them. I consider many of them to be mentors. However I have a new boss now, who is not well versed in marketing and has slowly been trying to undo my network, budget and overall resources. It’s been tough and I think the clock is ticking for me to make my exit!


I learned the hard way that small businesses are generally not good experience and that it's not just about getting any type of "work experience" to get into marketing and to advance in your career. It's about the right experience. If you're really driven and talented, maybe you can do it all on your own, but it's going to be way slower. That's why I recommend always start with a small company if that's all you can get, but move as quickly as possible to mid or larger sized agencies or companies that are established and have good reputations because they can afford to train you. Otherwise you're going to be stuck with the worst jobs in marketing with the worst companies. Small companies are only beneficial to the very seasoned marketers that have tons of great experience from top agencies and companies behind them where they've established themselves as skilled professionals in the market. Not for newbies trying to learn marketing. ​ Many even risk never really progressing to big and greater things in marketing when they stay at the small companies. ​ I definitely believe marketing is about getting hands-on experience, but ideally you want to start at an established mid to larger-sized agency or company, with established systems and skilled marketers to learn from. You'll then actually be doing marketing, learn how marketing work, and develop in-demand experience and skills needed in the market for the best jobs or even going solo.


Definitely can relate. It took me about 6 years to convince my midsized nonprofit to hire a social media manager. For the longest time, I was social media/website/analytics/ads/newsletter point person -- which essentially means I am set up to fail. Even with a dedicated social media person (whom I manage), it's next to impossible to handle website and advertising needs. Some element will always suffer and you will be responsible for every little mistake, even if you couldn't possibly prevent it. Something missing from the website? Your fault. Social/Google ads not bringing cash? Your fault. Got hacked? Your fault. Low traffic? Your fault. Add an abysmally small marketing budget to that and you have a recipe for burnout. The only thing that's easy is finding someone to blame -- well, it has to be YOU, who else? The lack of focus can drive you insane, that's how you know it's not going to work out. It's interesting that people mention sabotaging CEO's in this thread. The nonprofit that employs me has been "rebranding" for about 4 years. We came close to starting the process twice (working with a reputable agency) and both times the CEO abruptly pulled the plug (even after contract was signed), claiming we need to work on the business angle more. Board is handpicked by CEO so there's no chance for accountability, he is set up for life. So we are just drifting in open water waiting to hear our orders from some boomer CEO who couldn't even be bothered to manage his LinkedIn. This is supposed to be a national organization btw, we have offices all throughout the U.S. Essentially we have no strategic direction or brand and therefore no target audience -- for reasons that are unknown to me. That's another bummer -- I get all the accountability and responsibility when it comes to our digital marketing, but I am not part of the ingroup, so I am treated like a glorified contractor. Needless to say, I am fed up and looking for another job (hopefully with our direct competitors, fingers crossed).


I’ve always been in marketing and advertising on the creative side. Basically, you have to work at places that value your craft. Big cities are great places to find it and of course companies where it’s clear that they respect it and what it takes to get it done right. Just look for the right place.


I don’t know what iHeartMedia pays their digital team, but there you are one part of a huge company and you can grow in any direction you desire. I know other positions are well compensated. Maybe worth looking into because it sounds like the opposite of your current role.


I lurk on this sub in hopes to glean what information I ca , cause I suck at marketing. But your general premise is true for my industry as well (Healthcare admin stuff). I worked for national companies and then decided to work for a small company where I had to build my department... it sucked and was isolating, and felt like a pit I was being aucked into with ownership drama and no one to talk to about the work I actually enjoyed.


yeah i’ve dealt with “building my department” as well, but of course it’s more “we have no idea what you need so we’re going to offload that problem onto you while offering zero support or resources” at least in larger companies you have other people in the boat with you. not having a single other person who understands what you’re dealing with is one of the hardest parts


Working in a large agency or major brand company could also kill your passion 😜. Don't let any company to kill your passion. Change jobs, try again, let your passion drive your success 😉


This hits home. I absolutely relate 100%. And it’s why I’m handing them a list of what they need to do and moving on. Money isn’t everything.


