When approaching a career in fashion marketing, it can be difficult to figure out what kind of career pathway might be expecting you, once you enter the industry.
To help you map out what could be a career-long journey in the fashion industry, in this post we’re looking at 5 career steps that can comprise a full career for a fashion marketer.
Take our advice with a grain of salt, as each career is unique.
At the same time, it’s possible to see how, the steps we’ve laid out for you will be moving from a series of operational responsibilities to managerial tasks, to strategic roles.
Let’s dive right into it.
Level 1 – Sales
The first step in marketing is ideally in sales. Sales are not marketing, but it’s a really good foundation to have if you’re in this sector for the long haul.
There are many definitions of the distinction between sales and marketing out there, but to simplify the matter we’ve developed our own.
What is Sales
Sales are transaction-focused activities, they are designed to leverage the emotional and experiential drive customers experience when they are in-store or online to get them to conduct a transaction. Sales are a space where companies convert relationships into clientele.
What is Marketing
Marketing starts much sooner and has to do with developing a relationship with your customer by taking him or her through a variety of stages which may include: (1) building awareness for the brand, (2) differentiating the brand from the competition, and (3) providing the right value and benefits that customers are willing to spend money for.
Sales are a great place to start a career in business because it allows you to build your character and develop relational skills.
In the context of fashion, sales are a great place to start as well, as it allows you to be in touch with the brand and experience firsthand both its tangible and intangible values.
These are some of the key skills you’ll acquire through a job in fashion sales:
- Learn how to relate to customers (including high net worth individuals) and propose complex products with functional, social, and emotional value.
- Learn how to communicate the intangible values of fashion, building vocabulary and persuasion skills.
- Understand pricing and distribution strategies connected to selling fast-moving consumer goods.
- Build your character as a salesperson, and be able to conduct negotiations and problem-solving activities.
- Build customer service skills that allow you to become empathetic and helpful towards your customers.
- Acquire market data that allows you to refine your skills and abilities. (More on this in the next section of the article).
All of these elements are essential to understand how to focus on the value that customers are buying from your brand so that your brand communications, can be better focused on exactly what customers are willing to buy. In order to make these calls brands rely on market research and data acquisition.
In order to acquire customers’ data, brands invest a lot in market research.
That’s why in the next section of our post we’re going to look at the next natural step in your marketing career, in the area of market research.
Level 2 – Market Research
Data is changing the fashion industry and every fashion brand is moving at large strides towards acquiring, processing, and acting upon new types of data sets.
Marketing professionals are not mad med anymore, or people who are able to make decisions by building strong instincts and gut feelings.
On the contrary, marketers have become math men or people who are always looking for validation anytime they start seeing new patterns in the market.
A brand can develop different research approaches and strategies, as they try to decode customer behavior in their domestic or international markets, using a variety of research methodologies. If you’d like to learn more about this, here’s an article from our blog.
The issue with market research roles is that collecting market evidence is not only connected to acquiring data but also to processing it and finding its hidden meaning. This second component of market research, connected to data interpretation, is another big hurdle businesses need to overcome. We explore this latter issue in an article from our blog entitled: The Challenges to Using Data.
Once you have experienced both the tangible\relational aspect of sales and the more data-driven dimension of market research, you are ready for a more fully rounded position in product\collection promotion. That’s what we are going to discuss in the next section of our post.
Level 3 – Product\Collection Promotion
Great! In product and\or collection promotion you have reached the halfway point of our 5-step career pathway.
At this level, you’re starting to approach managerial tasks, which connect multiple individuals, and roles to your marketing and communication strategy.
In product or collection promotion, you are deciding on behalf of your company what are some of the most relevant communication channels and strategies you’ll use to build your communication campaign.
At this stage you are most likely to work on how to communicate the brand message as opposed to designing the message itself, as this is a higher-end decision that is conducted at a strategic level.
In order to be successful in the product\collection promotion role, you are going to have to bring to the table all of your experience in dealing with customers, and understanding their habits and behaviors while at the same time being able to validate and support your ideas with research-based arguments
At this level, the content typologies you are more likely to make use of to communicate your products are two: owned media, as in the form of content marketing, and earned media as in the context of social media.
