What is Marketing and What Can You Do with a Marketing Degree?

Marketing is an ever-evolving and dynamic career choice. From traditional definitions and roles to new strategies and technology tools, marketing will take you on an exciting and stimulating professional path. Your marketing degree will enable you to explore many exciting career avenues.
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Two women at a whiteboard giving a marketing presentation.

Marketing is an ever-evolving and dynamic career choice. From traditional definitions and roles to new strategies and technology tools, marketing can be an exciting and stimulating professional path. Your marketing degree will enable you to explore many exciting career avenues.

Business + Creative; Art + Science – That’s Marketing

The broad definition of “what is marketing” is changing at a lightning pace these days. At its core, marketing is a multi-pronged endeavor across platforms, to present a product or service to the public, to express a company’s voice, mission and brand, and to explain how it meets the researched needs and desires of potential consumers.

Jessica Rogers and the text Jessica Rogers.Marketing can encompass everything from the customer experience on a website or with TV, print or digital advertisements, to retailing, branding, market research and much more. “The role of marketing ...transcends all borders of an organization, to include everything from front line employees representing the brand, to digital marketing campaigns," said Jessica Rogers, associate dean of marketing at Southern New Hampshire University. "I tell students that marketing is a great career as there is the opportunity for both the strategic mind and creative mind to be successful.”

For some, a career in marketing is the perfect pairing of left and right-brain modalities. Marketing is “a combination of business and creative. Art and science, anything you want it to be,” said Steve Geibel, adjunct instructor graduate level at SNHU,

Why Should You Get a Marketing Degree?

It’s an exciting time to be a marketer. In the modern digital age, the Mad Men of the past are yielding to the tech-savvy marketers of today. A marketing degree will enhance your knowledge of current trends and practices. A master's degree allows you take that knowledge and experience to the next level, especially important if you're eyeing a leadership role in marketing.

“If you got a bachelor’s degree in marketing, there are a variety of directions you can go with it. A master's is more intense, if you’re really interested in detailed marketing and management,” Geibel said. "Most of my MS in Marketing students are looking towards the management track – VPs, chief marketing officers."

Consider these benefits to pursuing a marketing program:

  • Career options – “A lot of degrees pigeonhole you, but marketing can lead you anywhere,” Geibel said. “There’s the whole component of online marketing, such as databases, search engine optimization (SEO), analytics and data. Some specific careers in the modern age of marketing include social media manager, email marketing – a lot of companies have someone just dedicated to that.”

    A marketing career allows you to have passions or interests in other areas as well, Rogers said. “Consider the student who loves music. Perhaps they work in marketing for the music industry. Or perhaps healthcare – we see marketing minds in the healthcare and fitness industries. Education as well. The idea of being able to work in a wide variety of industries is appealing to many. The sky's the limit, every industry needs marketing in one way or another!”

    MS in Marketing recipient Stephanie Casimiro '19G was already applying things she was learning during her time in the program immediately to the current clients of her boutique marketing agency. Her degree then also helped her land a high-profile corporate position. “I only had the confidence to pitch to that (company) because I was in the master's program,” Casimiro said. “I landed the job because I knew about marketing analytics and data (return on investment.) They actually waited for me because they knew I was pursuing my education. They value marketing and had gone as far as they could without it.” 
  • Job security – Because of its use of digital and online communication with sought-after audiences, marketing has a good built-in buffer against changing economic and industry variables. “A good thing about marketing is that it has the potential to not be affected by the current state of affairs,” Geibel said. “So much of marketing tasks can be done remotely and digitally – even (learning and) teaching remotely.”
  • There’s something for nearly everyone – “Marketing is an interesting career because it lives at the intersection of creativity, critical thinking and communication,” said Marcio Moerbeck, adjunct faculty at SNHU. If you’re a person who thrives in one of those three areas, you can go in one or more directions. “You could be a creative content writer, or do the marketing data analysis, or if you love talking to people, be a sales person. The most important aspect of marketing is how to communicate internally and externally for the company.”

    Geibel said “another facet of marketing I like is that there’s such an element of psychology to it – understanding and changing behavior, and what motivates (your potential customer). How to set up triggers to change it.”
  • Marketing is never static – A career in marketing means you’re always learning and changing your techniques and approaches to the job challenges, as new information comes to light. Marketing is for the curious, Moerbeck said. “You need to have a thirst for learning. Success in marketing is around always learning and being inquisitive. If you want to join a career where your knowledge today stays static into the future, that’s not marketing. We are constantly learning.” 