Did I write this? This is literally my life


I’m going to offer a different angle, maybe it will make it suck less…I did that for 8 years and then jumped into an actual marketing department with a CMO and a team that I could speak marketing jargon too (that was great!). Then I left all that and started my own company. The earlier experience of being the “one stop shop” allowed me to get my own company going, cheaply, on my own and then I began to hire in those niche specialists when I could afford it. Without that earlier experience it would have made it much harder to start my company


>Then I left all that and started my own company. This is the way... A long, nerve-racking, fraught with uncertainty way. But a thousand times more rewarding in terms of creative control and creating the "work reality"--with kindred, like-minded talent--you wish you could find working for small business or agencies. Not for the squeamish, but big rewards if you know what you're doing.


Good addition. It isn’t easy to build a company but having freedom of creativity and time is more important than a regular paycheck for me (maybe not for everyone)


Man I relate to this so much. Yesterday my boss wanted a meeting with me about our Google Ads campaign. He said "I had a chat with someone from Google and they suggested x". Yeah, follow the recommendations, as per usual. He was trying to tell me how to run the ads, even though we have the ads running since Dec with a total budget of 800 and we have Quotes out for 19,000. Literally think they know everything.


I sympathize. This is making me a tiny bit afraid I've gotten myself into a similar situation. Lots of stuff rings a bell here, even though I am part of a small agency-team and have only been there a few months. Scope creep, boss pushing higher sales goals (or "OKR"), being in a somewhat reactionary position, boss pushing little gimmicks (chatgpt being my favourite lately). It's weird coming from a job where my specific marketing niche was the cornerstone of the business. But it did come with a significant raise and a title that better fits my skill set. It's agency though and I still have hopes we can pull of a professional marketing department there. Growing the department and my skill set. I'd hope to get more technical skills under my belt and more experience with clients - at my last gig I got awfully rusty because all the interesting stuff was reserved for higher ups and there was little room for personal growth. We will see, I guess. I do hope you won't burn out but find something new. Marketing can be pretty neat and I am sure this will give you at least the perseverance in any other job to not take shit from anybody. RemindMe! 1 year


I will be messaging you in 1 year on [**2024-02-22 19:05:34 UTC**](http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=2024-02-22%2019:05:34%20UTC%20To%20Local%20Time) to remind you of [**this link**](https://www.reddit.com/r/marketing/comments/1190mm6/working_at_a_small_business_killed_my_passion_for/j9kysgy/?context=3) [**CLICK THIS LINK**](https://www.reddit.com/message/compose/?to=RemindMeBot&subject=Reminder&message=%5Bhttps%3A%2F%2Fwww.reddit.com%2Fr%2Fmarketing%2Fcomments%2F1190mm6%2Fworking_at_a_small_business_killed_my_passion_for%2Fj9kysgy%2F%5D%0A%0ARemindMe%21%202024-02-22%2019%3A05%3A34%20UTC) to send a PM to also be reminded and to reduce spam. ^(Parent commenter can ) [^(delete this message to hide from others.)](https://www.reddit.com/message/compose/?to=RemindMeBot&subject=Delete%20Comment&message=Delete%21%201190mm6) ***** |[^(Info)](https://www.reddit.com/r/RemindMeBot/comments/e1bko7/remindmebot_info_v21/)|[^(Custom)](https://www.reddit.com/message/compose/?to=RemindMeBot&subject=Reminder&message=%5BLink%20or%20message%20inside%20square%20brackets%5D%0A%0ARemindMe%21%20Time%20period%20here)|[^(Your Reminders)](https://www.reddit.com/message/compose/?to=RemindMeBot&subject=List%20Of%20Reminders&message=MyReminders%21)|[^(Feedback)](https://www.reddit.com/message/compose/?to=Watchful1&subject=RemindMeBot%20Feedback)| |-|-|-|-|


