How to Transition From Designing to Marketing?


Well, I agree that if your goal is to be CEO, being a Product Marketing Exec is probably a good move, but only because product marketing is a business-focused discipline. ie. They focus on what should be built. These people frequently end up as General Managers, along with Sales people.

If I were you, I’d ask your top Marketer what it takes. They’ll probably suggest getting an MBA. I got PDMA certification, which I think is also well regarded and teaches the latest best practices in product development.

But I take issue with some of your assumptions.

One, I don’t know what Marketing Execs have “ultimate control over major design decisions” …certainly no place I’ve ever worked or want to work. Product Marketers should be “accountable” but not “responsible” for the design of their products. They provide high level business oriented briefs to the design team. The design team is “responsible” for making the decisions that best meet the goals of the brief. And in evolved design groups, are influencing the brief itself.

Two, those who are “generally” placed above designers work in companies where design isn’t valued. There are plenty of Design VP’s and even a few Chief Design Officers out there.

Three, Marketers don’t make more money than Designers–they are almost identical. Take a look at: and Design Salary Guide | Coroflot

Hi, CG.

Can you elaborate about your career path? So basically you started off as a regular designer,
but then got your PDMA certification from a 3d party company, and applied for a management position,
and now you are a design manager?

Asking a marketer from my company, unfortunately is not an option, because we don’t have a marketing position per say,
it’s done by the leadership instead. Also I have the general feeling that any dissatisfaction with the current position
will be frowned upon.

So you are saying that when applying for a job as a Marketing Executives, MBA is a must?
So if I want to have a shot, it would mean going back to school and spending another $60k for a Business degree?

How likely is that any company will be willing to substitute business degree for a BFA + design experience?
Because, let’s face it, you never use anything you learned from school, you just read the manual and learn everything on the job :slight_smile:

CEO’s tend to be very financially oriented, because that’s where they spend much of their time. It’s really a totally different skillset. I don’t know about you, but my BFA didn’t even include math! It’s similar for Product Marketers, except there’s another whole dimension related to portfolio and business analysis. Again, very different skills that are more focused on financials than on people and things, so no, I don’t think a BFA is going to cut it.

The exception would be for you to start up your own company or design firm–then you’re the CEO. The world’s wealthiest CEO/Designer is James Dyson. Mark Parker, CEO of Nike is another extreme exception–he started out as a designer at Nike in 1979 with a Pol Sci degree.

My career path was climbing the typical ladder: Junior to Senior to Manager to Director. The next logical step upwards would be a Design VP position, but I actually decided the opposite so I could keep my hands dirty.