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New Year, new you. Retrain and become a marketer

Looking to retrain and break into a marketing career in 2024? Check out our 6 month marketing challenge and find that new role you want.

Is it time for a change?

We’ve all been there. You get to the Christmas break and think “Next year is going to be different!”. You’re tired of your job, want to retrain, or have decided to work on plan B. But what can you do?

In this article, I’m going to propose a bit of a challenge for anyone looking to get into marketing as a career. This will be aimed at people with little to no understanding or experience in marketing. However, if you’ve already started your journey, some of the resources could be still useful.

See this as a little bit of a challenge and something to put you out of your comfort zone. How it works is like this:

  • We’ll assume that you already have some sort of job that’s helping you to tick over, so full-time study isn’t quite viable at the moment;
  • You’ll set aside about 6 hours a week to study;
  • You’ll have  6  months to complete the tasks on this list;
  • You’ll spend about £150 – £200 or thereabouts on courses and books over the 6 months.

This challenge is not designed to be easy. I’ve packed a lot into each month on purpose because if you push yourself, it’ll confirm that you want that change. Nothing good comes easy.


The 6-month reinvention marketing challenge

Month 1

Month one is the start of your journey and as such the basic foundations need to be laid down. Here are your options, stick with one, but, if you complete it early, think about starting another:

  1. Principles of Marketing by Philip Kotler – A beefy book on everything to do with marketing. It’s used by pretty much 99% of academic institutions for their course materials so it’s a great place to start when you’re looking to build the basics. Get a used or digital copy if you can as you’ll save money doing so.
  2. Digital Marketing by Dave Chaffey – Another relatively beefy book. This time, it focuses purely on digital marketing. It’s got a lot of the core concepts in as well. It’s closely tied to CIM’s digital certifications as well. Get a used or digital copy if you can as you’ll save money doing so.
  3. Free courses in England – Digital Marketing This may run over slightly depending on how much you study, but could easily be completed in the first month.
  4. Google Digital Garage complete: Fundamentals of digital marketing; Make sure customers find your online; Promote business with online advertising; Understand customers needs and online behaviour; Business communication; and Promote a business with content.

The idea here is to study a little bit each evening. Maybe 30 – 60 minutes. Get into a routine of being proactive with your study. Whether this is after work, before work, or before bed, as long as you do a little bit each day, you’re well on your way.

If you complete this month’s task early, try to read/watch as much as you can online. Websites like Hubspot are a great place to learn about all sorts of marketing as well as do additional certifications.

Look into specific areas of marketing that may be of immediate interest to you such as:
  • Social media;
  • Content marketing;
  • Email marketing;
  • PR;
  • Copywriting;
  • SEO;
  • Paid advertising.

Month 2

We’re going to look at some digital marketing certifications from Hubspot this month. Hubspot provides a huge amount of resources as well as tools to help businesses with their marketing. Sign up for your free account and complete between 2 – 4 of these certifications:

  • Content Marketing;
  • Inbound;
  • Social Media Marketing;
  • Digital Advertising;
  • Digital Marketing;
  • Inbound Marketing Optimisation;
  • Social Media Marketing Certification 2.

These courses range from 2 hours to 8+. However, choose courses that appeal to you and what you’re interested in from a digital perspective. It’s worth noting if you don’t already have a LinkedIn account, it’s time to get one of these set up so that you can start displaying some of these certifications.

Additional reading:

If you like to learn via reading, here are two old but still great reads. Both are relatively short, but provide really good nuggets of information about marketing in general:

  • Purple Cow by Seth Godin;
  • 22 Immutable laws of marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout.

Month 3

This month is going to be all about Google. A huge majority of businesses use Google Analytics and Google Ads. So, that’s what you’re going to study toward. The idea with all of this is to make you as employable as possible:

There are loads of others you can look at, but, the idea here is to get a solid basis of as many of the Google Ad platforms as you can. PPC and paid search are big areas of digital marketing these days, so having a solid grounding in them can help you land a job.

Month 4

In month 4 you’re going to do some free and paid online courses with platforms like LinkedinLearning and Skillshare, etc. Consider the following:

  • Sign up for a free trial with LinkedIn Learning. You may need to add some credit card details, so set a reminder to cancel before it renews. There are 39 long courses on this platform which are all great.
  • Similarly, visit Skillshare and see if there are any courses on there that interest you. Pay particular attention to anything on sale.
  • Udemy is a great website to get your hands on some cheap courses. They run lots of sales and offer thousands of niche and generalist courses.

