It seems that everyone is feeling the impact of tough economic times.
This includes the professionals known as marketing managers.
"Because of the recession, many companies were forced to restructure. Marketing,
like other departments, needed to become leaner, too," says Sandra Singer.
She's a senior director with a marketing association. "...It is not uncommon
for marketing to be seen as an expense, as its return on investment is not
As a result, there have recently been layoffs in the marketing and advertising
industries, and many companies have cut back on their marketing budgets. But
there are still opportunities for future marketing managers, especially those
with technological know-how.
Marketing managers oversee the plans and strategies that get products and
services to consumers. They predict the demand for products and services and
identify possible markets for them.
Marketing managers are involved in a wide variety of activities, including
product design, product pricing and trend monitoring.
Many marketing managers start out in advertising. Their first job might
be with an advertising agency, helping to design the ads we see, hear and
read every day. But opportunities with ad agencies have not been as plentiful
in the past year or two.
"We observed that agencies, in particular, that normally would bring in
interns over the summer months, were less likely to do so," says Singer. "Some
students eager to break into advertising were willing to work for next to
nothing to gain the requisite experience."
However, even in tough economic times, there are always opportunities for
hardworking, talented people. And technological savvy is always in demand.
"There is a demand for a higher level of talent," says Singer. "The youth
represent digital knowledge, so they're bringing new ideas and skills to companies
that can use that....
"They're looking for students to bring digital talent and ideas.... They
can speak to that generation of multi-tasking, and [they know] where they're
getting their information, because they're living and breathing it, so they
have a lot to offer."
If technology is your thing, then you'll find opportunities with digital
ad agencies -- agencies that specialize in making use of technology, especially
the Internet, to reach potential markets.
"They're always looking for top talent," says Singer. "It's not just the
MBAs -- it's people who understand the digital space."
Getting Started in the Career
The job of marketing manager is generally not an entry-level position.
After getting out of a college or university marketing program, graduates
usually start in advertising or sales positions, and then work their way up
to marketing management.
"Most students will not walk into a managerial position," agrees Michelle
Kunz. She's executive director of the Marketing Management Association and
a marketing professor. "They may get into a training program; they may go
To be an effective marketing manager, you have to be a people person.
"I think that they have to like to work with people, they have to understand
people, they have to understand consumers," says Kunz. "There's a lot of research
that goes into it.
"A lot of marketing today has to do with building relationships -- you
have to be able to assess what that person perceives. But to be really successful
you have to be able to crunch numbers. There's a bottom line."
A lot of people think marketing and advertising are the same thing. But
advertising is just the promotional aspect of marketing. Marketing is much
more than that.
"Marketing looks at everything a potential customer or target market might
need and what product or service we can deliver to them," says Kunz.
Also, marketing encompasses such things as product design, supply chain
management, price setting, after-purchase follow up and more. "It's not just,
'Advertise it and they will come,'" says Kunz.
To get started in a career in marketing management, a bachelor's degree
"There are a lot of people with nothing more than a bachelor's degree doing
very well," says Kunz. "A bachelor's degree will give you some level of maturity
to function in the industry, and to be a manager someday, that's a must."
After you've been working in advertising or marketing for a while, your
company might suggest that you earn a master's degree in marketing or an MBA.
Some companies will pay for you to return to school, and will let you continue
working while you earn your degree.
The advantage of working for a while in the industry is that you discover
the gaps in your learning. You get a sense of what you could still learn to
help you move forward in your career.
"After they get out in the world, they might discover that what they studied
has changed a lot," says Kunz. "Then you might determine you need more education.
A lot of marketing managers have a master's degree, or maybe an MBA.
"A lot of organizations will support continued education; some do not,"
she adds. "It depends on the corporate culture."
If you already have experience in sales or advertising, then a certificate
in marketing management may be enough to get a foothold in this career.
"All of our students are adult learners," says Jo-Anne Clarke. She's the
program director for management certificate programs at a university. "[Often],
in their company they've been put into a marketing role and told, 'You're
in charge of marketing now.'
"Sometimes they're in sales and they're moving into marketing, so they
need to learn the nuts and bolts."
Most students in the certificate program take two or three years to finish,
taking evening and weekend classes. Although most of the students are adult
learners, they range from those who've just graduated high school to those
in their 50s. About half of the students already have a degree.
Clarke agrees with Kunz that marketing is a lot more than just advertising.
"Marketing management covers a wide range of things, not just one piece like
advertising," says Clarke. Marketing covers all the planning on how you're
going to target your market.
Effective marketing managers are able to think strategically.
"They're able to take broad concepts and put them into actions," says Clarke.
"They're creating sales strategies and event planning, understanding how all
the pieces fit together.... It's really putting together the whole plan."
Young people entering the marketing field have the advantage of having
grown up with the Internet and online social networking. They intuitively
understand online marketing in a way that older marketers might not.
"The Internet has changed marketing completely," says Clarke. "The whole
idea of social marketing... [and] through the Internet, people can access
your products all over the world."
"I think any marketing manager today who doesn't embrace technology isn't
a successful manager," says Kunz. "The key is leveraging it effectively and
properly. Younger people don't see as many barriers, they multi-task it much
better into their environment than older people do."
"There's opportunity for all kinds of people," says Singer. "It's all
about what you're willing to do, what salary you're willing to take."
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