This is an answer I wrote for a Quora question and thought I'd share it here as well.
B2B marketing is largely tool driven. No matter what flavor of B2B marketing you’re in (lead generation, events, communications, etc.) you need to be familiar with what tools are required for the job and how they fit together. Some technical skills (HTML/CSS) will also make you a standout candidate.
If I wanted to start a career in B2B marketing today, this is what I would do:
Buy a domain name and create a simple website from scratch using Wordpress. Don’t use a hosted service like Wix or Squarespace because they make it too easy. You want to learn how a website actually works — understand the relationship between a server, database, and CMS.
Use your new website to learn basic HTML/CSS. No matter what role you have in the marketing organization, being able to quickly edit email templates and/or landing pages will make you an invaluable asset.
Start writing a personal blog that details your journey to becoming a B2B marketer. Practice your writing. Marketers are story tellers above all. Practice. Practice!
Install Google Analytics and familiarize yourself with website analytics concepts. B2B marketing relies heavily on data and feedback loops. Understand what is important to measure for success and how to measure it. Start here: Web Analytics Career Guide: From Zero To Hero In Five Steps!
Install a marketing automation tool on your website and familiarize yourself with the marketing funnel. If HubSpot still offers a free trial, go with them. Their blog and content is an endless source of B2B marketing knowledge. Drip.co is a good and cheap alternative. Learn how to create email drip campaigns.
Sign up for a CRM trial and integrate it with your marketing automation tool. Salesforce is what most companies use and they should still offer a free trial. The key here is learning how the buyer funnel works. After you get familiar with these tools, the real magic can happen.
You should now have a personal website, a few blog posts, the ability to create and track email campaigns, and a CRM to manage contacts. The next step is to find a list of 50 companies hiring for B2B marketing roles — use LinkedIn’s job search or Indeed.
Gather emails of hiring managers listed in the job postings and the head of the department you’re applying to. You can usually guess emails based on a standard format: bob@company, bob.jones@company, b.jones@company, etc. These are your leads.
Upload the list to your marketing automation tool, make sure to include their first name, last name, and company name so you can personalize emails.
Create a 3 email drip campaign and send it your leads:
Email 1: Your resume, 1 paragraph on why you’re the perfect fit for the job, and link to your website
Email 2: A short summary and link to the blog posts detailing everything you’ve learned by taking the above steps
Email 3: Ask for a favor — 15 minute chat about how your contact got into B2B marketing and any tips they can share
As you get responses, add the leads to your CRM. Track your progress: if you get a response, add them as a lead. If you get a screening call, convert the lead to a contact/account. If you get an interview, create an opportunity.
Unfortunately, they don’t teach B2B marketing in school. Fortunately, all the knowledge and tools are easily accessible. With a little effort you can quickly gain a basic understanding of B2B marketing principles and set yourself apart from other job seekers.
The goal is to use the job search itself as a means to learn about the B2B marketing and sales process and get familiar with the tools required for the job.
Best of luck!