Marketing can be a confusing and overwhelming discipline, but just like any other field of study, you need to start somewhere.
The first step in marketing is deciding where the field fits into your overall career goals.
If you are looking to be an entrepreneur or find creative fulfilment through marketing, then this is the career for you. You’ll also need to become familiar with relevant business terminology and prepare yourself for a five-year (on average) work experience before getting started in marketing.
What is marketing?
Marketing is the idea of creating and communicating specific messages with the goal of generating sales. Marketing can apply to a relatively straightforward product or service, like a new car, or it can be used for more complex initiatives, such as the launch of an entirely new product.
Marketing is an ongoing process that involves researching customers and competitors, creating values-based messages that communicate your product or service’s benefits, and communicating those messages to your target audience(s). In marketing lingo, these are referred to as positioning, messaging, and targeting.
The basics of marketing are simple: you want people to buy from you. This is true of anyone that has ever tried to sell anything. In fact, the term “brand” goes back to 950AD and the ancient Norse word “Brandr” meaning to burn. The word evolved to the brand burn onto cattle to denote ownership. Today a brand is used to identify the manufacturer and is a sign of quality. Hence the term brand value.
Since the advent of the internet, marketing has really come of age. Never before has it been so easy for businesses to measure the results of a campaign or for a company to target a specific niche audience. This has allowed small businesses to take on the large multi-national brands and out-compete them by being more reactive to their niches demands.
Age of social media
Social media has revolutionised the way that companies market themselves. Social media provides companies with an outlet to communicate directly with their customers and prospects. It also allows for interaction and two-way communication between consumers and businesses. In doing so, social media has broken down barriers between customers and businesses; this allows consumers to have a say in what products they spend their money on, rather than looking at it as a one-way sell.
This new age of marketing means that there are a lot more options available to you when trying to decide how you want your product or services sold.
It isn’t enough these days to just have a product that sells, you have to have figured out why people buy from you and not your competition. Today’s social media platforms and search engines allow marketers to generate very specific campaign reports. These marketing analytic reports make it is possible to track how far and wide your ideas and campaigns reach. By using data analytics you can identify and predict trends within your niche. You can then refine and target users who will be receptive to your brand values. It’s this level of complexity that now drives the requirement for those wanting a marketing career to gain formal qualifications.
How do I become a marketer?
There isn’t one set way on how to become a marketer. Marketing is a highly-specialised field and so it is important to decide on what particular area of the marketing discipline you would like to study. To do this, you have to have an understanding of what the job entails and why it is important.
Once you have decided on your chosen marketing discipline, it will be time for you to gain experience. If you are starting a business then you may already have experience with marketing; however, if you don’t, then finding relevant short-term projects will help to develop your existing skillset. A good example of this could be through volunteering or interning at larger companies (who may also be willing to contribute towards your training).
There are so many marketing jobs available that it is difficult to generalise just how many different types of employers there are. However, the ideal way to find out what you like and where you will be suited to work is by finding a suitable job or internship; this will give you an idea of what the market for your marketing skills is and will also allow you to make decisions as to which type of organisation suits your needs.
Once you have decided on a path that you wish to follow then finding a university or college may prove the most practical way of achieving this. Using coursework such as blogs, videos or online reading may help to inform your decision about which course is best for you. For example, in today’s results-driven market place you could choose an MSc digital marketing & analytics programme, this will provide you with the tools to succeed in a data-driven workplace.
The marketing profession is a competitive one; as more and more people enter the market they are finding it challenging to find employment. Because of this, it is important to have an understanding of where you fit into the industry matrix.
There are many different types of marketing out there, from marketing management to digital media, from PR planning to social media content. This means that by choosing your niche you will be able to boost your job prospects significantly. To begin with, it is always good practice to follow the advice given by recruiters and focus on one primary area until you have gained a working knowledge (this could be anywhere from three months up to two years). Then you can focus on expanding. The wide range of marketing roles now available offers you a lot of choice and job variety. Once you gain a solid grounding in several areas you can then specialise in one or two areas that fit with your personality and working style.
Most jobs need you to be able to communicate effectively, this being said, the more popular marketing careers will be those who have specialist skills and knowledge.