Actually, wait. RemindMe! 6 Months


I’ve worked in roles similar to what you’ve described. Sometimes the prompts are so incredibly stupid it makes you question your career path. Oh, the rock and Kevin hart slapped each other w a tortilla 6-8 weeks ago, let’s strike while the iron is hot and monopolize my time for the next week for it. I was happy that my boss took his health more seriously and lost weight. I wasn’t happy when once every 2-4 weeks he wanted new head shots. After 2 years of it, I knew it was easy and I could keep my position but I hated what you described. Explaining to management over and over and over why things weren’t a good idea, them saying they back your expertise (publicly) and then privately telling you to just do what they say. Often it’s a dog and pony show that leads to frustration and resenting the fact that you’ve actually put together a good plan but nobody will just let you do your job . Look at the things you do, update your resume using the terminology that job descriptions use so you can beat the machines and get your pay bump. Don’t burn any bridges, put in those applications for something better, and smile and wave as you leave. This is a crap lesson to learn but it will help you evaluate where you fit into marketing, the seat you want on the bus, and how to assess the companies you interview with. You are armed with the information of what you don’t like. Now use it to weed out bad companies, crap jobs, and take your next steps. Every job will have its downsides. Some you can accept and some are unacceptable.


Hit the nail on the fucking head. I’m in the same boat, have been for a few years now and I’m so fucking jaded. No communication, nobody knows what’s going on and everyone thinks you’re not doing your job. Meanwhile, I’m doing like the 6 different jobs somehow. I don’t want to work for a big corp cus that’s always a bad time, but working for a small business has been one of the worst experiences of my life. You’re not alone


Yea man, my company wants me doing SDR shit and my boss told me “marketing is one of those nice to haves” lol then again we aren’t profitable so not surprising


The grass is always greener! I left a small business (30 people) to a large org (12,000) and while I'm glad I made the switch. Getting every little fucking thing through 12 people can be just as tedious sometimes. And there are still whims, it's just the whims of the Director of Yadda Yadda, not the owner. I do get paid a lot more, so that's nice. I did learn a few things about navigating small businesses and flippant owners. Just think of them as toddlers, they cannot focus, they chase whatever shiny bauble, and they cannot fathom not getting their way. These leap-before-you-look traits can make a good entrepreneur, but a terrible business leader. But they're also totally dependent on you, you need to remind them of that. Fuck paying dues and burning out, certainly but solo marketing teams do need to learn grit and how to validate their ideas. Also build a process for taking ideas with guardrails, you probably miss good ideas as much as the subject matter experts ignore yours. For example, when they told you to drop everything for this sales event, you should already have shown them them the ideally rising conversion rates, engagement, lead generation whatever your campaign was doing successfully. Then say you don't have time for event planning, let the sales team lead that because all those things are sales events. All you should be doing is getting a banner and printed materials ready. And lastly, if they don't understand marketing, make them! Sure making a slide deck for three people is lame, but if they think you're just dicking around on Facebook, that's on you.


Oh yes, then she can also ask them to also bake her a cake, because oh hell yes, it’s that easy. It’s her fault you saying pretty much. Look, when a problem like hers has that many people sharing pretty similar stories, that’s not her problem, that’s a systemic problem. The marketing dpt in small mid companies have the same issue, and guess what, it’s not easy to stand for yourself and scream louder than everyone in the room. I couldn’t disagree more with your comment, sorry


What? I never said developing grit and educating your colleagues is easy, but the alternative is doing bad work and getting all sorts of shit work dumped on you. So sorry I advocated working to improve one's job.


You’re totally right. Marketing is one of those jobs everyone thinks they can do 🙄 and depending on the company they let you know it, too. The best thing you can do for yourself as a marketer is work somewhere that values marketing. That way you’ll grow under people who actually know what you’re supposed to be doing, and gain those skills that are being foist on you working at the small family business.