Hot on the ‘Market’: Some Top Marketing Careers

There are many stimulating directions that marketing can take your career. Here are a few that labor statistics are indicating are good potential growth areas.

Digital Marketing

The top of the list of popular marketing jobs has to be the category of digital marketing.Stephanie Casimiro and the text Stephanie Casimiro.

“When you say the words ‘digital marketing,’ nine out of 10 people assume you mean social media. But that’s just one piece,” Geibel said. “Some think because they spend so much time on Facebook, that social media marketing would be a fun job to have. But if you don’t know how to analyze the effectiveness of those campaigns, the work is in vain.”

Moerbeck said it’s important to incorporate all avenues when marketing. “Email, website, display ads, social media… there are many platforms in digital marketing," he said. "Brand building and engagement, thought leadership. A lot of selling to prospects, but not real sales. As students get to understand digital marketing, they see it’s more than only social media.”

There are many facets that can be pursued in the digital and online marketing arena, including:

  • SEO writers add keywords and specific content to website posts that create higher visibility to search engines, ideally attracting a more targeted demographic and more traffic to a company’s site.
  • Content writers create and tend thought-leadership blogs, and posts on social media platforms, creating shareable viral videos or visuals like infographics, and other content marketing.
  • Social media marketers maximize message visibility via social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and others, to foster sharing of a company’s mission and message.
  • Email marketers create targeted and ongoing email campaigns, and grow your company’s audience with their own buy-in, to build relationships and drive sales.
  • Influencer marketing partners your marketing message with high-profile, highly-followed celebrities and other individuals to promote your company or brand.

Market Research Analyst

Experts in the field strongly encourage those interested in the marketing program to pursue education in data analysis. Those who possess high levels of proficiency and interest in analytical work and research could be well-suited to this field of marketing.

Market research analysts curate start-to-finish data gathering and interpretation, using software and statistical tools to determine market trends and campaign successes. “If I was getting a degree, I’d make sure to (take courses in) SEO and analytics, and gain a rudimentary understanding of how data works. You’ll need to know the nuts and bolts, especially if you want to be a VP or (chief marketing officer,)” Geibel said.

Marcio Moerbeck and the text Marcio Moerbeck.The critical data-analysis component is highly sought in the business world, Moerbeck said. Analysts trained to use software and marketing automation tools are essential to success, and often hard to find. “It’s a lot of work to do marketing automation. ‘Marketo experts’ don’t exist; Eloqua black belts? Can’t find them," he said.

But these are tools that are critical and cost a lot for businesses, so one of the quickest ways to get a job in marketing is to be the specialist in automating and deploying those campaigns. "Marketing operations, how to use data analysis software, how to do data analysis. Everyone wants to focus on the creating side and on social media, but there’s a huge need for these automation experts and data analysts,” Moerbeck said.

The median annual wage for market research analysts was $63,120 in May 2018, according to BLS.

“Market research analysts and marketing specialists are occupations that are forecasted for a nearly 27% growth through 2026,” Rogers said. “This boost in employment is due to the increased use of data and market research to understand customers and to measure the effectiveness of business strategies.”

Marketing Manager

Similar to an analyst, a marketing manager estimates consumer demand and identifies potential markets for a product or service, as well as analyzing trends that could be beneficial to a company. Working across departments with sales, public relations and product development, marketing managers can also be involved in product development and business strategy.

According to the BLS, the median annual wage for marketing managers was $134,290 in May 2018.

Is a Marketing Program Right for You?

Your marketing degree could be a deciding factor in obtaining a plum position, even with experience, Casimiro said. “It’s absolutely worth it; there’s never a downside to having a degree," she said. "It’s so difficult to stay up to date and on top of new changes” without that education. "Through your participation in the program, you will also meet a network of experts you can reach out to for the latest info and help."

“The marketing landscape has a lot to offer, and involves both a strategic approach as well as a creative one,” Rogers said. “So no matter what type of person you are, you can find a home in marketing.” 

Kathleen Palmer is an award-winning journalist and writer. 

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