You may also be using paid media, such as advertising, following a clear brief indicating the brand guidelines and communication rules. If you’d like to learn more about the ways in which owned, earned, and paid media are used to communicate your brand, we’ve got an article that looks in-depth into how to do this effectively.
However, if you want to be creative at 100% you may need to move an extra level to strategic advertising, where the fashion dream factor is designed.
We’ll look into this in the next section of our post.
Level 4 – Advertising
Advertising and product promotion have blurring borders but they can be identified by focusing on how focused and expensive the communication can be.
Advertising requires brands to be bold and daring when it comes to communication as the advertising medium is not designed to foster relationships, but is instead focused on converting clients with irresistible offers.
In fashion, advertising provides companies with a much more challenging risk\reward relationship. A great adverting campaign can completely reposition your brand and make it relevant, interesting, and current. A badly delivered one can make your business fail overnight.
The reason why this type of advertising is not at the same level of product\collection promotion is that at this stage the stakes are much higher.
The impact of your decisions on the brands’ market success can make or break the company.
Moreover, in advertising, the key DNA features of your brand, collection and products are established for all other communication divisions. These decisions need to be made up high in the organization so that all of the company’s sub-divisions may support the strategy.
You could say that the level of decisions you are taking is completely strategic at this point, and because of the meetings, conversations, and events you are taking part in, you may be setting yourself up for the fifth and final step: public relations.
We are going to discuss this in more detail in the next section of the post.
Level 5 – Public Relations
People taking over roles in public relations are going to embody the brand itself. When speaking on behalf of the brand, your role is to represent the brand itself.
In this sense, being a spokesperson for the brand puts you in a position of prominence, based on a variety of qualities that require professionals aiming at these roles to have a lot going for them.
- Being an established and respected professional. Because of your track record of success, you are a recognized and esteemed figure in the industry with a reputation of hard work and integrity which allows you to participate in higher-level debates involving both private company matters as well as issues of public relevance.
- Complete knowledge of the company. You are extremely prepared when it comes to the processes, operations, and strategic goals of your business. This is a quality you have developed in part from experience, and in part for being involved in very high-level conversations with key company shareholders and stakeholders.
- Your understanding of the business’ vision and mission. At this level, your focus is not on what the company does, or the process through which the business operates. At this level, your communication focuses on your business “why”. This is because your role is to focus on your organizational purpose, or the change it wants to bring to the world.
This is the top of marketing role and the successful celebration of a professional career pathway spanning from the retail level to the most prestigious meetings.
Great! Now that we’ve covered the 5 steps to your fashion marketing pathway, we can go ahead and draw some conclusive remarks.
There you have it! In this post, we’ve looked at the 5 steps of a fashion marketing career pathway.
Every career is unique, and it’s not possible to establish a career route that works for everyone, however, in this post, we tried to clarify the 5 dimensions of marketing that any professional will experience in a way or another during their years in the field.
At every step of the way there are things to learn, let’s review them together.
- Sales. At this stage, you’ll learn a lot of people skills and you’ll build your character as you experience the highs and challenges of sales and persuasion.
- Market Research. In market research you’ll make friends with the quantitative aspects of fashion marketing, understanding how to identify, collect and process data to draw actionable insights into your strategy.
- Product\Collection Development. In this role, you’ll be able to conjugate the tangible and intangible aspects of a brand: you’ll make use of the direct experience with your customers, and connect it to the information you have on your market so that you can understand how to build a product and create an audience for your brand.
- Advertising. In advertising, you’ll blend your own vision and insights into the long-standing market experience your brand has built, conjugating what you know with what the brand is and has always been for its customers.
- Public Relations. In public relations, your role as a spokesperson for the brand is diplomatic. Your understanding of the ins and outs of the business is at such a high level you are able to fully embody what your fashion brand is all about.
If you are interested to read up more information on the world of fashion marketing don’t hesitate to look into our blog for many more free resources available for you. Enjoy!