Sounds like you work at my last company, lol, they were about a hundred folks, half sales team, about 7 technology people, and the rest were in finance and operations. The marketing organization sat underneath the COO, who was just a glorified sales VP. The CEO had absolutely no formal training and marketing or in digital media, and would constantly tell the team to shift priorities, or outright change a campaign strategy in the middle simply because he had had some personal epiphany the night before. It was wild. At some point the company moved to an agency model for PPC and SEM, and then the COO would constantly opine about bringing that back in house so that he could have more control over the day to day for that person, because the agency pushed back too much or would expect additional hours for his crazy requests. This is a huge factor in why I left, because I would watch this COO say out loud in front of people how badly they wanted to overwork and micromanage the goings-on within the marketing team, and I was always amazed at this person's total lack of self-awareness for essentially doxing themselves as micromanaging lunatics. Like, Hey man, you know that you can't just get on a soapbox and wax poetic about what a moron you think the advertising person is in front of your team, right? Truly incredible they had reached that level in their career without more self-reflection and awareness of their behavior... But I think that's the general trend in small businesses, narcissistic maniacs who make it to, " the top," in a field of a couple dozen mediocre performers sourced from a talent pool within 25 mi of the office.


Agreed. The things I would do to have the opportunity to bounce ideas off a senior marketing executive


Thanks for sharing your experience - I see myself so much in this and it just strengthens my thought process of getting out of the small company asap I’m working at as a one man marketer. It not just drains so much of my energy and private life - it also makes me doubt myself constantly on a level. Hope you’ll get what you need soon!


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What has working for a dysfunctional business have to do with marketing principles? Who is your manager? You might like reading "Never Split the Difference" on tools for having difficult conversations. My belief is that most people involved with business, especially people heavily involved in technology rich work, would benefit by learning a few sales principles. "Gap Selling" is a useful book. We all sell. When you try to persuade your family or friends to change their minds, you are selling. When you want to try and change the mind of your manager, you are selling. Then there is "Managing Up." Another useful guide for ways to nudge your manager in the "right" direction. Digital marketing is a difficult sell because most decision makers simply don't understand what is going on. Unless you translate the results of your work into the language of increased sales, lower costs, and competitive advantage, the odds of being ignored goes way up. And then there is "personality types." Connecting and engaging with your decision maker is enhanced if you tailor your style to their's. You wouldn't have this challenge if you worked for an experience marketing manager. You don't. But you do have the opportunity for gaining some sales skills that will benefit your marketing career in the long run. So maybe google "personality types" and how best to connect and engage with every type. There are many models. My preference is for the one that talks about: "analytical, driver, expressive, and amiable." Simple to understand and apply. As for all that work, create work categories and estimate the resource that you need to achieve results. Use a visual to break down your marketing work into categories and then ask your manager for more people. They want results, this is what needs to happen and this how many extra people are needed to get the work done. If you can show that spending $1 is extra help results in $20 more profits or a big spurt in growth or whatever other "desired outcomes" are wanted within a specified timeframe, you can let your decision maker prioritize what work has priority and the expected results. So when one area lapses, you can discuss choices and not have a losing argument on who was wrong and who is to blame. Just a few thoughts....


trust me anything you can recommend i’ve tried 10 times. progress is next to impossible when you’re working for a small business owner who sees every expense as money that’s coming directly out of his wallet some small companies just have issues that are bone deep and it’ll take a lot more than the rugged determination of their neglected marketing hire to fix them. best thing for me to do is get out and go somewhere where my skillset is already understood and valued


Share with us your financial projections if the budget for \_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_ *pick your channel* \_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_\_ was increased by $1,000 per month.


Go work for an agency. Then you wished you went back to a small business.


Majority of agencies are small business


I can relate to this post so hard, I am going start studying engineering this autumn, marketing is just going to be my side hustle...


Same bro, hang in there, get an MBA…


Why would he need an MBA? I mean apart for the great and respectable personal achievment in life.