Your approach here should be to enhance existing knowledge, but, two particular areas I want you to look at will be SEO and email marketing. They may not be of utmost interest to you, however, knowing the basics in these channels will pay its weight in gold.

Additional tasks:

At this point, you’ve learned quite a lot about digital marketing. So, you’re going to start a blog, newsletter, or SM channel on a chosen subject or area. The idea here is that you’re going to start implementing some of these skills including:

  • Using tools like Google Analytics to monitor website traffic;
  • Writing and building content;
  • Promoting content on social media channels;
  • Building an online community;
  • Playing around with new tools and technologies.

Speaking of which, here are some tools  and tech you may want to start looking at learning or playing around with:

  1. CMS (Content Management Systems) such as WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, or Shopify;
  2. ESPs (Email Service Providers) like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor, etc;
  3. Social media management tools like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and Buffer;
  4. Asset creation tools like Canva, GIMP, or Photoshop;
  5. Excel or Google Sheets.

Again, there may be cheap courses you can find on the websites above about these things. Ultimately, YouTube and the internet are good places to find free information on all of this.

Month 5

This month will be focussed on paid social channels. Complete courses on any of the following:

Paid social is a big industry with billions spent by companies each year. Having a good understanding of general approaches and tactics as well as platform-specific knowledge is invaluable and something that many graduates don’t acquire during their degrees. Having certificates in all of this shows how proactive you are.

Additional reading:

Buy three books.

Until now, we’ve not picked up much on copywriting. But, copywriting is an incredibly valuable skill in marketing. If you haven’t already started your own blog, you need to do this now. Just sign up for a free account and start writing content. The more you do this, the better you’ll get. This website can also form part of your portfolio that you can show prospective employers.

Month 6

Month six is a generalist month whereby you’re going to focus on building knowledge and practical skills in several chosen areas of marketing.

Your main goal now is to choose 1 to 3 areas of marketing that you’ve taken a particular interest in and hone those skills. So, whether you’re interested in strategy, SEO, copywriting, design, etc, sit down and try to choose three complimentary areas of marketing that you’ve studied and build upon those areas. Using some of the resources I’ve provided above, as well as any others that you’ve found on your travels, find any additional courses, books, or certifications, that you haven’t already obtained and continue to develop in those areas.

At this point, it’s also time to start applying for jobs.

Your task now is to ensure that you have completed all the following:
  • Updated your CV with all of the certifications you’ve done;
  • Discussed your blog, SM channel, and any other projects you’ve been working on within your CV. Ensure you pop the link to your blog on there;
  • Upload your CV to Indeed, CV Library, and any other job boards that you see fit;
  • Ensure your LinkedIn profile is complete and start building your network with people within marketing. Consider using a trial of LinkedIn Premium to make this process faster;
  • If you’re using the LinkedIn Premium trial, you can search specifically for hiring managers within marketing. Connect with these people and send them your CV;
  • Actively seek out recruitment companies that specialise in marketing recruitment and start having conversations with them;
  • Consider registering on freelancing websites. A quick Google search will show dozens of them. List your chosen areas of marketing as services and actively bid on projects;
  • Search for marketing events near you and get out there and meet people within the field.


Challenge complete

If you’ve reached the end of the six months and have done all of the things that I’ve listed, the chances are,  you’re in an incredibly positive place right now. Look back on what you’ve achieved. It’s a hell of a lot in a relatively short period in the grand scheme of things. Hopefully, what this process has ultimately also done is shape you into a proactive individual when it comes to continuous learning and development. The whole point behind this challenge wasn’t just to help you gain knowledge and skills in marketing, but, to enable you to show employers that over the last 6 months, you’ve busted your ass to retrain and build a solid foundation in marketing. This proactive mentality alone can land you a job.

Remember, what you’ve done create a narrative that you can discuss with others, and marketers are suckers for a good story. Moving forward, you’re going to hit the job search and continue to build relationships with people in the marketing sector. The bigger your network the more opportunities will come knocking. So get out there and start mingling with other marketers and building that LinkedIn presence and I bet in no time you’ll land that job you’ve been looking for.


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