The movie you want to see this weekend? That’s the result of a marketing push. The celebrity “scandal” on TMZ? Marketing and spin. (Any mention is a good mention, right?) The products you buy, the company names you recognize…those are all the results of the hard work of marketers. Marketing is more important now than ever, with so many different forces competing for our attention, in-person and digitally. Marketers can be found in virtually every industry, working to make sure their brands are getting exposure.
What Do Marketers Do?
Marketers are “people” people, but they’re also data people. They take information about customers (demographics, spending power, needs and wants) and apply that to products and services to make them appealing to the potential customer base. Marketing professionals analyze the market’s demand for their company’s product or service, and turn that analysis into plans and strategies to promote directly to people. They process information about the industry, and come up with plans to make a brand more visible or appealing to those most likely to buy or use it.
What Skills Do Marketers Have?
Marketing professionals need to have a solid base of communication and problem solving skills, which are the two main components of most marketing jobs. But those aren’t the only ones—marketers are very professionally well-rounded. Here are some of the most important skills you’d need in a marketing career.
Marketers do lots of communicating every day, so it’s important to be able to speak clearly and personably with a variety of people. They need to be able to communicate strategies, plans, and results to people at all levels in their company. They need to be able to communicate with potential customers to sell a brand. They also need to be able to be storytellers, making it clear how strategy will turn into results.
Marketing professionals need to be able to see the big picture, and make plans to achieve those bigger goals. That means often thinking outside of what’s been done before, and reaching out in new and innovative ways to build a brand.
What is marketing, if not finding ongoing solutions to the “problem” of selling a brand or product? Marketers need to be flexible to adapt to changes in the market, or react quickly to feedback from users.
Deadlines are a fact of life for marketers. Plans often have concrete schedules that need to be met. For example, if a new product is launching in May, the marketers have to be working months ahead of schedule to plan, make connections, and set up events, outreach, advertising, etc. well ahead of that date. Marketers also need to be able to respond quickly. If there’s a trend to be capitalized on right now, waiting a month could be far too late.
A Love for People
Being a people person really helps in this career path, because it’s all about making connections and getting people on board. Being outgoing isn’t a prerequisite for the job, but it definitely helps.
Marketing is often about presenting: plans, strategies, products, ideas, results, successes, areas for improvement, and—last but not least—yourself. Marketers are often speaking in public, whether it’s in meetings or interacting with the public in general. If you’re not great at public speaking, don’t despair—this is a skill you can work on all the time, whether it’s taking classes in public speaking, or making more of an effort to move out of your comfort zone while in groups.
Attention to Detail
Marketers need to know the ins and outs of what they’re selling, and to whom they’re selling it. Gaps in knowledge, or cutting corners can mean serious missed opportunities, or worse, bad word of mouth for their brand.
A Command of Social Media
Social media especially has become a massive part of marketing over the past ten years, and that won’t be slowing anytime soon. It’s crucial to know what the big social media trends are, as well as being tech-savvy in general, so that you’re using every possible tool to build your brand.
Marketers rely heavily on information, whether it’s scientific research, informal polls, or any kind of data, really. A good marketer needs to be able to take raw data (about users, product feedback, market trends, etc.) and transform it into action that will benefit their product.
What Are the Marketing Career Paths?
One of the best things about a career in marketing is how versatile it is—and how versatile it makes you. Let’s look at some of the potential career paths you’ll find in marketing.
Brand management means you’re responsible for the public image and response to a particular product. This is one of the most common marketing careers, and probably the one you think of first when you think “marketing.” A brand manager is responsible for monitoring how a product performs in the marketplace, analyzing data around the market and customers, and strategizing how to both maintain the brand and improve it.
Example jobs: Marketing Manager, Brand Manager, Product Development Manager
The Pay: This field has a median income of $124,850, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Education: Brand management marketing professionals typically have a Bachelor’s degree in marketing, business, or a related field.
The Outlook: This field is definitely growing, as the market gets ever more crowded with products and services. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that this field will grow by at least 9% by 2024.
If you’ve always had a passion for stats and figures rather than salesmanship, this could be a great marketing career path for you. Market researchers take in all the data and information they can, and come up with a coherent picture of what the market truly looks like for their industry. They then come up with strategies about how to capitalize on that information, make a better product, and reach out to those customers.
Example jobs: Market Research Analyst, Market Analyst
The Pay: This field has a median income of $62,150, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Education: Market researchers typically have a Bachelor’s degree in marketing, business, math, statistics, or a related field. Market research analysts at all levels should have strong math and analytical skills. Advanced market analysis positions may require a Master’s degree.
The Outlook: We live in a data-driven society, and people who can wrangle that data effectively will be in very high demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that this field will grow by 19% by 2024, much faster than average job growth.
One of the most traditional marketing areas (think Mad Men), advertising is heavy on strategy, messaging, and planning. In advertising, you come up with plans for selling a product or service, then oversee that plan from its embryonic concept stages to execution. Advertising marketing jobs typically mean working with a squad of creative/artistic, business development, and sales teams to make sure the plan will work best for the product.
Example jobs: Advertising Managers, Advertising Sales Director, Account Executives, Account Planners, Media Director, Media Coordinator, Media Buyers
The Pay: Along with marketing managers, advertising managers have a median income of $124,850, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Education: Advertising professionals typically have a Bachelor’s degree in marketing, business, or a related field. Backgrounds in sales or graphic design can be helpful in this field as well.
The Outlook: Demand will be growing for people who can plan and execute advertising campaigns. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that this field will grow by at least 9% by 2024.
For better or worse, public relations professionals are the public face of a product, brand, company, etc. It can’t hurt to have nerves of steel and the ability to stay calm under pressure, because PR professionals are often the first line of defense when there’s any news—good or bad—buzzing around in public. Public relations people specialize in spinning public perceptions of a brand, and troubleshooting when things aren’t so great. (We’ve all seen PR peeps in action for politicians, celebrities, and companies that are in the news for one reason or another.) Public relations professionals are always there with a cohesive statement that supports their brand. Strong communication skills are absolutely essential for public relations jobs, because you speak for the brand.
Example jobs: Account Coordinator, Media Coordinator, Public Relations Coordinator, Public Relations Consultant, Public Relations Assistant/Associate, Public Relations Specialist
The Pay: Public relations professionals make a median salary of $56,770 per year, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Education: Advertising professionals typically have a Bachelor’s degree in marketing, business, communications, English, journalism, or a related field.
The Outlook: As long as there are brands and public entities, there will be public relations people needed to support them. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that this field will grow by at least 6% by 2024.
Marketing is a great field because it has tons of opportunities right now, and is an area where you can really grow. It’s also flexible, meaning you can apply those skills in almost any industry. Whether you prefer being the one who analyzes data or the one who’s out there throwing (figurative) elbows to get attention for your brand, there’s a place in the marketing world for you.