Finding Universal Truths Within the Marketing Industry

A diverse array of career paths means there’s no one way to find your place.

Written by Jeff Kirshman
Published on Feb. 11, 2022
Finding Universal Truths Within the Marketing Industry
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Marketing is everything. 

It’s a career that rewards resilience and versatility. With so many channels to reach potential customers, successful marketers must wield an assortment of tricks to pull from when implementing various branding strategies. 

Progressing in your career works the same way. Just as the variations of marketing firms run the gamut, from digital media to traditional advertising campaigns, there’s a diverse array of leadership paths your career can take.

“Marketing means a lot of things to a lot of people,” said Birk Cooper, chief marketing officer at mobile shopping platform Fetch. “The key is understanding what version of marketing your company needs at that point in time.” 

It’s a broad field that defies limitations, which makes for the slippery challenge of tracking trends that are constantly changing. As Built In Chicago learned through conversations with two local marketing leaders, an inherent curiosity and willingness to go the extra mile are the best ways to find out where you fit in best in such a dynamic industry.


Maureen Daugherty
Marketing Director • CareAdvisors


Where did you get your start in marketing, and which channels would you consider yourself an expert at?

My introduction to the industry was with a small corporate marketing department. I was exposed to every aspect of the discipline, from implementing highly visible advertising campaigns to creating more subtle content development for websites, direct mail, social media and newsletters. While my job description initially focused on media relations, event planning and other public relations activities, I was able to gain experience in other areas when the team came together on major projects and our work overlapped.


How were you able to gather enough expertise in a broad array of other channels to understand and use them in a cohesive strategy?

Most marketing campaigns use an omnichannel strategy across digital platforms and live-contact experiences to reach the broadest possible audience. My own experience was developed on the job, as digital channels were introduced to the marketplace. For those looking for experience in multiple channels in order to get that first job, there are online digital marketing courses, internships and entry-level positions where you can develop expertise. For those working within a smaller marketing team, volunteer to assist on a campaign that is outside your regular scope of work and learn from a mentor in your organization. Additionally, you can expand your skills by staying on top of trends in the industry.

You can expand your skills by staying on top of trends in the industry.”


What makes for a successful marketing leader?

Have fun! Be innovative and always be listening. Create a marketing strategy that is based on customer needs and supports your company’s corporate strategy. Automate tasks whenever possible so you can dedicate more attention to time-consuming projects. Surround yourself with a dynamic team with a variety of skills and a willingness to learn new techniques along the way.



Birk Cooper
Chief Marketing Officer • Fetch


Where did you get your start in marketing, and which channels would you consider yourself an expert at?

I started my career in the brand space, working on strategy and big equity campaigns. Over the past seven years, though, I’ve focused on the intersection of product, consumer data and go-to-market strategy to build a powerful marketing engine that drives our growth. When you excel in those three areas, you can create an exceptional acquisition engine and craft communication strategies that result in long-term benefits for the company. 


How were you able to gather enough expertise in a broad array of other channels to understand and use them in a cohesive strategy?

Curiosity and a willingness to go the extra mile. I’ve written copy, built email campaigns, onboarded attribution partners, executed Facebook and Google performance media campaigns, developed retention strategies, worked with app-store optimization and SEO companies, and dabbled in many other disciplines of marketing. A lot of that comes from pure curiosity and a desire to learn, but it also stems from where we were as a company. We had fewer than 20 employees when I joined Fetch, and I’ve gained a lot of hands-on experience over the years as we’ve scaled. We thankfully have people who have much deeper expertise in nearly all of these areas now, but having developed that knowledge and understanding along the way is invaluable in being able to operate at a higher level and help steer the company toward a vision.

Optimism is a trait all great leaders have, regardless of discipline.”


What skills make a successful marketing leader?

Though more of a personality trait than a skill, curiosity forces you to question things, look again, dig deeper and seek out new ideas. 

A second skill is “pattern matching,” which is a technical term that I’ve adopted from our chief technology officer, David Berk. To simplify a computer science phrase, pattern matching means checking a sequence for the presence of a pattern. In marketing and business, it means being able to connect data points and information that may seem unrelated at first to help you make decisions. Pattern matching helps me understand how things are functioning, where risk is, where opportunity is and how to use it to develop a path forward. Being able to pattern match quickly, especially in the presence of constraints, is important. 

A third skill is deciphering data. Fetch is a living, breathing organism. Every day it’s speaking to us through data. It’s our job to know how to listen to it and interpret that data. 

Finally, optimism is a trait that I believe all great leaders have, regardless of discipline.



Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via listed companies and Shutterstock.

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