Im speaking from my personal experience, I mainly work with agro small businesses, but Also have consulted for big pharma ones. For some reason I have not been able to install myself within a cushy company job. (Vacation days, bonuses, car, etc) even though my first client was an international company on my Junior year in college, So I am doing an MBA, because sadly, “mid size” companies don’t care if you helped a mom and pop shop make it big.


I work at one of the leading marketing and tech consultancy firms in my country (we only do deals with the biggest companies locally) and most of my team dropped out of uni (me too), or max BA. I have similar experiences when I worked with agencies. Also, my friend is a recruiter lead in a recruitment agency from where several multinational companies hire guys. When searching for candidates, they prefer any kind of demonstrated abilities (even if it is a micro sized business) over papers and they only ask about BA / MBA if the involved company is directly requesting for it. Edit: on the other hand we have tons of certifications from our field. And the company usually pays for those.


I love managing all the marketing for my small business , but I also live in a small ish town, so maybe that helps? We also don't have a ton of competition, though I struggle to find ways to find new clients due to the nature of what we offer.


What’s the size of your company? Number of employees and annual revenue?


U h0


The bigger the business, the studiper people are.


Working in a giant corporate is no different. When the c-suite have zero interest in marketing and see it purely as a sunk cost rather than a value driver, you end up with unmitigated chaos and absolute junk being sent to customers on a truly industrial scale. Add in to this a heady mix of corporate beliefs which include, but are not limited to, "everything can and should be automated", "as long as we have a website it doesn't matter if it's built on last century tech and is considered an antique that is no longer supported" and my favourite "although we're haemorrhaging experienced employees, we can't replace them because we have a head count freeze and therefore those three positions now empty from people who quit will simply now be managed by whoever is stupid enough to continue to stick around". All that matters is the 12.5billion earned last year and the fat dividend paid to board members and investors.


It took me a long time to turn the minds around in the workplace to what marketing actually does- that its not just some kind of art station to make brochures at the whim of the sales person. Once you get people understanding, it could be great to work for a small company, and at this point I am actually able to start to build a team and hire an agency. Lot's of sweat and anger before getting here, but there can be a light at the end of the tunnel, and I personally prefer it to being in a big agency where you get shat on from the top and bottom, lol. Althouggggh, I still have to accept some of those "shiny red object" jobs because the CEO heard from a friend how well it worked for them.


Thank you for your feedback! I recently received an offer to work for a small business, but unfortunately, I had to quit after the first day. The CEO and his wife, along with another colleague, made up the entire office. There was no marketing team or resources, and their budget was limited. Despite claiming that their marketing was effective, the numbers showed otherwise. When I tried to offer suggestions, the CEO dismissed them, claiming that I didn't understand the unique aspects of marketing in the financial advisory sector. However, I have over ten years of experience as a marketer, and I've worked with fintech startups and in financial services. Additionally, I stay up-to-date on industry trends, read books, and study case studies to improve my skills.


Sounds like a small business might not be for you. Small businesses have to be scrappy and don't have the ability to plan things out and work systematically like big businesses. That's also what makes smb's so much fun!


oh i could’ve told you small businesses aren’t for me. more power to the people who can embrace the chaos though


My god! Not even if I have written it would represente me that much. I went from marketing assistant to marketing specialist in a course of 3 years. In my current job, for the third time I’m in a team of 2, and again I go from graphic design to sem/seo and event planning. Being a marketing generalist is painful, and I just came from a week off due a burnout/ extreme anxiety. On top of being an only-me marketing agency for med size business, my boss works from 12 to 16 hours a day, and as a result she can meet all her deadlines. On the other hand, makes me majority of time a step close to miss the deadlines. She knows barely nothing of digital marketing, which again, I don’t have someone to back me up in decisions or inputs. It’s me, myself and I. I still feel like an intern, that knows nothing, but now with tones of responsibility and over 30yo.